Goherr: First International Stakeholder Workshop

From Opasnet
Jump to: navigation, search

The aim of the stakeholder workshop

On February 16-17th 2016, Bonus GOHERR project organized an international stakeholder workshop in Copenhagen. The aim of the workshop was to bring stakeholders and experts from the four case study countries of the project, that is, Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Sweden, to discuss the dioxin problem of Baltic herring. The workshop discussion are an important source of research material for the project and therefore summaries of the discussions are not presented at this stage.


Bella Centre, Centre Blvd. 5, 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark


Stakeholder group Organisation
Baltic herring fishers and producers The Association of the Sea fishers of Southern Finland

Estonian Fishermen’s Association

Swedish Fishermen’s Federation

Producers of Fishmeal and fish oil Marine Ingredients of Denmark
Policy makers Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, Department for Fisheries Management.
Researchers International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)

The Baltic Fisheries Assessment Working Group (WGBFAS)

Representatives from both research sector and policy making National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland

National food agency, Sweden

Food Safety Department of Ministry of Agriculture, Estonia

Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, Denmark

NGOs Marine Stewardship Council

(WWF – cancellation, however, WWF representative sent comments on the workshop questions prior to the event. These views were included in the discussions)

(Active consumers - cancellation)



Introductions and icebreaker game

After a short presentation of the BONUS GOHERR project and the overall aim of the workshop, the stakeholders as well as project researchers introduced themselves. An icebreaker game was used to get everyone more comfortable and ready to go. In the game, the Baltic Sea region was imagined on the floor of the meeting room and each participant went to a certain location in the region from which she/he wanted to share a memory relating to Baltic Sea and/or Baltic herring. In addition, the stakeholders introduced themselves, where they were from, why they thought they had been invited and what were their expectations from the event. The GOHERR researchers also participated in the game. For the group discussion sessions, the stakeholders were divided into two groups: fisheries group and dioxins group based on their expertise.

Fisheries group

The fisheries group discussed the implications of dioxins to Baltic herring fishing sector and the global prospects for herring fishing industry. The main focus was on the Estonian, Finnish and Swedish fisheries. The discussions were moderated according to the following outline:

1. Position of each participant: round-table discussion (5 min each participant) on the stakeholder perceptions on the dioxin problem of Baltic herring. How do you perceive the dioxin problem of Baltic herring? What are the most important aspects of the problem? What are the solution possibilities?

2. How would herring industry change if dioxin decreased to a “safe” level?

3. What are the objectives for the use of herring? Discussion on/defining common objectives. Do the stakeholders disagree on some objectives and if they do, why? Deliberation on existing objectives (e.g. their relevance, which ones are the most relevant and why).

4. How herring market/use might change in the future (2040)? What are the most important affecting factors, and

5. What would be the most desirable/undesirable state of herring fishery/use in 2040?

The stakeholders in the fisheries group included representatives of Baltic herring fishery from Finland, Estonia and Sweden, fish meal industry, MSC labeling (NGO), herring scientists and policy makers. The invited ENGO representative was not able to participate, but sent comments to the abovementioned questions via email prior to the event. These comments were included in the discussions.

Dioxins group

The main questions addressed in the dioxins group were 1) how serious a risk is dioxin in herring to humans, and 2) how dioxins affect consumers’ fish eating habits compared to other factors. The purpose was to identify and describe relevant policies, actions, objectives, and health impacts related to a) dioxin in herring and b) herring consumption. In addition to discussions, collaborative writing was utilized. The information will be used in policy and impact assessments performed later in the GOHERR project.

The target of the dioxins group discussion was not to reach a consensus, but to produce shared understanding of the issues. This means a wide understanding about facts and values of different stakeholders so that opinions and reasons for disagreement can be read and understood by others. Participants were encouraged to think and express not only their own personal views and the position of the institution they were representing but also other relevant opinions and ideas even if they disagreed with them. The following questions were discussed related to both topics, health and consumption:

1. What objectives are there related to the topic (health, consumption)?

2. What outcomes determine success (e.g. health impacts, risks,...)?

3. What factors affect these outcomes?

4. What actions modify the factors so that objectives are met?

5. What governance structures could exist in support of the actions needed?

Additionally, the dioxin group defined favorable as well as unfavorable future states in 2040 related to health and dioxin in herring. The participants of the dioxins group included experts representing both research sector and policy making from Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Estonia.

Plenary session

The discussions were summarized in a plenary session by assigned observers.

In addition, a consumer questionnaire related to consumers’ fish eating habits in the case study countries, prepared/developed in WP 5, was tested during the plenary session and valuable feedback was received.


The second day was launched with a presentation on “the impact of Interaction between salmon and herring on dioxin accumulation, and opportunities to reduce dioxin by size-selective fishing”.


This was followed by an introduction to backcasting methodology and the related desirable future states for the use of herring in 2040 and the level of dioxins in Baltic fish. The participants were then divided into three groups for backcasting exercises. Each group had one desirable future state that was backcasted during the sessions.

Backcasting exercise was divided into the following four steps:

Step 1: Participatory identification of (three) (un)desirable future objectives.

Step 2: Development paths and milestones to reach / avoid certain futures in timeline.

Step 3: Set of stakeholder specific governance actions that need to be executed to reach the desired goal and related milestones.

Step 4: Evaluation of impacts and side effects of actions

In the parallel backcasting sessions, steps 2 and 3 were conducted, but step 4 was left mostly for the GOHERR research team to do after the workshop due to time limitations.


After the backcasting sessions, the discussions were summarized in a plenary session. Conclusions of the workshop were also drawn. The stakeholders were given a feedback questionnaire on the workshop during the plenary sessions. Based on the feedback, most participants considered the event useful and interesting.

After the workshop

The workshop provides valuable research material for GOHERR project. Therefore all the sessions were recorded and are currently being transcribed prior to analysis. The material will be used especially in WP3 and WP2, but also in other WPs of GOHERR. Furthermore, the group discussion sessions will help to clarify the structure of a decision support model that will be built to combine the results of the project. The first official results from the workshop are going to be presented in the EURSAFE 2016 ”Food futures – ethics, science and culture” congress in Portugal (September 2016).