Research is usually recognised as the cornerstone of effective fisheries management and thus an important element for the future of fisheries and aquaculture.
Effective management of fisheries is significantly dependent on the extent to which knowledge and understanding of the abundance, health and resilience of fisheries resources, and of the environment in which they are found, informs management decisions. It is also dependent on an understanding of the fisheries sector, its structure, social dynamics, investments and costs, and of the markets in which the sector trades. All of this requires the collection and analysis of data and, most often, the development of models relating to various aspects of the fisheries sector. Research generating this data and analysis is essential, inter alia, for the development of management plans, preventing overfishing or developing stock rebuilding strategies, and establishing systems of sustainability indicators.
Research needs to be oriented towards promoting the most appropriate use of the scientific advice provided. Fisheries managers are often required to make decisions in the face of a high degree of uncertainty arising from two fundamental causes. Firstly, statistical variability associated with the problem of sampling organisms over the vast areas of ocean, means that information about the status of fisheries resources is characterised by uncertainty. Secondly, the complexity of marine ecosystems means that understanding of the processes determining the future state of the system will always be very incomplete. Recognizing the degrees of uncertainty relating to information provided is essential for the implementation of a precautionary approach.