The Precautionary Approach and 'burden of Proof' Challenges in Fishery Management
Efforts to apply the precautionary approach in fisheries often focus on essentially quantitative matters, such as calculating a precautionary reduction in the allowable harvest or using simulation models to determine relatively low-risk management strategies. However, much of the uncertainty in fisheries is more qualitative in nature, including the many forms of structural uncertainty that arise from a basic lack of understanding of fishery systems and related aspects of state-of-nature uncertainty in which human elements dominate. It is in dealing with these uncertainties that a focus on the burden of proof becomes particularly crucial. In designing fishery management, where is the onus of 'proof' placed, and how much 'proof' is required? This theme is explored through an examination of recent practical experience within Atlantic Canada's groundfish fisheries, notably on the part of the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. This experience highlights the role of the human dimension in shaping the burden of proof. The paper closes with the comment that successful implementation of a precautionary approach requires a combination of case-by-case attention to the burden of proof and broad-based initiatives shifting the fishery system toward more robust management.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2002-03-01
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