The EcoScope project will have both a direct impact, during and shortly after the project period, as well as an indirect impact on science and society in general, even beyond the end of the project. The direct impact of EcoScope will be enabled through the:
(1) New scientific knowledge generated using the latest available tools and methods for fisheries management in the full ecosystem context, ecological modelling and maritime spatial planning, especially in data-poor areas.
(2) Development of ecosystem models and assessments as well as testing of fisheries management scenarios and plans within the context of climate change and other anthropogenically induced environmental impacts.
(3) Development of an interoperable platform, the EcoScope Platform, which will host and merge all oceanographic, biogeochemical, environmental and climate drivers, ecosystem models as well as fisheries and ecosystem assessment tools and indicators into the interoperable EcoScopium public portal.
(4) Creation of a robust EcoScope Toolbox: a scoring tool for management and policy, which will incorporate environmental, ecological, fisheries and economic metrics along with uncertainty for decision makers and end-users.
(5) Development and integration of a fisheries component into the Maritime Spatial Planning simulation platform that will enable users and managers to observe the direct and future effects of multiple drivers on marine ecosystems.
(6) Development of tools for conducting simulations under deep uncertainty to support Robust Decision Making.
(7) Direct involvement of related stakeholders in co-designing the toolbox and evaluating its performance.
(8) Involvement of the general public in reporting bad practices through social media/smartphones (EcoScope App).
(9) Continuous training and capacity building using the latest educational technological advances (EcoScope Academy).
(10) Innovative services that will be planned by industrial partners through business planning and, with the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, will make use of the enormous capabilities of the platform, the toolbox, the simulator, the application and the academy and will be targeted at a wide range of stakeholders and general users. The EcoScope Toolbox and EcoScope Platform as well as the related research and innovation will create benefits for research and academic partners, business opportunities for industrial partners, potential for Blue Growth, income increase for the fishers through rebuilding fish stock biomass and a series of instruments co-designed by and for policy makers. These products and associated services will be available online in the EcoScopium public portal immediately after their development thereby directly benefiting scientists outside the consortium, fisheries managers and policy makers. The direct online availability of the products and the detailed methodology for their replication in other case studies/areas of the world will maximise current and future knowledge transfer beyond the framework of the project. It will provide access to tools and indicators developed in EcoScope to the scientific community, stakeholders and endusers beyond the EU but also globally through scientific collaborations and publications. The indirect impact of EcoScope will be amplified with a business model that will be developed in order to ensure the operation of the EcoScope Toolbox, the EcoScope Platform, the EcoScope Academy and the EcoScope App along with other products and services developed in business planning after the funded phase of the project. The applicability of these products and services in other areas of the world and other case studies within the EU will be strengthened by the numerous scientific publications in journals and conference proceedings that will be produced by members of the consortium. The consortium members and especially the communication team will make sure that the scientific output, including the reports and other deliverables, is useful, clear and accessible to stakeholders and properly communicated to the non-expert scientific audience and to the public through popular articles free of scientific jargon, and including infographics.
The main social impact from the rebuilding of stocks and sustainable fisheries through the ecosystem-based fisheries management will be an increase in income and jobs in the fishing industry and the blue economy in European Seas. Unsustainable fishing and stock biomass declines are presently uneconomic and eat into their profitability, as European fisheries are largely relying on subsidies. Increasing innovation will foster competition and open the market for SMEs to provide services and products based on datasets that will now be accessible and interoperable and will create high value-jobs. Reduced uncertainty in knowledge of marine ecosystems, and the possible effects of future conditions, will reduce the risk for policy makers. The extensive assessment of vulnerable megafauna and of noncommercial fish and invertebrate stocks will provide NGOs with valuable information on the conservation status of vulnerable/protected species and non-commercial stocks. Another social benefit of EcoScope, through its strong and continuous stakeholder involvement in co-designing management tools within the Knowledge Exchange Forum, will be the increased potential for local coastal communities to make a real contribution on issues that affect their neighbourhood or their livelihood. They will engage with public authorities and scientific expert knowledge in an informed discussion on options for use/preservation of marine ecosystems, trade-offs between economy and ecology, and engage in issues such as stock assessment, habitat degradation, climate change, environmental and anthropogenic impact on marine ecosystems, fisheries and local/national/European economies.
The “ecocentric management for sustainable fisheries and healthy marine ecosystems” will serve the requirements and targets of the Common Fisheries Policy and Marine Strategy Framework Directive, will protect species, Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and Biodiversity and will provide the means to “regulate uses of the marine environment” according to the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive. The EcoScope scientific output, products and services will be used to promote the sustainable exploitation of marine resources, halt habitat degradation, improve knowledge on fisheries and marine ecosystems, protect vulnerable species and biodiversity, detect and fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) catch and foster better fisheries management and governance. The aim will be to improve the status of marine populations, preserve food web structure and habitats and increase the stock biomass in the sea, thereby increasing the income of fishers without jeopardizing ecosystem health and services. All management scenarios that will be examined and the projections of all the tools/methods that will be examined, will be tested against IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) climate change scenarios and will include alternative options and uncertainty to promote adaptive management to climate change. This approach will be valuable for policy makers not only for the management of the resources, habitats and ecosystems but also for the well-being and adaptation of the fisheries and the health and safety of the fishers themselves. EcoScope will engage a multi-actor approach to inform the main target groups of the project that are policy makers (DG MARE, DG ENVIRONMENT, DG RTD, Regional Fisheries Management Organisations) and scientific advisory bodies (FAO, GFCM, ICES), as well as research and academic institutions, NGOs and commercial/recreational fishers. The expected impact of EcoScope is given in detail below through the project’s activities and output and the value for stakeholders/end-users.