Scoring framework used in an EBM performance evaluation by Pitcher et al. (2008) [see publications].
Details of the three evaluation fields were taken from Ward et al. (2002). For each attribute, scores and rages were allocated based on material in Code of Conduct compliance country reports (Pitcher et al. 2006). Scores of 7/10 and above were considered “good”; scores of 4/10 and below represented poor or “fail” grades.

Ward T, Tarte D, Hegerl E, Short K. (2002) Policy Proposals and Operational Guidance for Ecosystem-Based Management of Marine Capture Fisheries. World Wide Fund for Nature, Sydney, Australia, 80pp
Pitcher TJ, Kalikoski D, Pramod G. (eds) (2006) Evaluations of Compliance with the UN Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 2006; 14(2): 1191pp.


Evaluation Field 1: Five Principles of the EBM Framework


0 - 10

Score Range


The central focus is maintaining the natural structure and function of ecosystems, including the biodiversity and productivity of natural systems and identified important species.




Human use and values of ecosystems are central to establishing objectives for use and management of natural resources.




Ecosystems are dynamic; their attributes and boundaries are constantly changing and consequently, the interactions with human uses also are dynamic.




Natural resources are best managed within a management system that is based on a shared vision and a set of objectives developed amongst stakeholders.




Successful management is adaptive and based on scientific knowledge, continual learning and embedded monitoring processes.





Evaluation Field 2:  Six indicators of Successful EBM


Key element

Expression in the fishery (objectives)

Mechanisms and enabling processes

Performance indicators


0 - 10

Score Range

The fishery operates in an effective policy framework.

The management system has effective linkages to conservation and socio-economic policies and strategies for the ecosystems where the fishery operates.

The management system appropriately reflects national and international goals and objectives for conservation and sustainable use.

Subsidies and incentives lead to improved EBM outcomes in the fishery.

Review of regional and national policies and strategies to ensure consistency with EBM principles.

Inter-agency procedures are efficient, effective and accountable.

New subsidies and incentives reviewed by stakeholders to confirm ecological viability.

The absence of policy inconsistencies that will prevent a fishery from achieving EBM.

Inter-agency cooperation is effective and efficient.

The absence of perverse subsidies and incentives in the fishery system.



Social, economic and cultural context of the fishery is incorporated.

Stakeholders are identified from all areas of relevance to the fishery, and effectively participate in the management system.

The management system and the implementation of objectives and targets are agreed across all stakeholders for both stock management and ecosystem integrity.

Institutional changes result in increased integration and cooperation amongst stakeholders.

Management decisions are based on the long-term social, economic and cultural benefits of the society.

Procedures are in place for effective participation of stakeholders in all aspects of the management system (such as Management Advisory Committees, Consultative Councils).

Management procedures are publicly accessible, and implemented according to a publicly available plan of management.

Regular review and revision procedures are in place to identify improvements to the management system. This should include professional assessment that is independent of the fishery and management agency.

The fishery management plan is easily available and is periodically (at agreed regular intervals) open to public review and assessment.

Fisheries status reports that include stock and ecosystem performance reports are periodically (at agreed regular intervals) distributed for public review and evaluation.



Ecological values are incorporated.

Ecosystem values are identified, including ecosystem connections, conservation status, state of ecosystem integrity and critical habitat for utilised and non-utilised species.

Agreed objectives, targets, strategies and performance indicators for enhancing or maintaining ecosystem integrity are developed and implemented.

Achievement of ecosystem objectives is assessed within the fishery management system in partnership with conservation and research sectors.

Ecosystems have been mapped where the fishery operates, and the conservation status of important species and habitats determined.

Habitats, species and ecosystem function vulnerability to fishery impacts have been assessed, and the targets and harvest strategy adjusted to be precautionary.

Assessment of the fishery performance for ecological objectives is undertaken in conjunction with stakeholders, and procedures and outcomes are made public.

The ecological integrity of specified sensitive habitats is not declining.

