ESD Glossary

Ecologically Sustainable Development Glossary

Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) is a very complex issue that is made more confusing by its large reliance on specialised terminology and jargon.  This confusion can be even greater if the many terms used in describing ESD and its processes are not defined adequately – often, some of the terms are used interchangeably, sometimes in the same document.

In particular, terms such as ‘principles’, ‘objectives’, ‘goals’ and ‘criteria’ are frequently used to mean the same thing.  Moreover, confusion in terminology also arises when the adjective ‘sustainable’ is combined with other words to give terms such as “sustainable fishery”, “sustainable stock”, “sustainable fishing”, “sustainable management”, and “sustainable catch”.  However, the word “sustainable” can have very different meanings to different people and the use of it can prove useless unless precisely defined.

It was considered vital for the successful implementation of ESD reporting and assessment to develop a list of definitions that included simple, minimalist terminology.  Whilst alternative definitions are possible, for the purpose of this exercise the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Agriculture’s Working Group and the ESD Reporting and Assessment Reference Group have agreed on the following definitions, developed by the Bureau of Rural Sciences.

Standard Definitions for ESD Terms
Sustainable development
ecologically sustainable
Using, conserving and enhancing the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased (National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development, Council of Australia Governments, 1992).
Sustainable fishery A fishery that is consistent with ecologically sustainable development (i.e. a fishery that uses, conserves and enhances the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased).
Fishery A unit determined by an authority or other entity that is engaged in raising and/or harvesting fish.  Typically the unit is defined in terms of some or all of the following: people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats and purpose of the activities.
Component A major area of relevance to fisheries with respect to ESD (e.g. target species, bycatch species, marine environment, resource use/allocation, employment, income, lifestyle/culture, governance).
sub-sub-component, etc.
Further sub-divisions of the components.
Core objectives Core ESD objectives for fisheries (also sometimes called ‘principles’).
Operational objective* An objective that has a direct and practical interpretation in the context of a fishery and against which performance can be evaluated (in terms of achievement).
Indicator* A quantity that can be measured and used to track changes with respect to an operational objective.  The measurement is not necessarily restricted to numerical values.  For example, categorical values may be used.
Performance measure* A function that converts the value of an indicator to a measure of management performance with respect to the operational objective (can be a limit, a target a trend, etc.).
Reference point The value of an indicator that can be used as a benchmark of performance against an operational objective.

* The operational objective, indicator, and performance measure (or some other form of interpretation) are a package.  Each of the three elements of the package is essential to properly define and interpret an indicator.  One or more reference points may form part of the description of the performance measure.

5 – An objective can be made into a criterion by re-wording and replacing “to .. ” with “should” or “must”.

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