Fisheries management

Fisheries management is the activity of protecting fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible, drawing on fisheries science, and including the precautionary principle. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management means to implement the rules, which are put in place by a system of monitoring control and surveillance. A popular approach is the ecosystem approach to fisheries management. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are “no clear and generally accepted definitions of fisheries management”. However, the working definition used by the FAO and much cited elsewhere is:

The integrated process of information gathering, analysis, planning, consultation, decision-making, allocation of resources and formulation and implementation, with enforcement as necessary, of regulations or rules which govern fisheries activities in order to ensure the continued productivity of the resources and the accomplishment of other fisheries objectives.


Society, Economy and the Environment
The fishing (fishing) has influenced the development of the company, mainly around the coastal areas and the source of ancestral customs. This activity is today concerned by socio-economic, political and ecological issues. In terms of economy, fisheries provide many jobs, as they contribute to local and international trade, but also to tourism in some countries. According to the latest report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Asiagroups 84% of the fishing industry (2014 report). On the other hand, with the demographic expansion of the human population, demand has risen sharply. In more than 50 years, fishery products have tripled (from 33.9 million tonnes in 1960 to 91.3 million tonnes in 2012) and fish consumption per capita has doubled, from 10 kg in 1960 to 19 kg. in 2012. Beyond food use, there are many by-products of fishing that can be upgraded to biogas, makeup, fertilizer, gelatin, etc.; which increases the economic efficiency of the fishing industries.

From a social point of view, many factors accentuate the difficulty of managing this sector of activity, such as traditions, fishermen’s know-how, gastronomy and the heritage of each region. In addition, some questions pose problems in terms of ethics and the policies applied vary from one country to another, or even from one region to another, in adequacy with the biodiversity of the site. These issues show the importance of fisheries in the development of human populations. However, the first parameter impacted by fishing activities is the environment, and excessive exploitation of the environment may reduce the profitability of the sector. In 2011, 29% of marine fish stocks from commercial fisheries were overfished (FAO Report, 2014).

Fisheries have direct effects on natural populations by reducing the abundance of target species, disrupting their life cycles and increasing the mortality of non-target species that are caught incidentally. Indirect effects have larger scale impacts on species habitat and ecosystem balance. As a result of the awareness of the ecological impacts of fisheries on marine ecosystems, management integrates objectives of maintaining biodiversity, respect for the environment and sustainable activity.

The fishery is an activity exploiting natural populations, and each fishery exploits a specific fishery resource. Regulation is therefore necessary and must be applied taking into account several factors, particularly in terms of conservation. Laws can regulate fishing quotas according to different criteria such as the dynamics of the target population, the life cyclespecies, but they also target the behavior of the fishermen (adapted fishing gear, limit of the exploitation zone, respect of the environment). The regulations and limits imposed are specific to each country according to their needs, or their eating habits (case of Japan). Given the scale of this activity, international treaties have been signed between several states in order to engage each other in the exploitation of a fishing resource. Other forms of regulation exist at different levels, such as industry standards, but all these laws are put in place to ensure the sustainability of fisheries.

Use of scientific information
Since the dynamics of fisheries are complex and variable, systems are needed to predict their evolution over time. Management must be specific and designed in line with the regulations and objectives of each fishery. Several steps are necessary in order to have a good vision of all the data and information that are to be taken into account. The management of a fishery requires careful study.

Several parameters need to be included in the design and managers need to have a good knowledge of their fishery to ensure effective management. The scientific studies conducted on the dynamics of exploited populations and fisheries are an essential support to establish good management strategies. They provide essential data that can be of biological types (quantity of fish, fishing effort, species composition, exploited areas), and ecological (catches of species caught accidentally as certain indicator species, impacts of fishing gear on wildlife and aquatic flora, modification of natural habitats, protected areas to be taken into account for the conservation of species). Scientists rely on these data, while considering economic and social aspects, to develop fishery management models, according to different parameters at play. Modeling allows managers to visualize the evolution of a strategy along the way. term. Mathematical models are thus studied to guarantee maximum benefits for fishermen, while preserving exploited natural populations.