Species considered at high or medium risk from fishing (or their surrogates) are identified and their status used as performance indicators.

Populations of non-utilised (specified) species vulnerable to fishing impacts are not declining.

The bycatch of (specified) protected or otherwise icon species is declining by an agreed proportion each year, or reduced to an agreed level considered acceptable.



Knowledge of utilised species is adequate.

Agreed objectives, targets, strategies and performance indicators for stock status are developed and implemented.

Achievement of fishery objectives is assessed within the fishery management system through comprehensive consultative structures

Ecosystem dynamics are fully incorporated into stock assessment models and decisions are cautious.

Effective no-take zones are implemented as 'insurance' against unpredicted failure of the management system in respect of the target stock, associated non-target catch and bycatch, and wider ecosystem values.

Stock assessments are timely, open to stakeholder participation, and fully transparent and accountable.

Harvest strategies are cautious, and well-buffered against unpredicted failure of assumptions.

No take zones’ and marine protected areas are designed to benefit both fisheries management and broad ecosystem goals.

Catch levels are set within ecologically defined limits that are understood and agreed.


Target and limit reference points are set at a precautionary level.

Limit reference points for stock size and structure are not violated.

The age structure and natural distributional range of the population are minimally altered

Stock assessments are open, inclusive and participatory.

No-take zones are agreed and adequately implemented as part of the fishery management system.





The resource management system is comprehensive and inclusive, based on

reliable data and

knowledge, and

uses an adaptive


The fishery management system is structured using ecological classification (such as ecoregions, bioregions, habitat classes).

Baseline data or benchmarks are available for each performance indicator.

Management data is collected for stock management and

ecosystem integrity parameters

Arrangements are in place to facilitate use of data from partner agencies, research collaborators or other sources. Stock and environmental assessments are conducted in collaboration with fishery  operators, partner conservation agencies and other stakeholders e.g. Environmental Non-Government Organisations (ENGOs).

The management system responds to new information and data in a timely and effective way.

Procedures are in place to recognize and adopt new knowledge or data of importance to ecosystem integrity or stock management.

Ecological risks are assessed in a comprehensive manner, and a precautionary decision making framework is used to manage risks.

Gaps in knowledge related to high or medium risks are given priority for research funding and implementation.

An ongoing research program is in place to improve basic knowledge of the life history characteristics of target species,

associated and dependent

species and the wider

ecosystem where the fishery operates.

The management system includes monitoring to evaluate the status of ecological indicators.

Stakeholders participate in management decisions.

Ecological risks are continuously reviewed to provide for alteration to the harvest strategy as appropriate.

The amount and type of fishing effort in each habitat class.

Amount and type of bycatch and discards is declining by an agreed proportion each year, or reduced to an agreed level.

Bycatch of protected species is declining by an agreed proportion each year, or reduced to an agreed level.

Research projects reflect the key ecological issues in the fishery.

Comprehensive fishery data monitoring system on targeted species and bycatch is in place.

The amount and type of fishing effort on each level of the population of the target species.






externalities are


Cross-boundary issues are identified, and addressed within the management system.

The long-term dynamics of ecosystems are incorporated into the development of objectives and targets.

The management system considers the full range of human uses and aspirations for the ecosystems being managed.

Statutory or other procedures are in place to ensure that fisheries managers are involved in management decisions that may affect the stock or the ecosystems where the fishery operates.

Ecological risks and harvest strategies contain measures to assess and incorporate risks from long term changes in ecosystems or the effects of their uses.

Fishery managers and operators understand and are accountable for their decisions and actions and the impacts of these ‘in the water’.

Critical habitat for the fishery and identified key ecosystem components are protected from water pollution, coastal development or other externalities.

Environment protection strategies take into account the use by fisheries of coastal areas.

Allocation of resources for harvest (of exploitable stocks) is made equitably across all legitimate claimants (e.g. requirements of the ecosystem; traditional, subsistence, recreational and commercial fishers) and recognises ecological constraints.




