The Basics of Fisheries Management

Fisheries management is a complex undertaking, encompassing numerous disciplines and functions. It requires deep knowledge about the marine environment and how fisheries impact on its ecosystem. Furthermore, one must possess the capacity to work effectively within teams as well as communicate clearly with those who use and benefit from these resources.

Fisheries management primarily strives to ensure the long-term sustainability of fish stocks, guaranteeing them availability for consumers and fishermen’s livelihoods. Furthermore, managers should aim to maximize economic benefits from using marine resources while minimizing any negative effects on ecosystems or communities.

First, the manager must define a set of objectives for their fishery. These should be based on the most up-to-date scientific information and implemented through various measures referred to as management measures. These may include technical controls, input (effort) and output controls, access rights designed around these input and output restrictions, as well as closed areas or seasons.

Second, managers must establish biological reference points for a fishery. These should be defined as levels with low potential of causing serious harm to stocks and serve as management objectives in the fishery.

Third, the manager must establish catch levels that support meeting objectives. These are usually predetermined amounts of fish (measured in metric tons) that a fishery may take during each fishing season.

Fourth, the manager must identify a range of management measures suitable for achieving his objectives. These may include restrictions on fishing effort, caps on total catch in one period, regulations regarding gear type or design, as well as closures of fishing grounds (both seasonal and year-round).

Fifth, the manager must establish access rights that are appropriate to achieve the objectives. These can take the form of quotas or shares assigned to fishers which they are free to buy, sell, trade and allocate as desired; or other forms of permission.

Sixth, the manager must determine an array of environmental protection measures suitable for meeting their objectives. These may include water quality improvement, pollution control measures and habitat conservation strategies.

Seventh, the manager must devise an efficient strategy to monitor the state and progress of a fishery. This involves taking an organized approach to data collection, analysis and interpretation in order to inform decisions made.

Eighth, the manager must identify and resolve potential conflicts of interest that could arise between different groups or organisations in a fishery. These can be challenging to avoid, so these should be addressed proactively before they become issues.

The ultimate aim of fisheries management must be the sustainable use of its resources (Code of Conduct, Paragraph 7.2.1). To achieve this objective, managers should take a proactive approach and strive to maximize the advantages that can be derived from available resources.

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