Ambition and State of the Art

Ecoscope

Advancements beyond the state of the art

The prime ambition of EcoScope is to address the challenge of sustainably managing fisheries in the full ecosystem context within a changing climate, to balance between food security and healthy seas that are impacted by human activities, and to identify ecosystem constraints that will eliminate potential trade-offs between ecology and economy. Safeguarding ecosystem stability and ensuring well-managed sustainable fisheries and healthy seas will lead not only to improve human welfare but also to economic stability that will support EU policies and directives and promote Blue Growth. The management of fisheries in regions with varying cultural, economic, political as well as social ethics and different levels of law enforcement requires creating a common basis through the harmonisation of datasets, indicators and models while at the same time recognising the particularities of ecosystems and the idiosyncrasies of people. At the same time, because of these particularities, it requires tailor made management and policies adjusted to the current status of marine ecosystems, needs of local policy makers and the variable data availability. Therefore, another ambition of EcoScope is to bridge the gaps among disciplines, geographical areas, datasets and people through the development of the EcoScope Platform. EcoScope project will combine theoretical knowledge with modelling and empirical analysis to inform policy makers on fisheries management within the ecosystem context, including biological diversity, non-indigenous species, fisheries and environmental forcing, including climate change. Finally, EcoScope’s ambition is to use the existing datasets, tools and methods for ecosystem assessment (classical stock assessments, trawl and acoustic survey data) with the novel methods for data-poor fisheries and to expand the toolbox of options within the technology continuum to include artificial intelligence and machine learning in ecosystem management, through the development of the EcoScope Toolbox.

EcoScope’s ambition is for the EcoScope Toolbox to become a universal scoring system that can be applied in other areas of Europe and the world. In particular, we aim to widely disseminate the toolbox, data poor methods for stock and ecosystem assessments, and sources of data that might not be directly available to developing nation scientists and policy makers. EcoScope aims to ensure in-depth advancements beyond the state of the art across all WPs. Interdisciplinary linking and thinking, gathering of all available knowledge and information and harmonisation of data into a single userfriendly platform (WP3) across European Sea are beyond the state of the art (partly expanding on H2020 ODYSSEA project for the Mediterranean Sea). Assessing the risk of non-indigenous species population expansion to local species, habitats and fisheries is particularly important within the framework of climate change and constitutes a novelty because of its predictive ability through scenario testing (WP4).

The development of novel tools for assessing the state of non-commercial, ecosystem-service species is an advancement as this component has been overlooked in traditional fisheries management approaches, and the application of existing tools to ecosystem level is particularly ambitious, especially in data poor fisheries where local ecological knowledge is valuable and its incorporation in models is rare (WP5). Merging the tools and information of all WPs into a single decision-making toolbox that will facilitate management and policy making at local, national and European level is also beyond the state of the art (WP5). The modelling approaches including the assessment of uncertainty and inclusion of deep uncertainty in complex ecosystem models to achieve robust decision making across many models, using meta-modelling and systems modelling, are all beyond the state of the art when fisheries management scenarios are examined, and various theories are tested (WP6). The combination of ecosystem models with the inclusion of a fisheries component to the maritime spatial planning simulation platform will be fundamental for making advanced scientific knowledge understandable to the decision makers using practical examples, maps, digital games and dashboards (WP6). The EcoScope project will involve big data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, computer sciences, meta-modelling, simulation sciences, robust decision making, uncertainty and deep uncertainty and advanced game-technology (novelty in terms of software engineering and multi-disciplinarity). The socioeconomic analyses establishes a link between ecology and economy and allows an assessment of societal (gender, diversity, human health) needs and values as well as the identification of boundaries and indicators to guide policies and decision support (WP7). Although identifying stakeholders that are not directly related and involving them in the process of running a project is challenging, it will promote interdisciplinarity and potentially give birth to new ideas and concepts, thereby increasing their involvement in co-designing management tools (WP8). Capacity building will be maximised through online courses and webinars for training (EcoScope Academy) as well as via the communication of results to the general public in a short documentary film. Innovation management, updating the results and maintaining the operation of the platform and toolbox after the end of the project is ambitious but for the consortium it is a prerequisite that ensures the viability of EcoScope products and services and allows its future use in other projects and research activities as well as by the industry and decision makers (WP9). Transfer of knowledge and dissemination of the project results across multi audiences with varying cultural, economic, political and social backgrounds is a challenge and our ambition is that it will be aided by the technological advancements of smartphones and the development of an application (EcoScope App), as well as by the expansion of social media across society (WP10).

Innovation potential, new knowledge and novelties The new knowledge that will be produced, a series of novelties that will increase the scientific, societal and economic impact of EcoScope and the innovative actions for the ecocentric fisheries management are listed below:

New and integrated knowledge

  • Development of the EcoScope Platform that will homogenise all oceanographic, biological and fisheries datasets.
  • Implementation of Marine Ecosystem Assessment across case studies.
  • Assessment of the impact of fishing on habitats using novel diversity (N90) and sensitivity (BESITO) indices.
  • Assessment of the impact of fishing on species/ecosystems using novel tools (e.g., AMSY) and indicators (e.g., SAR).
  • Application of a novel Red List assessment method (JARA) to assess conservation status of vulnerable species

Novelties that will increase scientific impact

  • Development of ecological niche models (ENM) and machine learning techniques for predicting species distributions in a changing climate, including distributions of non-commercial and non-indigenous species.
  • Application of hierarchical ecosystem approach in the evaluation of ecosystem effects on fish stocks.
  • Vulnerability and risk assessment of ecosystem components and fisheries to climate change.
  • Development of systems models to simulate the effect of uncertainty in complex systems and interlinked models.
  • Development of model simulations to visualise the effects of scenarios and policies under deep uncertainty, and identify the root causes of desirable as well as undesirable evolutions.
  • Integration of deep uncertainty into fisheries management and marine ecosystem modelling.
  • Application of Robust Decision Making approach in the assessment of fisheries management in an ecosystem context under uncertain future conditions

Novelties that will increase societal and economic impact

  • Development of the EcoScope Stakeholder Knowledge Exchange Forum: an interactive mechanism with related stakeholders and end-users throughout the project that will co-design tools and services.
  • Development of an EcoScope Academy: a series of online courses, webinars and digital games to support the proper use of decision making tools and to promote ecosystem-based fisheries management.
  • Development of games, online simulators, integrated dashboards, narratives, a documentary film and art & science exhibitions for disseminating the results to the stakeholders and the general public.
  • Use of advanced game technology (Unity game engine) and game design thinking to create optimal usability of platform and toolbox, as well as for highly interactive sessions with stakeholders and interactive learning.
  • Development of an EcoScope App, that will be used for collecting local information/knowledge from fishers and citizens in general and to inform the related stakeholders.
  • Provision of scientific single species management advice weighted with climate and environmental forcing.

Innovation potential

  • Development of a universal EcoScope Toolbox to allow the examination of the effect of fishing, fisheries management policies and climate/environmental impact on all ecosystem components under deep uncertainty based on “what if?” scenarios.
  • Development of a fisheries component in MSP Challenge simulation platform to be applied in all current editions (North Sea, Baltic Sea and Adriatic Sea are among EcoScope’s case studies) and a new edition for the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the data poorest area within EcoScope that combines two case studies (Aegean and Levantine).
  • Implementation of novel digital technology to collect valuable data onboard fishing vessels through a cloud-based data hub and visualisation tools based on business analytics service (e.g., Power-BI).