Fisheries have been explicitly managed in some places for hundreds of years. More than 80 percent of the worlds commercial exploitation of fish and shellfish are harvest from natural occurring populations in the oceans and freshwater areas. For example, the Māori people, New Zealand residents for about 700 years, had prohibitions against taking more than what could be eaten and about giving back the first fish caught as an offering to sea god Tangaroa. Starting in the 18th century attempts were made to regulate fishing in the North Norwegian fishery. This resulted in the enactment of a law in 1816 on the Lofoten fishery, which established in some measure what has come to be known as territorial use rights.

“The fishing banks were divided into areas belonging to the nearest fishing base on land and further subdivided into fields where the boats were allowed to fish. The allocation of the fishing fields was in the hands of local governing committees, usually headed by the owner of the onshore facilities which the fishermen had to rent for accommodation and for drying the fish.”

Governmental resource protection-based fisheries management is a relatively new idea, first developed for North European fisheries after the first Overfishing Conference held in London in 1936. In 1957 British fisheries researchers Ray Beverton and Sidney Holt published a seminal work on North Sea commercial fisheries dynamics. In the 1960s the work became the theoretical platform for North European management schemes.

After some years away from the field of fisheries management, Beverton criticized his earlier work in a paper given at the first World Fisheries Congress in Athens in 1992. “The Dynamics of Exploited Fish Populations” expressed his concerns, including the way his and Sidney Holt’s work had been misinterpreted and misused by fishery biologists and managers during the previous 30 years. Nevertheless, the institutional foundation for modern fishery management had been laid.

In 1996, the Marine Stewardship Council was founded to set standards for sustainable fishing. In 2010, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council was created to do the same for aquaculture.

A report by Prince Charles’ International Sustainability Unit, the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund and 50in10 published in July 2014 estimated global fisheries were adding $270 billion a year to global GDP, but by full implementation of sustainable fishing, that figure could rise by an extra amount of as much as $50 billion.

Political objectives
According to the FAO, fisheries management should be based explicitly on political objectives, ideally with transparent priorities. Typical political objectives when exploiting a fish resource are to:

maximize sustainable biomass yield
maximize sustainable economic yield
secure and increase employment
secure protein production and food supplies
increase export income

Such political goals can also be a weak part of fisheries management, since the objectives can conflict with each other.

International objectives
Fisheries objectives need to be expressed in concrete management rules. In most countries fisheries management rules should be based on the internationally agreed, though non-binding, Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, agreed at a meeting of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization FAO session in 1995. The precautionary approach it prescribes is typically implemented in concrete management rules as minimum spawning biomass, maximum fishing mortality rates, etc. In 2005 the UBC Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia comprehensively reviewed the performance of the world’s major fishing nations against the Code.

International agreements are required in order to regulate fisheries in international waters. The desire for agreement on this and other maritime issues led to three conferences on the Law of the Sea, and ultimately to the treaty known as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Concepts such as exclusive economic zones (EEZ, extending 200 nautical miles (370 km) from a nation’s coasts) allocate certain sovereign rights and responsibilities for resource management to individual countries.

Other situations need additional intergovernmental coordination. For example, in the Mediterranean Sea and other relatively narrow bodies of water, EEZ of 200 nautical miles (370 km) are irrelevant. International waters beyond 12-nautical-mile (22 km) from shore require explicit agreements.

Straddling fish stocks, which migrate through more than one EEZ also present challenges. Here sovereign responsibility must be agreed with neighbouring coastal states and fishing entities. Usually this is done through the medium of a regional organisation set up for the purpose of coordinating the management of that stock.

UNCLOS does not prescribe precisely how fisheries confined only to international waters should be managed. Several new fisheries (such as high seas bottom trawling fisheries) are not (yet) subject to international agreement across their entire range. In November 2004 the UN General Assembly issued a resolution on Fisheries that prepared for further development of international fisheries management law.

Management mechanisms
Many countries have set up Ministries/Government Departments, named “Ministry of Fisheries” or similar, controlling aspects of fisheries within their exclusive economic zones. Four categories of management means have been devised, regulating either input/investment, or output, and operating either directly or indirectly:

Inputs Outputs
Indirect Vessel licensing Catching techniques
Direct Limited entry Catch quota and technical regulation
Technical means may include:

prohibiting devices such as bows and arrows, and spears, or firearms
prohibiting nets
setting minimum mesh sizes
limiting the average potential catch of a vessel in the fleet (vessel and crew size, gear, electronic gear and other physical “inputs”.
prohibiting bait
limits on fish traps
limiting the number of poles or lines per fisherman
restricting the number of simultaneous fishing vessels
limiting a vessel’s average operational intensity per unit time at sea
limiting average time at sea

Catch quotas
Systems that use individual transferable quotas (ITQ), also called individual fishing quota limit the total catch and allocate shares of that quota among the fishers who work that fishery. Fishers can buy/sell/trade shares as they choose.