Evaluation Field 3: Twelve steps in Implementing EBM


Component Step


Intended Outcomes


0 - 10

Score Range

Identify stakeholder community.

Fishery management agencies, conservation agencies, conservation NGOs, local community groups, scientific/academic research community, fisher associations or cooperatives, higher and lower levels of government, fish processing / distribution groups, indigenous representatives.

A formal network of interested parties with whom the fishery representatives will participate to prepare and review the management of the fishery. A transparent and fully accountable process enabling the participation of all interested parties in the process of managing the fishery.



Prepare a map of ecoregions and habitats.

Conducted by the fishers, research community, fishery managers, stakeholders and partners. Covers the full area of fishery operations. The focus is on areas where the fish are, where they are fished, and any specific spawning, nursery or similar obligate habitats or locations. High resolution is needed in benthic primary producer habitats (such as algal beds, seagrasses, mangroves, coral reefs).

Maps of the ecosystems throughout the fishery at scales of resolution consistent with the scale of the fishery. Resolved habitats at a scale consistent with the potential impacts of the fishery. Coherent with other ecosystem classification initiatives (at both larger and smaller scales). Major features and exceptions documented (e.g. highly migratory species, oceanographic currents or features, boundary mismatches between taxa).

Major uncertainties identified and documented as guidance for research and investigation programs.



3. Identify partners and their interests / responsibilities.

Conservation, environment protection, and coastal planning agencies from all levels of government. Major users and managers of other, possibly co-located, resources (e.g. tourism, mining, oil/gas, transport, and communications). Directly affected local communities.

Clarify specific roles and responsibilities for management in the marine environment. Engage with other supportive interests. Promote the opportunity for coordination and integration, improved efficiency across government and better outcomes for marine management, better agency outcomes for lower cost, more accountability in government, more effective long term solutions to marine ecological problems, and shared approaches to problems held in common.



Establish ecosystem values.

Fishers, research community, fishery managers, stakeholders, partners and the public; designed to identify all major uses and all major natural and ecosystem values throughout the area where the fishery operates.

A detailed distributional analysis of the main attributes of the ecosystem where the fishery operates. A clear and agreed expression of the natural and use values, which could include:  highly valued habitats;  representative areas dedicated as reserves;  protected species feeding, breeding, or resting grounds;  fishing, spawning grounds, recruitment areas and migration paths for commercial species;  highly productive areas such as upwellings;  areas popular for recreational fishing or diving;  areas used for ports and harbours;  areas of high scenic and wilderness amenity;  high cultural and historic value;  traditional hunting grounds for Indigenous peoples;  areas of high tourism value;  areas used for dumping of dredge wastes, military training etc.



Determine major factors influencing ecosystem values.

Establishing cause-effect relationships; consider factors both internal and external to the fishery management system.  Conducted by the fishers, research community, fishery managers, stakeholders and partners.

Identified hazards to marine ecosystems and their values from the full range of actual and potential human impacts that occur in the fishery region. These could include:  extent of loss/damage of marine habitats;  effects of specific fishing gear on benthic habitats;  effects of pollution from coastal rivers on inshore  habitats;  risk of marine pest invasion and disruption to critical habitat or fishing operations;  effects of the removal of the biomass of harvested species (in all fisheries) on trophically dependent species.



Conduct Ecological Risk Assessment.

ERA conducted with participation of all stakeholders and partners, fishers, research community and the fishery manager: uses broad multi-disciplinary knowledge base; identifies key areas of uncertainty; open for public scrutiny and review; fully peer reviewed by independent authorities.

Agreed estimates of high, medium and low risks of the fishery to the ecosystem values identified in step 5, such as the risk of the fishery to protected species, and to the ecosystem, habitats, species and genetic diversity.



Establish objectives and targets.

Fishers, research community, fishery managers, stakeholders and partners. Performance objectives and targets established for:  high and medium priority risks from the ERA; important aspects of the ecosystems (including protected species, critical habitat); stocks.

