While European policies have progressed towards an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM), limited attention has been paid to the implications for its advisory system. This paper analyses the advisory landscape in the European Union (EU) by addressing two questions: to what extent can the needed advice be provided? how prepared is the management system to integrate ecosystem advice? We provide a systematic analysis of the relevant advisory bodies, explore gaps related to the requested and delivered advice, and identify paths for improvement. The findings confirm earlier observations of lack of a formalized process to provide and integrate advice in support of an ecosystem approach into EU fisheries management. Instead of enabling existing capacities to embed ecosystem components (e.g. investments and initiatives made by stakeholders (and authorities) to move to EAFM -pushing strategies), the system relies heavily on mandatory requests from policy makers (pulling mechanisms). Furthermore, social and economic dimensions are the weakest aspects in the advisory process, which hampers the balancing of objectives that represent one of the hallmarks of EAFM. The policy framework has adopted EAFM for European fisheries, but the advisory processes have not yet been adapted to substantially support EAFM.
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