Tasks in work package 6: Managing and assessing impacts

Intro to the tasks of work package 6

Work package 6 has three major aims: to assess the potential economic impact of mesopelagic exploitation (Task 6.1); to evaluate candidate management strategies (Task 6.2); and to map the factors determining the social acceptance of mesopelagic exploitation (Task 6.3).

Overview of work package 6
Flows of information and data to, from and within work package 6. Click to see larger version

Task 6.1 Impact on global markets and value chains

Lead: Wageningen University

The objective of Task 6.1 is to assess the potential economic impact of mesopelagic exploitation. It aims to address four major questions:

  1. What is the current and potential cost structure of a mesopelagic fishing fleet?
  2. What are the main characteristics of the potential markets and value chains for products from a mesopelagic fishery?
  3. What are the potential effects of mesopelagic exploitation on world market prices for products such as fishmeal, fish oil and seafood?
  4. Do the benefits of mesopelagic exploitation outweigh its costs, from a business point of view as well as a societal point of view?

Question 1 deals with the supply side of a mesopelagic fishery: the economic factors that determine how a mesopelagic fishery is likely to function, such as fuel use, gear and capital needed, and onboard processing. We use existing fisheries economic data on current and potential mesopelagic fisheries, and insights on effective and sustainable trawling methods gained in Task 3.1

Question 2 regards the demand side: markets and value chains for final and intermediate products from a mesopelagic fishery. The price elasticity and volatility of the most important outputs from mesopelagic exploitation are estimated, including information on substitution possibilities in various uses. 

Question 3 brings supply and demand together and analyses how the most relevant markets for mesopelagic exploitation, notably fishmeal, aquaculture, and nutraceuticals, are affected by a mesopelagic fishery. We will develop an economic model that describes the interaction between a fishery and the most relevant markets, and use that model to estimate the impact of mesopelagic outputs on global markets for such products as seafood, nutraceuticals, fish oil, and fishmeal.

Question 4 addresses the question whether the benefits of a mesopelagic fishery outweigh the costs, from both the perspective of a private business and society as a whole, including wider ecosystem effects, climate impacts, and other societal concerns. We will carry out a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) (Atkinson and Mourato, 2008; see bottom of page), building on the analysis by Prellezo (2018; see bottom of page) for the Bay of Biscay, in order to create a comprehensive overview of the economic and social costs and benefits of a mesopelagic fishery. 

Task 6.2 Development and evaluation of management strategies

Lead: Technical University of Denmark

The objective of Task 6.2 is to analyse the trade-offs in mesopelagic exploitation on a tactical time scale by developing a toolbox to evaluate potential management strategies for mesopelagic fisheries under different sources of uncertainty. Management strategy evaluation is a helpful analysis and appraisal tool for known and quantifiable risks. Besides such risks, however, other risks may exist that are difficult to foresee, let alone quantity. Such ‘unknown unknowns’ can never be excluded, but can nevertheless be explored in a more qualitative setting.

This Task aims to address the following questions:

  1. Which management strategies maximize social and economic performance indicators while limiting biological risks to an acceptable level?
  2. What extreme outcomes are conceivable outside the definition of the models used, and how can those outcomes be managed? The development and analysis of the management strategies will be conducted in an active and iterative dialogue with stakeholders, including how to deal with ‘unknown unknowns’.

Question 1 regards the quantitative definition and evaluation of management strategies for a mesopelagic fishery. Management strategies are wholesale policies that include data collection, the assessment model, the harvest control rule, and possibly other additional measures. We will look at a range of data availability scenarios, ranging from data-poor to data-rich situations. This will help to set priorities for future additional data collection. The management strategies will be evaluated by models such as the individual-vessel-based DISPLACE model (Bastardie et al., 2014; see bottom of page) and the FLBEIA model (Garcia et al., 2017; see bottom of page), and an iterative approach will be taken to communicate the findings in the evaluations to stakeholders, and to elicit additional concerns or measures to be taken into account in the management strategies. 

Question 2 addresses the radical uncertainty associated with fishing the mesopelagic zone. Besides "known unknowns", which are known variables that cannot be quantified with certainty, there may also be "unknown unknowns", i.e. variables or scenarios that have so far escaped researchers' attention. For a selection of extreme but imaginable outcomes of mesopelagic exploitation, we will assess the plausibility of these outcomes, and suggest strategies to better understand and mitigate the risks. 

Task 6.3 Social acceptance

Lead: Wageningen University

The acceptance of new fishing techniques and fishing grounds are ultimately social questions, reflecting not only legal compliance and sound ecological science, but also whether a technique is accepted by a wide range of societal actors. As Wilson (2009; see bottom of page) describes, although the desire for natural scientific answers is great, authority of science is not commonly accepted automatically. Acceptance of scientific findings is determined by values and self-interest as much as by hard facts (e.g. Kahan, 2013; see bottom of page). The inclusion of stakeholder perspectives in science and management, including the social and political dimensions of gear innovation, is therefore imperative.


This task will address two questions:

  1. What beliefs, frames, and values determine the extent to which different stakeholder groups are willing to accept commercial exploitation of the mesopelagic zone?
  2. How can stakeholders’ concerns be dealt with in management strategies?

Question 1 deals with the perceptions and values that determine people’s acceptance of mesopelagic exploitation. Methods such as interviews, Bayesian belief networks, stakeholder workshops, Q-sort and/or focus group discussions will be used to understand what perceptions and values are associated with mesopelagic exploitation.

Question 2 deals with the objectives that are relevant in the Management Strategy Evaluation according to the wide range of stakeholders. We will consult a range of stakeholders which objectives they find relevant for the evaluation of management strategies in mesopelagic fisheries, and what additional measures may have to be included in management strategies to attain those objectives.


Atkinson, G., & Mourato, S. (2008). Environmental Cost-Benefit Analysis. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 33(1):317-344.

Bastardie, F., Nielsen, J. R., & Miethe, T. (2013). DISPLACE: a dynamic, individual-based model for spatial fishing planning and effort displacement - integrating underlying fish population models. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 71(3):366-386. doi:10.1139/cjfas-2013-0126.

Fuglsang, L., and Mattsson, J. (2015). Making sense of innovation: A future perfect approach. Journal of Management & Organization 17(4):448-458.

Garcia,D, Sánchez, S. Prellezo, R, Urtizberea, A, Andrés, M. (2017). FLBEIA : A simulation model to conduct Bio-Economic evaluation of fisheries management strategies, SoftwareX 6:141-147.

Kahan, D.M., 2013. Ideology, Motivated Reasoning, and Cognitive Reflection. Judgment and Decision Making 8:407-424.

Prellezo, R. (2018). Exploring the Economic Viability of a Mesopelagic Fishery in the Bay of Biscay. ICES Journal of Marine Science, Advance online publication.

Wilson, D.C., (2009). The paradoxes of transparency: science and the ecosystem approach to fisheries management in Europe. Amsterdam University Press: Amsterdam.




Participants in work package 6: 

  • Wageningen University
  • Technical University of Denmark
  • Fundacion AZTI – AZTI Fundazioa
  • World Maritime University
  • Marine Institute

Learn more about MEESO project partners


Work package 6 is led by Wageningen University, The Netherlands. 

Contact: Rolf Groeneveld, rolf.groeneveld@wur.nl 

19 JULY 2024