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Keywords:

  • Catch rights;
  • ecological impacts of fishing;
  • ecosystem approach to fisheries;
  • ecosystem-based fisheries management;
  • Individual Transferrable Quotas

Abstract

While there has been a growing concern for the adverse ecological impacts of fishing, progress on incorporating these into operational fisheries management has been slow. Many fisheries management organizations have addressed the problem of overharvesting and over-capitalization first. In this domain, the question of access regulation has gained growing recognition as a key dimension of fisheries sustainability, leading to recommendation and progressive implementation of rights-based systems, in particular Individual Transferrable Quotas (ITQs). While adjustments in fishing capacity resulting from the implementation of these systems may entail a reduction in some unwanted ecosystem impacts of fishing, it is also recognized that they will not be sufficient to achieve the ecological outcomes increasingly demanded by the global community. There is thus a need to examine the possibilities for a common management framework for dealing with both over-capitalization of fisheries and adverse ecological effects of fishing. In this paper, we examine the feasibility of incorporating greater ecosystem goods and services into ITQ policy instruments initially designed with a narrow focus on commercial target species. We consider the advantages and limitations of alternative approaches in this respect and identify some of the practical issues associated with the different alternatives, in particular the underpinning knowledge requirements. We argue that given the need for increasingly streamlined management processes, further investigation into practical ways forward in this domain is crucial if management of fisheries is to achieve economic efficiency while fully encompassing the ecologically sustainable development objectives of ecosystem-based fisheries management.