Agreed and shared goals for specific elements of ecosystems. Specific performance objectives and targets for important elements of the ecosystem. Objectives and targets that are comprehensive and precautionary in terms of valued aspects of the ecosystems.

Could include:  maintaining or recovering population sizes of protected species;  maintaining the distribution, area, species diversity and trophic structure of important habitats;  reducing fishing effort in specific areas to help protect populations of benthic fauna;  increasing the distribution and diversity of benthic fauna considered to be affected by fishing;  rehabilitating marine ecosystems to a past (healthier) condition.



Establish strategies for achieving targets.

Fishers, research community, fishery managers, stakeholders and partners. Focus is on identifying appropriate and workable strategies to achieve objectives and targets, and on specific capacity matched to responsibilities for implementing strategies. Strategies designed based on best understanding of the cause-effect relationships developed in Step 5, and matched to highest priority needs for corrective actions identified in Step 6 (ERA). Use of incremental strategies where necessary and unavoidable.

Series of prioritised strategies that define workable activities and responses to achieve specific objectives and targets identified in Step 7. Includes who is responsible, what funds and time frames are involved, what controls are needed and where data/outcomes are reported and assessed. •Strategies could include:  declaring a network of sanctuary protected zones;  establishing buffer zones where only specific uses, or types of fishing, are permitted  research on improving gear design to reduce impacts on a sensitive habitat, or reduce the bycatch of an important species;  improved fishery independent monitoring of catch, or bycatch;  reducing pollution from coastal rivers;  constructing fish escapement panels in trawl nets to avoid catch of a certain type and size of fish, or to reduce overall fish bycatch;  implementing an industry code of practice to reduce risks of bait discards to bird populations.



Design information system, including monitoring.

Fishers, research community, fishery managers, stakeholders and partners. Focus is on capture of appropriate data/information to determine if strategies are working as expected; objectives and targets are being achieved; cause-effect models are correct; fishery impacts are being reduced.  Collaboration and contributions from partners identified.

Efficient and effective fishery information system that provides data and information on stock and ecosystem performance (additional to information needed for stock management); identifies specific effects of fishery strategies on ecosystem values. Could include:  Periodic mapping of important habitat distributions;  population census of important protected species;  species diversity in fished habitats;  distribution of fishing effort by gear types and fine spatial scale;  size/age classes in harvested species;  species diversity in closed areas.



Establish research and information needs and priorities.

Fishers, research community, fishery managers, stakeholders and partners.

Focus is on identifying specific high priority areas of uncertainty, and on quality science outcomes, for both stock and ecosystem issues. Collaboration and contributions from partners identified.

Research strategies are fully peer reviewed or independently audited.

Comprehensive research programs targeted at resolving key ecosystem and stock issues in the fishery. Could include:  habitat mapping; impact of fishing on specific habitat types;  effects of coastal development on recruitment of harvested species;   design of monitoring programs to resolve important changes in habitats;  biological data of key species (both utilised and nonutilised);  determining the dietary preferences of harvested species and their major predators;  species composition of bycatch with different gear types used in the fishery.



Design performance assessment and review processes.

Fishers, research community, fishery managers, stakeholders and partners.

Focus is on a process that is participatory and inclusive.  The locations, timing and resourcing enables partner and stakeholder participation in reviews of performance of the fishery in relation to stock and ecosystem values.

Performance outcomes peer reviewed by independent authorities.

Periodic (but regular) forum for discussion, review and assessment of fishery performance by partners, stakeholders and the public.

Periodic (but regular) forum for review, assessment and revision of monitoring data, objectives and targets by stakeholders and partners.



Prepare education and training package for fishers.

Fishers, fishery managers, extension experts and stakeholders and partners.

Outreach program to provide training and support for fishers about new fishery management, ecosystem or other EBM initiatives, and provide local technical support for assessment and resolution of ecosystem issues.