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Precautionary approach

A management philosophy that requires considering risk reduction in decision‑making so that, in the absence of full information, the decision results in the lowest risk. The precautionary approach to fisheries management requires:

  • prudent foresight;
  • taking into account unknown uncertainty by being more conservative;
  • establishment of legal or social frameworks for all fisheries, including rules to control access, data reporting requirements, and management planning processes;
  • implementation of interim measures that safeguard resources until management plans are finalized;
  • avoidance of undesirable or unacceptable outcomes such as overexploitation of resources, overdevelopment of harvesting capacity, loss of biodiversity, major physical disturbances of sensitive biotopes, and social or economic dislocations;
  • explicit specification of management objectives including operational targets and constraints;
  • prospective evaluation; and
  • sound procedures for implementation, monitoring and enforcement.