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Publication of ICES CRR317 on Marine and coastal ecosystem-based risk management

With the issue of ICES Cooperative Research Report (CRR) 317 this week, document co-editor Roland Cormier provides an overview of the ISO 31010 standard for risk management and assessment techniques and its basis for an ecosystem approach to management.
Published: 22 March 2013

​​​Elements of risk management are found in a variety of risk assessment and management frameworks or guidelines. In some cases, planning processes rely upon risk assessment frameworks to ascertain risk without a clear sense of the ecosystem management context. The results of such risk assessments are, based on perceived management needs, sometimes misaligned with or irrelevant to the context of ecosystem management.

Risk assessment frameworks also typically focus on the characterization of the likelihood and magnitude of ecological impacts. They seldom ascertain socio-economic consequences in relation to both the communities of interest that depend on the ecosystem management outcomes being achieved and the regulatory or policy repercussions reliant on the governance structures needed to achieve such outcomes. Few frameworks provide the evaluation step needed to determine what level of management should be considered in light of a gap analysis of existing legislation and policy.

The International Standard Organization ISO 31000:2009 standard does provide a comprehensive structure as well as the tools and definitions usable within the context of an ecosystem approach to management. It establishes the ecosystem basis for management and can integrate the precautionary approach for management scenarios in light of uncertainty as well as adhere to adaptive management principles as stipulated by the need for monitoring and review.

In this handbook, the ISO 31010 standard for risk management and risk assessment techniques is used as the basis for the development and implementation of an ecosystem approach to management. The document aims at providing basic project planning blocks for any ecosystem-based management initiative, such as integrated coastal and oceans management or marine spatial planning. It does not extensively debate the pros and cons of various risk assessment and management frameworks.

The CRR report is written in the style of a normative text as would typically be found in an international standard, and the text uses relevant ISO standards and definitions as well as providing key references, further reading titles, and quality assurance checklists to assist practitioners involved in such initiatives.

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Publication of ICES CRR317 on Marine and coastal ecosystem-based risk management

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