A large scale study in 2008 provided strong evidence that ITQ’s can help to prevent fishery collapse and even restore fisheries that appear to be in decline. Other studies have shown negative socio-economic consequences of ITQs, especially on small-sclale fisheries. These consequences include concentration of quota in that hands of few fishers; increased number of inactive fishers leasing their quotas to others (a phenomenon known as armchair fishermen); and detrimental effects on coastal communities.

Precautionary principle
A Fishery Manager’s Guidebook issued in 2002 by the FAO, advises that a set of working principles should be applied to “highlight the underlying key issues” of fisheries management.”:130 There are 8 principles that should be considered as a whole in order to best manage a fishery. The first principle focuses on the finite nature of fish stocks and how potential yields must be estimated based on the biological constraints of the population.

In a paper published in 2007, Shertzer and Prager suggested that there can be significant benefits to stock biomass and fishery yield if management is stricter and more prompt. This is supported by recent work on the management of North Sea fisheries in accordance with ranges of acceptable fishing, where fishing at the top of the “acceptable” ranges is many times more risky than fishing near the bottom, but delivers only 20% more yield.

Fisheries law
Fisheries law is an emerging and specialized area of law which includes the study and analysis of different fisheries management approaches, including seafood safety regulations and aquaculture regulations. Despite its importance, this area is rarely taught at law schools around the world, which leaves a vacuum of advocacy and research.

Fisheries legislation on a national level differs greatly between countries:130 Fisheries may also me managed on an international level. One the first laws enacted was the “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (LOS Convention), which entered into force in 1994”:130 This law set the foundation for all international agreements related to oceans that followed.

Climate change
In the past, changing climate has affected inland and offshore fisheries and such changes are likely to continue. From a fisheries perspective, the specific driving factors of climate change include rising water temperature, alterations in the hydrologic cycle, changes in nutrient fluxes, and relocation of spawning and nursery habitat. Further, changes in such factors would affect resources at all levels of biological organization, including the genetic, organism, population, and ecosystem levels. Understanding how these factors affect fisheries at a more nuanced level stand as challenges that fish biologists, across multiple fields, still need to face.

Population dynamics
Population dynamics describes the growth and decline of a given fishery stock over time, as controlled by birth, death and migration. It is the basis for understanding changing fishery patterns and issues such as habitat destruction, predation and optimal harvesting rates. The population dynamics of fisheries has been traditionally used by fisheries scientists to determine sustainable yields.

The basic accounting relation for population dynamics is the BIDE model:

N1 = N0 + B − D + I − E
where N1 is the number of individuals at time 1, N0 is the number of individuals at time 0, B is the number of individuals born, D the number that died, I the number that immigrated, and E the number that emigrated between time 0 and time 1. While immigration and emigration can be present in wild fisheries, they are usually not measured.

Care is needed when applying population dynamics to real world fisheries. In the past, over-simplistic modelling, such as ignoring the size, age and reproductive status of the fish, focusing solely on a single species, ignoring bycatch and physical damage to the ecosystem, has accelerated the collapse of key stocks.

Ecosystem based fisheries
According to marine ecologist Chris Frid, the fishing industry points to pollution and global warming as the causes of unprecedentedly low fish stocks in recent years, writing, “Everybody would like to see the rebuilding of fish stocks and this can only be achieved if we understand all of the influences, human and natural, on fish dynamics.” Overfishing has also had an effect. Frid adds, “Fish communities can be altered in a number of ways, for example they can decrease if particular sized individuals of a species are targeted, as this affects predator and prey dynamics. Fishing, however, is not the sole perpetrator of changes to marine life – pollution is another example No one factor operates in isolation and components of the ecosystem respond differently to each individual factor.”

