Understanding socio-ecological complex systems better

The aim of the SAF21 project is to understand how to manage socio-ecological complex systems better. This knowledge will inform the development of innovative management strategies, particularly to address a shift to new regulatory regimes, which is necessary for the success of future complex pan-European initiatives.

The SAF21 project has the following objectives

  • Analyse fishers’ behaviour in relation with shifting management regimes and changing market demands in order to identify patterns of socio-economic resilience behaviour that could help formulating better fisheries management decision.

  • Analyse fishers’ behaviour in relation with trust building, risk perception and norms compliance in the context of stakeholder interaction in order to identify behavioural mechanisms based on which to build a multi-aspect simulation of the socio-ecological complex system of fisheries that would help developing better fisheries management strategies.

  • Develop a framework for the continuous socio-economic evaluation of fisheries that could be used for better management decisions.Provide guidelines for increasing public understanding of fisheries management related issues in order to circumscribe future activities aimed at increasing awareness and legal compliance.

  • Combine awareness, understanding and action in outreach activities to build on collective action and societal challenges, aiming at behavioural change of fishers regarding rules compliance.

The opportunity

The wide-ranging training envisaged will offer ten young researchers a structured doctoral programme in both academic and transferable skills in addition to highly intersectoral, non-academic mobility opportunities. At the end of the programme, the early stage researchers will have the necessary skills and experience to bridge the divide between sectors and disciplines. SAF21 will provide doctoral candidates the opportunity to fulfil their scientific social responsibility at a higher level than conventional doctoral programmes, by ensuring significant time and training for outreach activities.

Why does SAF21 need a consortium?

Such a complex research and training environment providing outreach opportunities could not be provided in a traditional context. None of the SAF21 project participants alone has all the necessary expertise to fulfil its individual research project, provide complex training and put it in such a wide outreach perspective. The exposure of the early stage researchers to the commercial sector during the programme is possible only due to the non-academic members of the SAF21 consortium.

Beneficiaries and Early Stage Researchers (ESRs)


Ixai Salvo Borda


Lia ní Aodha, Luz Karime Molina and Shaheen Syed


Cezara Pastrav


Theodora Sam and Charlotte T. Weber


Kristinn Nikulás Edvardsson


SAF21 Management Team

Melania Borit
Melania BoritProject Coordinator
Michaela Aschan
Michaela AschanScientific Adviser
Hanne Risan Johnsen
Hanne Risan JohnsenAdministrative Manager

External Advisory Panel

Alison Mitchell
Alison MitchellVitae, UK
Eva Hnátková
Eva HnátkováEurodoc
Grimur Valdimarsson
Grimur ValdimarssonMinistry of Industries and Innovation, Iceland
Mogens Schou
Mogens SchouAquamind, Denmark
Nanda Wijermans
Nanda WijermansStockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden

Beneficiaries with experience in fisheries

University of Tromso, University of Iceland, CETMAR and Matis are three beneficiaries with experience in fisheries management with slightly different approaches:

  • University of Tromso (UIT) – multi-disciplinary, but with focus on biological aspects.
  • Matis – multi-disciplinary, but with focus on economic aspects.
  • University of Iceland (UI) – multi-disciplinary, but with focus on social science aspects.
  • CETMAR – as the latter, but deepening the stakeholder interaction aspect.

Commercial, socio-ecological beneficiaries

Syntesa comes from a different angle, by bringing in their specific commercial knowledge and applying it in the context of the socio-ecological system of fisheries.

Social simulation beneficiaries

The Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and University of Utrecht (UU) are two beneficiaries with experience of social simulation approaches – ways of using agent-based simulation techniques to represent, explore and analyse social complexity. Each of the six partner organisations represents another job sector (with the exception of Zoomarine and South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR), who represent the same sector) and together with the beneficiaries provide a full spectrum of career opportunities to the SAF21 early stage researchers.