Get ready for presentation

Subtask Description:
Prepare your mind/prepare for engagement.

Action points of the implementation:

The Limfjord, Denmark

Policy Issue:
Sustainable mussel production in the Limfjord

Human Activities:
Mussel fishery, mussel aqua culture, agriculture, urban and industrial activity, recreational finfish fishery, tourism.

General Information:
In the early 1990’s a regime shift took place in the area, and there was an activity transition from demersal fishery to mussel fishery. Eutrophication, caused by nitrogen and phosphate loadings, is still causing periodical hypoxia, sometimes resulting in major death of mussels, and Harmful Algal Blooms, resulting in periodical commercial ban of the product. In 2006 the mussel landings fell to exceptionally low level and there is high risk of a total collapse of the mussel production. Mussel culture in lines is introduced to the area to replace the fishing activity, but this new venture is not economically viable. The main stakeholder concerns are connected to the impacts of hypoxia, mussel fishery and the lack of finfish and a understanding of their ecosystem functioning.

Example of Implementation:
The scientific team of Limfjord aimed to involve stakeholders closely during the entire SAF implementation in order to develop an intelligent ESE model that simulates the ‘real world’ as best as possible. Stakeholders’ engagement proved instrumental in increasing validity and credibility of the model and, thus, the scenario simulation results. Further, this approach, with frequent stakeholder interaction, proved important for the success of the SAF, as the stakeholders felt their opinions and knowledge of the system had been heard and implemented in the ESE model. Several stakeholders expressed a wish to be able to access and perhaps further develop the model addressing new, related policy issues. All the stakeholder meetings were announced 1 to 6 months in advance and most of them were kept open to potentially interested stakeholders. This resulted in the pining of several new stakeholders to the group during the project while a few left (see below). Prior to meetings, a Meeting Agenda was sent out to all stakeholders that were identified initially, and to all who had joined later.

In the Limfjord SAF implementation agriculture stakeholders (private enterprises, local/regional organisations and national ministry) were hard to engage. A municipal representative participated in the third stakeholder meeting (between Design and Formulation Step), but did not find the project to be of relevance to agriculture farming issues. We interpret this particular stakeholder behaviour to be an exploration of the potential threat from the SAF implementation results to affect regulations, that is, imposing of further restrictions and/or expenses on use of fertilizers or disposal of manure from pig farming on agriculture farmers. In Denmark, agriculture farming has a strong lobby, which is often successful in changing suggested national legislation in their favour, most recently the targets set for implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). In table 1, the main concerns and opinions of the stakeholders prior to the SAF implementation are presented as mapped during the first meeting ( Dinesen et al.,2010).

Table 1 : The main concerns and opinions of the stakeholders prior to the SAF.

The participating Limfjord stakeholders and their main concerns prior to SAF implementation.

1 Some stakeholders were only present at the initial meetings and have not seen and discussed simulation results.


Main concerns and opinions prior to SAF implementation

Agriculture farmers 1

Concern related to potential restriction on use of fertilizers.

Commercial fishers

Concern about eutrophication and loss of profitable finfish fisheries.

Environmental managers

National implementation of EU Directives.

Fisheries managers

Management and development of mussel and finfish fishery according to regulations negatively affected yield by decreasing catchable stocks.

Mussel farmers

Development of profitable mussel farms, wish to reduce hypoxia and HAB events, avoid mussel predators and filter-feeding competitors.

Mussel fishermen

Maintaining mussel fishery profitability, wish to reduce hypoxia events, avoid mussel predators/competitors and secure natural mussel recruitment.

Nature conservation NGOs

Decreased Total N and P loadings to reduce hypoxia events, secure shallow-water mussels as food for foraging birds, maintain high biodiversity and secure recreational use of the Limfjord.

Recreational fishermen

Restoration of a recreational fishery in the Limfjord.

Municipals (Tourism, Harbours)

Management of the Limfjord environment and use of goods and services.

Most stakeholder meetings were hosted by the science team, as 3-hrs, late afternoon/early evening meetings at a local, well-known venue. This was to allow people to attend after regular working hours. According to local customs, coffee/tea/soft drinks were served with a snack and sandwiches. During the Appraisal Step, one stakeholder meeting was held as a 2-day symposium, one day with stakeholder participants and one day with peer participants with extensive knowledge of the Limfjord. During the Output Step, besides the regular evening stakeholder meeting, a 1-day stakeholder meeting was held with the environmental managers at one of their local offices. The latter was done on their request for political reasons to allow detailed scientific discussion and the ESE model and the simulation results.

Prior to the initial stakeholder meeting in Limfjord , a moderator from IFM was chosen based on his former experience with stakeholder engagement in relations to fisheries and environmental issues. This facilitator is a Professor in Socio-economic Sciences. The facilitator was chairing the stakeholder meetings during Design Step and Formulation Step, and in particular the plenary sessions. He was instrumental in creating a friendly, neutral atmosphere which allowed for open-minded discussions. Due to limited financial recourses within the project, the facilitator was not able to participate at all stakeholder meetings. All project related presentations were given by members of the science team.

After having established this open-minded atmosphere, and the meeting structure having been happily received by stakeholders, the science team were able to take over the chairing of the meetings during Appraisal Step and Output Step. This worked well, as the stakeholders had become familiar with the science team and felt that their opinions and knowledge were important for the development of the ESE model.

This example provides a demonstration of a well organised stakeholder engagement carried out through the whole SAF implementation. The simple mapping of the main categories of stakeholders and their basic opinions and concerns provides a simple though very useful overview, as it can reveal important information as conflicts and future objections in management scenarios. The use of a facilitator that has a good knowledge of the audience, from the beginning of the process, enables the shaping of a good relationship between the scientists and the stakeholders and protects the scientists from possible “communication” mistakes.

Contact: Grete E. Dinesen , .