Exploring the applicability of biological and socioeconomic tools in developing EAFM plans for data absent areas: Spinner dolphin EAFM for Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka
The ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) methodology is currently considered the preferred option for long-term sustainability of fisheries and ecosystem services and is widely popularised. Manuals, guidelines and training have been given to many nations, but the actual existence and execution of an EAFM plan is rare. The applicability and relevance of biological and socioeconomic tools to follow EAFM planning guidelines in a data absent area were explored in Kalpitiya, northwest Sri Lanka, where there is a population of spinner dolphins that the local community are especially dependent on through tuna-dolphin association fishing and dolphin-watching tourism. This paper provides background to the design and collection of information leading to the formulation of an EAFM management plan. Scoping and the determination of a fishery management area were completed through stakeholder consultations using a combination of interviewer-administered questionnaires, interviews, meetings, dolphin distribution data and existing management plans. Threats and stakeholder prioritisation were compiled and the final agreed fisheries management area covers a total area of 2445 km2 adjacent to the Kalpitiya peninsula. The completed EAFM plan contains 4 goals, 16 actions and 72 sub-actions agreed by stakeholders. It was concluded that both willingness of higher level stakeholders responsible for implementing regulations and working with grass-root level stakeholders are critical in developing a realistic and implementable EAFM plan. This work also highlights how data absence should not remain the bottleneck that hinders moving forward with EAFM approaches.