Also known as management measures or approaches, fishery management mechanisms are sometimes classified broadly into input controls (including mechanisms which restrict the fishing effort going into the fishery) and output controls (including mechanisms which limit the catch coming out of the fishery).

However, since some authorities doubt the utility of this classification, the various measures are simply listed on this page. The brief description here is amplified by links to more detailed articles on the subject.

Closed areas[edit | edit source]

The closure of geographically-defined areas, aither permanently or temporarily, to all or some forms of fishing, has a long history and is possibly the most ancient form of fishery management.

It is also one of the most ambiguous, in terms of intent. Before the modern era, and as is still the case in many "non-western" societies, interventions in fisheries were probably not primarily for the purpose of conserving stocks but for other primary purposes (such as asserting control over resources in the face of outside encroachment, or as a sign of respect after the death of a chief), but with the secondary effect of limiting impact on stocks.

The Marine Protected Area (MPA) is one of the modern-day expressions of this ancient fishery management mechanism, but is on some ways more restricted than a fishery management closed area, and in some ways much broader.

  • "more restricted" because MPAs are generally permanent, and generally enshrined in hard legislation, whilst closed areas are generally a more tactical response that can be lifted and hardened or softened, or shifted, according to need;
  • "broader" because MPAs are generally imposed for primary reasons other than fishery resource management, although restricting fishing to any extent, for whatever reason, has consequences for fishery management.

There is some debate about the role of MPAs in fishery management.

Closed seasons[edit | edit source]

Preventing fishing at certain times of year, or during certain periods, also has a long history. Some fisheries may remain closed most of the time and be opened up for only short harvesting periods - in which case the mechanism might more properly be called open seasons, but the most usual motivation for a closed season in a fishery is to provide protection during spawning, or during a particularly vulnerable and time-critical stage of the life-cycle.

Size limits[edit | edit source]

Restricting the size of the fish that anyone is allowed to catch, or possess, is a fairly broad-brush fishery management measure that is usually intended to protect either sexually-immature fish, or larger more-fecund fish (or both).

Gear restrictions[edit | edit source]

Limitations on the kind of fishing methods, or the design of the fishing gear that can be used in a certain area, or fishery, are also of ancient origin. Gear restrictions can serve the purpose of protecting young fish and conserving stocks (as in many net minimum mesh-size regulations), preventing damage to substrates, reducing by-catch, or reducing the proportion of low-value catch (as in banning the use of spears for catching crayfish, thus improving their market value).

Licencing[edit | edit source]

Licencing of individuals, or vessels, fishing can have several aims, but the most fundamental of these is registration - to define and quantify the fishing community both in order to inform government policy on fisheries, and to enable fishery management legislation.

Limited entry licencing[edit | edit source]

Limiting the number of licences that can be issued for a particular fishery is a basic form of effort or input control. Licences for registration purposes usually do not cost a great deal, since the idea is to quantify rather than restrict, but limited entry licences can require considerable outlay. If licences are issued annually, this is essentially a tax on the fishery, but licences can also be issued as property, either as transferable, or non-tranferable rights (see transferable quotas)

Catch quotas[edit | edit source]

Limiting the amount of fish that can be removed from a fish stock is a basic form of output control. It requires a fair amount of investment in monitoring since each landing of fish must be independently quantified and the amount of discarded fish assessed. As fishermen are normally only accountable for landings a number of regulations and controls are often put in place to reduce excess fishing effort resulting in discards and misreportings. In relation to the Common Fisheries Policy in EU, Denmark, Germany and UK has proposedthat fishermen should gradually be accountable for all their catches. A management and control paradigm to serve this objective is presented at []

Market quotas[edit | edit source]

Applying quotas at the point of trade - limiting market business rather than directly limiting fishing - is another method of regulating fisheries that is explained more full in the article on Market quotas

Transferable quotas[edit | edit source]

The individual Transferable quota (or ITQ) is a way of allocating fishing rights, and it is one of the more controversial forms of fishery management mechanism. Some see the conversion of a fishery ITQ as giving public property to a few individuals, whilst others see it as the most natural way within a modern economy of efficiently managing a limited natural resource and cultivating a sense of stewardship through ownership. Recent research (Christopher Costello) suggest, that ITQ systems benefit a more sustainable use of the marine resources. First and foremost ITQ result in a viable balance between fishing capacity and fishing possibilities. Only little consideration has been given to the use of ITQ to sustain small scale and coastal fisheries. Recent results in the Danish ITQ fishery showed that a "coastal preference" could be effectively introduced without compromising economic efficiency in the fishing fleet.

Fishing rights ownership[edit | edit source]

The ownership of the right to fish is a longstanding mechanism both in European riverine fisheries (usually individual ownership) and Pacific Island reef fisheries (usually communal ownership). A transferable quota can also be considered as a kind of fishing rights ownership. There is a rich and varied literature on this particular management mechanism.

Note that most fishing rights stop short of actual ownership of the seabed or riverbed, and extend only to the right to take fish under certain rules. Fiji is one country that is about to take the unusual step of transferring actual seabed ownership away from the State, albeit to a national fisheries commission set up for the purpose of managing the use of communally-owned fishing grounds held in trust.

Ecosystem-based management[edit | edit source]

More of a philosophy than a mechanism at this stage, ecosystem-based management of fisheries currently labels the general move towards fishery management that takes into account both non-target species or incidental catch, forage species and climatic or oceanographic effects on fish stocks dynamics, land-based effects on fisheries, and particular combinations of these.

There is a great deal of controversy and many citizens of the United States are questioning relationships between tax-exempt, 501c3 organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund, PEW, TIDES, the Walton Family Trust, Tyson Foods, and similiar ideological groups and the regulators controlling fishery management.

Fishery management in the United States is controlled by eight 501c3s -- "quasi-government" tax-exempt organizations created by the Magnuson-Stevens act.

Community-based management[edit | edit source]

Again, more of a philosophy than a mechanism, community-based management can include many of the management measures outlined in this section. The basic defining characteristic though is that decision-making rests within the community that either owns the fishing rights, or does the fishing, or both, rather than being imposed from outside or "on high". This can range from traditional village-based systems to self-regulation decisions made by modern fleets. Such systems usually depend on some form of ownership of fishing rights or access to fishing grounds, and of recognition by the government.

Adaptive management[edit | edit source]

Like the Ecosystem approach to fishery management, adaptive management is more of a management approach than a mechanism. As first coined, the term adaptive management means the application of a change to a fishery of sufficient magnitude to produce statistically significant, measurable, changes in the stock. But nowadays it is usually understood to mean progressive action that is guided by assessing the results of previous actions.

Built-in inefficiency[edit | edit source]

Many fishery management measures effectively result in inefficiency, by requiring fishing vessels to be underutilised or requiring more work to be expended to catch the same weight of fish using less than optimal fishing methods. People who fish usually strive to increase their efficiency, which results in what almost amounts to an "arms race" between regulators and fishers, but there are also cases where the fishing community itself prefers to restrict the efficiency of the gear that can be used, particularly if the more-efficient gear is expensive and can only be afforded by outsiders, or big business.

Novel fishery management approaches[edit | edit source]

Many people have ideas, over the years, about how fisheries ought to be managed, or how the rights to fish ought to be allocated. Some of these are collected into the section on Novel fishery management approaches. If you have a great idea that you think will solve the problems of a particular fishery, or indeed all of the world's fisheries problems, this is the place to record it.

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