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Implementing MSY: What Can the EU Learn from its Neighbours?


MYFISH SmallThree case studies investigating various aspects of sound governance with regards to sustainable fisheries management from which the EU can potentially learn have recently been published by the Myfish project.

The Myfish project aims to provide an operational framework for the implementation of the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) concept in European waters. As part of the project, a review of existing and proposed MSY variants, constraints and management measures outside EU borders was carried out by Myfish project partners from AquaMarine Advisers (Sweden) and Innovative Fisheries Management (Aalborg University, Denmark). 

The case studies focused on three fisheries:

The case study summaries are also available to download from the Myfish website:

Maria Hadjimichael from Innovative Fisheries Management said: “We deemed it important to understand the governance of these fisheries and the trade-offs that were made in their management, particularly regarding the different constraints relevant to the Myfish project (ecosystem, economic and social). We identified decision-making structures which allow for wider stakeholder participation and policies that oblige that scientific advice is followed. We also identified measures which threaten the social fabric over individual economic performance. Such issues need to be fed back to the EU and should be kept in mind in fisheries management decisions.”

Chris Hopkins from AquaMarine Advisers said: “We wanted to discover best practices and lessons learned with respect to MSY variants, objective-setting and implementation processes, including strengths and weaknesses concerning the overall governance system. We believe that these case studies provide us with very worthwhile insights concerning governance which can be fed back to Myfish and its stakeholders.”

The partners first produced a desk-top study on each fishery’s management and overall governance from the available literature, and then interviewed involved stakeholders, including the fishing industry, NGOs, fishery managers and scientists.

MSY is the maximum yield that can be derived from a renewable resource over a prolonged period of time. The goal is to achieve MSY in the EU by 2015. However, there is currently a lack of common agreement on the interpretation of the "sustainability" and "yield" components of the MSY concept and on the effects that achieving MSY for one stock may have on other stocks and the broader ecosystem, economic system and social system. The Myfish project will address these ambiguities by evaluating different MSY objectives, conditional on different kinds of constraints (ecosystem, economic, social) and with different kinds of management measures to achieve the objectives.

More information about the Myfish project can be found, along with the detailed accessible summaries of the case studies, on the Myfish website ( Interested persons may request copies of the full reports from the lead author(s), subject to agreeing that the full report will not be posted publicly thereafter without the permission of the authors.

You can also keep up to date with the progress of Myfish by registering to receive regular updates on the "Influence Myfish!" page on the project website.

If you would like to arrange an interview with the Myfish project team, please contact the Project Coordinator, Anna Rindorf (email:


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