In contrast to the traditional approach of focusing on a single species, the ecosystem-based approach is organized in terms of ecosystem services. Ecosystem-based fishery concepts have been implemented in some regions. In 2007 a group of scientists offered the following ten commandments

“Keep a perspective that is holistic, risk-adverse and adaptive.
Maintain an “old growth” structure in fish populations, since big, old and fat female fish have been shown to be the best spawners, but are also susceptible to overfishing.
Characterize and maintain the natural spatial structure of fish stocks, so that management boundaries match natural boundaries in the sea.
Monitor and maintain seafloor habitats to make sure fish have food and shelter.
Maintain resilient ecosystems that are able to withstand occasional shocks.
Identify and maintain critical food-web connections, including predators and forage species.
Adapt to ecosystem changes through time, both short-term and on longer cycles of decades or centuries, including global climate change.
Account for evolutionary changes caused by fishing, which tends to remove large, older fish.
Include the actions of humans and their social and economic systems in all ecological equations.”

Report to Congress (2009): The State of Science to Support an Ecosystem Approach to Regional Fishery Management National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-F/SPO-96.

Elderly maternal fish
Traditional management practices aim to reduce the number of old, slow-growing fish, leaving more room and resources for younger, faster-growing fish. Most marine fish produce huge numbers of eggs. The assumption was that younger spawners would produce plenty of viable larvae.

However, 2005 research on rockfish shows that large, elderly females are far more important than younger fish in maintaining productive fisheries. The larvae produced by these older maternal fish grow faster, survive starvation better, and are much more likely to survive than the offspring of younger fish. Failure to account for the role of older fish may help explain recent collapses of some major US West Coast fisheries. Recovery of some stocks is expected to take decades. One way to prevent such collapses is to establish marine reserves, where fishing is not allowed and fish populations age naturally.

Data quality
According to fisheries scientist Milo Adkison, the primary limitation in fisheries management decisions is the absence of quality data. Fisheries management decisions are often based on population models, but the models need quality data to be effective. He asserts that scientists and fishery managers would be better served with simpler models and improved data.

The most reliable source for summary statistics is the FAO Fisheries Department.

Ecopath, with Ecosim (EwE), is an ecosystem modelling software suite. It was initially a NOAA initiative led by Jeffrey Polovina, later primarily developed at the UBC Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia. In 2007, it was named as one of the ten biggest scientific breakthroughs in NOAA’s 200-year history. The citation states that Ecopath “revolutionized scientists’ ability worldwide to understand complex marine ecosystems”. Behind this lies two decades of development work by Villy Christensen, Carl Walters, Daniel Pauly, and other fisheries scientists. As of 2010 there are 6000 registered users in 155 countries. Ecopath is widely used in fisheries management as a tool for modelling and visualising the complex relationships that exist in real world marine ecosystems.

Human factors
Managing fisheries is about managing people and businesses, and not about managing fish. Fish populations are managed by regulating the actions of people. If fisheries management is to be successful, then associated human factors, such as the reactions of fishermen, are of key importance, and need to be understood.

Management regulations must also consider the implications for stakeholders. Commercial fishermen rely on catches to provide for their families just as farmers rely on crops. Commercial fishing can be a traditional trade passed down from generation to generation. Most commercial fishing is based in towns built around the fishing industry; regulation changes can impact an entire town’s economy. Cuts in harvest quotas can have adverse effects on the ability of fishermen to compete with the tourism industry.

Effective management of fisheries includes involving all stakeholders in the fishery. To do this successfully, stakeholders need to feel empowered enough to make meaningful contributions to the management process.

Empowerment has a wide application but in this context it refers to a tool that gives people within the fishing communities an opportunity to shape their own future in order to cope with the impacts from large-scale commercial fishing, competition of resources, and other threats that impact fishing communities.

However, there are limits to empowerment in the fisheries management process. Empowerment maintains an involvement on the part of the state in fisheries management and no matter how empowered the other stakeholders are, the success of fisheries isn’t possible without the legislative powers, financial resources, educational support, and research the government provides.

This concept is not accepted by all, as some communities and individuals argue that the state should withdraw completely and let the local communities handle their own fishery management based on cultural traditions and established practices. Additionally, others have argued that co-management only empowers the wealthy and powerful which in turn solidifies and validates the already existing inequalities of fisheries management.

