Indexed on: 03 Feb '11Published on: 03 Feb '11Published in: Ambio
The protection of the Baltic Sea ecosystem is exacerbated by the social, environmental and economic complexities of governing European fisheries. Increased stakeholder participation and knowledge integration are suggested to improve the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), suffering from legitimacy, credibility and compliance problems. As a result, the CFP was revised in 2002 to involve fisheries representatives, NGOs and other stakeholders through so called Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) in the policy process. We address the RAC’s task to incorporate stakeholder knowledge into the EU’s fisheries governance system in empirical and theoretical perspectives. Drawing on a four-stage governance concept we subsequently suggest that a basic problem is a mismatch between participation purpose (knowledge inclusion) and the governance stage at which RACs are formally positioned (evaluation of management proposals). We conclude that, if the aim is to broaden the knowledge base of fisheries management, stakeholders need to be included earlier in the governance process.