- 6.14 > Different fishing techniques have various impacts on fish stocks and the marine environment.
Restricting fishing effort
In addition to the use of quotas, fishing can also be regulated by restricting the fishing effort. For example, fishing capacity can be limited by capping the number of licences available for allocation to fishing vessels or by restricting the engine power or size of vessels. It is also possible to limit the duration of fishing, e.g. by capping the number of days that may be spent at sea.
Effort-based regulation offers fishermen a number of loopholes, however. Fishermen frequently circumvent the restrictions on fishing time by increasing their fishing capacity. They can thus harvest the same quantity of fish in a reduced number of days spent at sea. A well-known example is the Pacific halibut fishery, where at the end of the 1980s, fishing was only permitted for three days a year. In practice, during this very short fishing season, a vast fishing fleet was deployed and caught the same quantity of fish as had previously been harvested in an entire year.
Moreover, an effort-based regime requires constant adaptation to bring it into line with the latest technological developments. Increasingly efficient technology to locate fish shoals, for example, makes it possible to track and harvest a given quantity of fish in ever shorter time periods. Increasingly detailed legal provisions are also required, ultimately leading to overregulation and generating high economic costs.
Nonetheless, experts agree that some regulation of fishing technology and practices is essential. For example, fishing methods that inflict particularly severe damage on the marine ecosystem are banned in many regions; these methods include blast fishing, which uses explosives and indiscriminately kills all the fish within a given area.
- 6.15 > Blast fishing – the practice of using explosives to kill fish – is banned in most places around the world as it kills a large number of marine organisms. In areas where there is very little control of fishing practices by the authorities, some fishermen continue to deploy this devastating technique, as seen here in Brazil.
Allocating fishing rights
Territorial use rights in fisheries (TURF) are an alternative to centralized approaches to fisheries management. Here, individual users or specific user groups, such as cooperatives, are allocated a long-term and exclusive right to fish a geographically limited area of the sea. Catches and fishing effort are decided upon by the individual fishermen or user groups.
This self-organization by the private sector can also help to achieve a substantial reduction in government expenditure on regulation and control. Users also have a vested interest in ensuring that they do not overexploit the stocks, as this is necessary to safeguard their own incomes in the long term. However, a use right for a stock of fish or other living resource in the ocean is exclusive only for non-migratory species such as crustacea and molluscs.
One example of successful management by means of territorial use rights is the artisanal coastal fishery in Chile, which mainly harvests bottom-living species, particularly sea urchins and oysters. Fishermen here have shown that they have a vested interest in pursuing sustainable fishing once they have the prospect of obtaining secure revenues from these fishing practices over the long term.