Engage the virtuous spiral in fisheries

Acting with imperfect information, fisheries policymakers and managers must try to balance tradeoffs of fisheries short-term productivity against long-term environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Alternatively, both environmental and fisheries policy strategies could engage a virtuous circle by bridging the historical divide between fisheries and nature agencies.

Hence, a long-term win-win situation could better emerge, and by propagating the change induced by the reduction of fishing impacts to other supportive marine ecosystem components (habitats, non-commercial marine species), the fisheries management could contribute to secure future fishing opportunities for the fishing fleets along with fulfilling the market demand for seafood and ensuring coherence in meeting national environmental targets.

Building on previous scientific works, we contributed to making this point more apparent in:

Bastardie, F., & Brown, E. J. (2021). Reverse the declining course: A risk assessment for marine and fisheries policy strategies in Europe from current knowledge synthesis. Marine Policy, 126, [104409]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2021.104409

You are welcome to ask for a free copy of the published article to fba at aqua.dtu.dk or find a preprint version here:

Testing to what extent EU fisheries can cope with a ban of discarding fish in presence of choke species

The ban on discarding unwanted fish overboard when fishing, which was decided during the last 2013 EU Common Fisheries Policy reform, requires that everything retained in a commercial fishing gear is recorded and counted against fish quotas when some exist like in Northern European waters. It is, however, difficult to reduce catches of a single fish species when a variety of fish is generally caught together. This creates a risk for early closures of fisheries when the quota of one fish (the “choke species”) is exhausted before the others. To cope with this and avoid an unnecessary low rate of quota utilization, fishermen can try to lease extra quotas, or modify their catches, either by switching to more selective fishing gear types or through changes in when, where and how to fish, by trying to avoid areas where there is a fair amount of possible choke species, and displace the fishery as soon as a large catch of choke species is encountered. This ability to displace will depend on the skills and choices of the skipper but also on how the fish stocks distribute in space and time (patchily vs. evenly distributed). We are developing here a platform to test such interlinked effects in a clear and detailed manner by accounting for varying skipper’s decision-making, such as for example the one described in the adjacent decision tree.