Stakeholder participation is a key feature in risk-based frameworks used to assess and promote sustainable exploitation in fishery systems, but participants usually have limited opportunity to influence the scope and rules of interaction. Thus, this project extended the approach of stakeholder engagement so that the scope and rules of interaction were decided by the participants themselves. The aim was to improve understanding of the main problems in the fisheries system and of negotiating solutions meaningful to all participants.
Social diversity was explicitly addressed regarding positions in and knowledge of fisheries systems (e.g., scientific, professional and managerial). All stakeholders were involved at all four stages, and participants decided whether to move on to the next stage. Though gender was not explicitly addressed, stakeholder composition was gender balanced.
Stakeholders addressed issues such as bioeconomy; food security; sustainable agriculture and forestry; and marine, maritime and inland water research. Responsible publics and actors were explicitly addressed and engaged.
The project facilitated relevant discussion of fishery-related issues and placed critical decision making in the hands of the group, which ensured the involvement of critical stakeholders in finding collectively accepted solutions to fishery problems. The implementation of several of the identified solutions falls within the remit of the involved stakeholders, although some require action at a wider geographic and governance scale. Future projects could benefit from including NGOs and those with less knowledge of fisheries systems, who could contribute to wider societal involvement and communication.