Fuzzy cognitive maps (FCM) to support scenario-based decision analysis on Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) at the Atlantic Area (EU)

Full report with detailed methodology can be found here

      Murillas, A., Castilla, D; García del Hoyo, J.J., García de la Fuente, L., Curtin, R., Muench, A., and Sousa, I.
      “Co-production of ecosystem services provided by Small-Scale Fisheries in the Atlantic Area.
      A fuzzy approach towards an Ecosystem Based Management “. Deliverable Cabfishman 2023.

TOOL DESCRIPTION: Fuzzy cognitive maps (FCM) to simulate policy scenarios

SSF stakeholders (scientist, administrations, NGOs, fishers, fishers 'representatives at Federations, Cofradias, associations, advisory committees, ….) can use scenarios as a tool to simulate trends associated to future decisions, policies (local, regional, european, ….). This tool provides support to SCENARIO-BASED decision making.

This decision making consider a set of different variables (social, economic, environmental) all together to characterize the SSF fishing activity instead of using these variables in isolation

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A multi-step cognitive map is proposed to better illustrate the co-production of Ecosystem Services (provisioning, regulating and cultural ES) and the role of the non-natural capital, the technology or the institutional dimensions. Cognitive maps are qualitative models of a system consisting of variables and the causal relationships between those variables. The methodology is based by three steps:

  1. Building FCM models: following and hybrid approach, that is, combining a Delphi approach – where each expert can generate a FCM -, with official quantitative data.
  2. Scenarios simulation:The simulation is composed of a couple of stages.The first one is the scenario definition based on the most plausible national, regional or supraregional (EU Atlantic Area) related policies and, the second one is the FCM inference. We can divide the FCM in layers as a classical neural network (input, hidden and ouput) being the nodes belonging to the input layer those activated at the initial time. These are the nodes with states different to zero at the first time. The output layer has the nodes composing the future scenario to analyze.
  3. Analysis of the output

Our multidisciplinary team composed by several European partners:


CABFISHMAN aims to create a deep and instilled sense of the importance of sustainability throughout the small-scale fishing sector and the many actors who facilitate fisheries management. In addition, the project seeks to forge emerging partnerships between small-scale fishing operators, scientists, managers and NGOs. Ultimately, CABFISHMAN will create a sustained interest and drive towards environmental and socio-economic sustainability across all marine fisheries actors in the Atlantic area.

  1. Support stakeholder cooperation within small-scale fisheries.
  2. Address transnational Atlantic area challenges that enhance the protection of marine resources.
  3. Advance towards an ecosystem-based management of small-scale fisheries.
  4. Preserve biodiversity through:
    • Quantitative assessment of ecosystem services (ES) attached to small-scale fisheries habitats and species.
    • Knowledge of small-scale fisheries spatial activity.
    • Associated impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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