The FMSY Project

Ecosystem Based FMSY Values in Fisheries Management

European Fishmeal was partner in the FMSY Project. The FMSY Project investigated a more ecosystem-based approach to estimation of the biological reference point Fmsy and the project was finalized on 1 May 2019.

European Fishmeal has received funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fundthe Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark and Nordic Council of Ministers

The project results have been published by the the Nordic Council of Ministers. The two main publications are:

Global fisheries catches can be increased after rebuilding of fish populations” available for download click here and a scientific article in ICES Journal of Marine Science “Estimating Fmsy from an ensemble of data sources to account for density dependence in Northeast Atlantic fish stocksclick here


Three working group reports are also available:

Report of the 1st working group meeting on optimization of fishing pressure in the Northeast Atlantic, Copenhagen June 2017 – click here

Report of the 2nd working group meeting on optimization of fishing pressure in the Northeast Atlantic, Vancouver November 2017 – click here

Report of the 3rd working group meeting on optimization of fishing pressure in the Northeast Atlantic, Rhode Island March 2018 – click here

The project is led by Dr. Henrik Sparholt, Nordic Marine Think Tank (NMTT). To see the project participants click here

What is FMSY?

FMSY is a biological reference point for fisheries management. It is the fishing pressure that gives the maximum sustainable yield in the long term. In the past overfishing has been a common feature in most sea areas. Overfishing means that fishing pressure is higher than FMSY.

The objective of the FMSY project is to come up with FMSY values, which are based on ecosystem functioning, for each of ICES data rich fish stocks. These FMSY values can be applied directly by ICES in its routine fisheries advice. The aim is to bridge the gap between the science available and management.

Project results

Towards ECO-system Fmsy
The FMSY project propose a new set of Fmsy values for data rich stocks in the North Atlantic. They are without bias known to science and using the available science on ecosystem functioning …by way of:

  • ”Bridging the gap” between science and scientific advice/management
  •  Bring multispecies and ecosystem science into Fmsy calculations

Basic ecosystem concepts:

  1. The production in an ecosystem is based on primary production.
  2. This production is moving up the food web.
  3. If fishing is too light:
    • the fish stocks will be too large and burn too much production in metabolic maintenance (convert production to CO2)
    • production which could otherwise have been harvested as fish meat.
  1. If the fishing is too hard: the fish stocks will be too small and not produce enough juveniles.

The FMSY project continued in the MSE project – read about it here

FMST Project

The report “Global fisheries can be increased due to rebuilding of fish populations” summarizes the results of the project. The project results present an approach which is simple and scientifically sound and builds on existing stock assessment framework as well as removes known bias in current methodology. This approach includes density dependent growth, reproduction and cannibalism, and it is based on single-species stock assessments. The project found increasing scientific evidence that multispecies MSY in a marine ecosystem requires fishing higher trophic levels at higher rates than FMSY as the foregone catch from higher trophic levels is compensated greatly by increases in catches from lower trophic levels. The report concludes that managing the Northeast Atlantic fisheries using the new FMSY values will increase the sustainable catches by several million t per year compared with a management based on the current FMSY values.


Overlay with catch in Northeast Atlantic

More results from the FMSY-PROJECT click the link: