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10. Workshop procedures - risk assessment



The condition, pressure and socioeconomic assessment part of the workshop is backward-looking in time; it is essentially attempting to describe the state of the marine environment relative to a benchmark and recent trends in environmental condition manifested by changes in condition over the past 5 years.  It is a statement of the current situation of the marine environment.

In contrast, the risk assessment part of the workshop is forward-looking.  Its purpose is to provide statements of the situation that the marine environment is likely to be in if current policies are not changed.  It is designed to provide policy- and decision-makers with feedback on the short-term (5 year) and long-term (50 year) consequences of current policies and to highlight specific risks that are deemed by the workshop experts to warrant the greatest attention.  It is emphasised that the experts are instructed to only consider what is likely to occur if there are no changes to current policies; experts are not allowed to second-guess what decisions governments may or may not take in the future.

As in the case of parameters selected for condition assessment, the risks assessed in the workshop will be a combination of those which are nearly universal to all maritime nations and others which are of particular significance to the nation or region considered in the workshop.  A list of standard risk scenarios is as follows:

  • The risk that illegal and unreported fishing will increase

  • The risk that overfishing will cause fish stocks to collapse

  • The risk that oil exploration will result in a blowout or major spill

  • The risk that shipwrecks will cause a major oil spill

  • The risk that global sea level rise will cause coastal inundation

  • The risk that pollution will cause seafood poisoning

  • The risk that tourism will cause environmental damage

  • The risk that catchment disturbance will cause siltation of estuaries

  • The risk that use of fertilizers will cause widespread eutrophication

  • The risk that harmful algal blooms will occur

The risk assessment is a two-step process.  Experts first assess the likelihood that a risk will occur: a) in the next 5 years; and b) in the next 50 years.  The experts are then asked to judge the consequences of an event occurring in terms of its overall impact on the marine environment.  The addition of scores gives the risk as per Figure 4. 

 

Likelihood

 

This is the probability of the impact occurring over a 5-year or 50-year timescale, taking into account the effectiveness of present and recently implemented (not planned) management arrangements and activities. 

Almost certain (score = 5)

Expected to occur often within 5 (50) years

Likely (score = 4)

Expected to occur at least once within 5 (50) years

Possible (score = 3)

Occurrence is possible within 5 (50) years

Unlikely (score = 2)

Occurrence is unlikely within 5 (50) years

Rare (score = 1)

Not expected to occur within a 5 (50) year period

 

 

Consequence/Impact

 

This is the extent and severity of the expected impact taking into account the effectiveness of present and recently implemented (not planned) management arrangements and activities.

Catastrophic (Score = 5)

Impact will seriously affect the ecosystem in the region, disrupting major ecosystem structure or function, and have recovery periods of more than 20 years (potentially irreversible)

Major (Score = 4)

Impact will seriously affect the ecosystem in the region, disrupting major ecosystem structure or function, and have recovery periods of less than 20 years

Moderate (Score = 3)

Impact will affect the ecosystem in the region, disrupting some aspects of ecosystem structure or function, and have recovery periods of less than 5 years

Minor (Score = 2)

Impact will be very limited spatially (<10% of area) and affect only minor components of the ecosystems in the region

Neglible (Score = 1)

Impact is spatially confined to a minor area (<5%) and cannot be detected outside of that area


 

Figure 4. The Inherent Risk Rating score for each risk is calculated by multiplying the Likelihood and Consequence ratings.  This provides a risk score of between 1 and 25 that gives a risk rating of High (15-25), Significant (8-12), Moderate (4-6) or Low (1-3).