Empowerment working as a function of co-management, carried out correctly, will not only enable but it will authorize individuals and communities to make meaningful contributions to fisheries management. It is a mechanism that works in a loop, where an individual gains empowerment and encouragement from being a part of the group and the collective action is only successful because of its empowered individuals. In order to effectively and successfully use empowerment as co-management, it is imperative that study programs, guidelines, reading materials, manuals, and checklists are developed and incorporated into all fisheries management.

The biomass of certain global fish stocks have been allowed to run down. The biomass of many species have now diminished to the point where it is no longer possible to sustainably catch the amount of fish that could be caught. According to a 2008 UN report, titled The Sunken Billions: The Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform, the world’s fishing fleets incur a “$US 50 billion annual economic loss” through depleted stocks and poor fisheries management. The report, produced jointly by the World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), asserts that half the world’s fishing fleet could be scrapped with no change in catch.

“By improving governance of marine fisheries, society could capture a substantial part of this $50 billion annual economic loss. Through comprehensive reform, the fisheries sector could become a basis for economic growth and the creation of alternative livelihoods in many countries. At the same time, a nation’s natural capital in the form of fish stocks could be greatly increased and the negative impacts of the fisheries on the marine environment reduced.”

The most prominent failure of fisheries management in recent times has perhaps been the events that lead to the collapse of the northern cod fisheries. More recently, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists produced a series of journalistic investigations called Looting the seas. These detail investigations into the black market for bluefin tuna, the subsidies propping up the Spanish fishing industry, and the overfishing of the Chilean jack mackerel.

Sustainable management

Marine Protected Areas (MPA)
One of the strategies for sustainable management is the establishment of marine protected areas. MPAs are ecologically interesting because they contribute to the conservation of natural resources and the protection of certain threatened species. These restricted areas are prohibited for fishing activities. Their interests are numerous, but as far as fisheries management is concerned, the major interest is the restoration of natural environments, which have been too long subjected to exploitation by humans. This allows overfished fish populations to reproduce and to replenish biomassimportant. In this sense, MPAs have an indirect advantage for fishermen who will be able to catch surplus fish from protected areas.

Scientists have tried to evaluate the effectiveness of MPAs on the recovery of declining fish stocks, particularly on the example of cod populations in the Baltic SeaEastern. Studies are based on a spatio-temporal model called ISIS-Fish to test the performance of protected areas already established, according to different conditions of environmental forcings. The recruitment of cod populations depends on the oxygen content in the water, which is influenced by ocean and atmospheric currents. The observations were therefore made over the long term, taking into account favorable and unfavorable environmental characteristics. The results show that under favorable conditions (in a stable environment), the fishing effort will be sustainable even without any closure of areas. In adverse conditions, however, no specific closure scenario is effective. An evaluation of the various closure management means was also carried out, without taking into account this time the variations of the environment. The results show that the reduction in effort and mortality due to closed fishing seasons is beneficial for the rebuilding of fish stocks.

The aquaculture restores some fish species subject to fishing pressure. This is a practice that has grown significantly over the last decade, depending on market demand. Today, more than 200 species of fish and shellfish are cultivated by different types of aquaculture. These farms located near the coast, allow to increase the production of a particular species of fish.

This type of exploitation makes it possible to limit the industrial fishing by considerably increasing the production of the stock in the coastal zones. Price changes affect the fishing of natural populations, but fish from aquaculture are partly fed by wild stocks. These two types of exploitation are therefore linked and aquaculture depends on the fishing of wild stocks. To avoid this problem, cultured fish are often of low trophic level because their diet is of the herbivorous type and does not therefore need to be fed by wild fish. Aquaculture can not replace open sea fishing.

Artificial reefs
The artificial reefs are now widely used to restore the ecosystem favorable to the rehabilitation of the aquatic fauna and flora. This is an important tool for the management of fishing stocks because in all cases, this type of management increases fish density and biomass. The size of the reefs and the type of materials used can attract different species of fish, but especially different age classes.

Indeed, in the United States, reefs recruit adult fish, while in Japan, artificial reefs are built to attract juveniles and young broodstock. Since fish are grouped around the same structure, reefs reduce fishing effort and maximize catches. There is therefore an increase in recreational fishermen in these areas. In Japan, artificial reefs are very extensive and allow commercial fishing at a lower cost, as fishing effort is low. Despite an increase in fish stocks, these reefs do not increase production. The establishment of these structures should not however be at the origin of new overexploitation of stocks.

Source from Wikipedia