Fisheries management

Fisheries management

Fisheries management is today often referred to as a governmental system of management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management means to implement the rules, which is put in place by a system of monitoring control and surveillance (MCS). Modern fisheries management is most often based on biological arguments where the idea is to protect the biological resource in order to make a sustainable exploitation possible.


The control of fisheries and fish production has been exercised in many places around the world for hundreds of years.

For example, the Māori people, residents of New Zealand for about the last 900 years, had strict rules in their traditional fishing activities about not taking more than could be eaten and about throwing back the first fish caught (as an offering to Tangaroa, god of the sea).

Another longstanding example is the North Norwegian fishery off the Lofoten islands, where a law has existed for more than 200 years to control fishing activity, in this case primarily motivated by problems occurring during periods of high density of fishers and fishing gear. To avoid gear collisions, gillnetters and longliners are separated and not allowed to fish in the same grounds south of Lofoten.

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

After some years away from the field of fisheries management, Ray Beverton reassessed his earlier work and in a paper given at the first World Fisheries Congress in Athens in 1992, he criticised some of the concepts that he had earlier laid out in "The Dynamics of Exploited Fish Populations" and expressed concern at the way his and Sydney Holt's work has been misinterpreted and misused by so many fishery biologists and managers during the previous 30 years. Nevertheless, the institutional foundation for modern fishery management had been laid.


The political goal of resource use is often a weak part of the system of fisheries management, as conflicting objectives are often found.

Political objectives often found when exploiting a fish resource:
* Maximise sustainable biomass yield (see maximum sustainable yield)
* Maximise sustainable economic yield (see optimum sustainable yield)
* Secure and increase employment in certain regions
* Secure protein production and food supply
* Increase income from export
* Biological and economic yield

Management rules

International agreements are required in order to regulate fisheries taking place in areas outside national control. The desire for agreement on this and other maritime issues led to the 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 convert|200|nmi|km from the nation's coasts) allocate certain sovereign rights and responsibilities for resource management to individual countries.

There are a number of situations that need additional intergovernmental coordination. For example, in the Mediterranean Sea and other relatively narrow bodies of water, EEZ of 200 nautical miles are irrelevant, yet there are international waters beyond the convert|12|nmi|km|sing=on line of coastal sovereignty. International agreements, therefore, must be worked out for fishery management in the international waters of the narrow sea. In the case of highly migratory species and straddling fish stocks, this sovereign responsibility must be exercised in collaboration with neighbouring coastal states and fishing entities, usually through the medium of an intergovernmental regional organisation set up for the purpose of coordinating the management of that stock.

UNCLOS does not prescribe precisely how fisheries that occur solely in international waters should be managed, and there are several new fisheries (such as high seas bottom trawling fisheries) that are not yet subject to international agreement across their entire range. Both of these issues came to a head within the United Nations in 2004 and the UN General Assembly issued a resolution on Fisheries in November 2004 which set the scene for the further development of international fisheries management law.

Fisheries objectives need to be expressed in concrete management rules. In most countries the management rules today should be based on the internationally agreed, albeit non-binding, standard Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, agreed at an FAO session in 1995. The precautionary approach prescribed here is also implemented in concrete management rules as minimum spawning biomass, maximum fishing mortality rates, etc.

Management mechanisms

When it comes to controlling the activities of individual fishers or fishing operations (vessels or companies), available management means can be sorted into four categories:

Taxation on input; vessel licensingTaxation on output; restrictions on catching techniques
Limited entry controlCatch quota and technical regulation

The top row represents indirect methods while the bottom row represents direct methods of regulation. vessel monitoring systems, patrol vessels and aircraft, and observers aboard fishing vessels are examples of direct regulatory methods. The left column shows input controls and the right column output controls.

Many countries have set up Ministries and Government Departments, named "Ministry of Fisheries" or similar, controlling aspects of fisheries within their exclusive economic zones.

Technical regulation of fishing may include:
* the prohibition of fishing with the use of mechanical devices such as bows and arrows, and spears, or firearms
* the prohibition of fishing with nets
* the prohibition of fishing with bait
* snagging of fish
* regulation of fish traps
* restrictions on the number of poles or lines per fisherman


According to a 2008 UN report, the world's fishing fleets are losing $50 billion USD each year 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. In addition, the biomass of global fish stocks have been allowed to run down to the point where it is no longer possible to catch the amount of fish that could be caught. [ [ Fisheries waste costs billions] BBC News, 8 October 2008.]



*Beverton, R. J. H., and S. J. Holt. 1957. "On the dynamics of exploited fish populations." Chapman and Hall, London, Facsimile reprint 1993.
* Morgan, Gary; Staples, Derek and Funge-Smith, Simon (2007) [ "Fishing capacity management and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Asia"] FAO RAP Publication. 2007/17. ISBN 978-92-5-005669-2
* Townsend, R; Shotton, Ross and Uchida, H (2008) [ "Case studies in fisheries self-governance"] FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No 504. ISBN 978-92-5-105897-8
*Voigtlander, C. W. (Ed.) 1994. "The State of the World's Fisheries Resources. Proceedings of the World Fisheries Congress (Athens, 1992), Plenary Sessions." (Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., 66 Janpath, N.Delhi 110 001, INDIA). 204 p.
*UNEP (2007). " [ Procedure for Establishing a Regional System of Fisheries Refugia in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand in the context of the UNEP/GEF project entitled: “Reversing Environmental Degradation Trends in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand”] ". South China Sea Knowledge Document No. 4. UNEP/GEF/SCS/Inf.4

ee also

*Age class structure
*Fishing capacity
*Marine conservation
*Marine Protected Area
*Maximum sustainable yield

External links

*wikia|fisherymanagement|Fishery Management - founded by a practitioner
* [ NZ Fisheries Planning Site] - An online community being built to support a collaborative approach to fisheries management
* FAO: Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. [ "State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2006."] Retrieved 29 May 2008
* [ Social & Economic Benefits of Fisheries Management] from "NOAA Socioeconomics" website initiative
* [ The World Summit On Salmon]

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