Overfishing
Overview
 
Overfishing occurs when fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

 activities reduce fish stock
Fish stock
Fish stocks are subpopulations of a particular species of fish, for which intrinsic parameters are the only significant factors in determining population dynamics, while extrinsic factors are considered to be insignificant.-The stock concept:All species have geographic limits to their...

s below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans.

Ultimately overfishing can lead to resource depletion
Resource depletion
Resource depletion is an economic term referring to the exhaustion of raw materials within a region. Resources are commonly divided between renewable resources and non-renewable resources...

 in cases of subsidised fishing, low biological growth rates and critical low biomass
Biomass (ecology)
Biomass, in ecology, is the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time. Biomass can refer to species biomass, which is the mass of one or more species, or to community biomass, which is the mass of all species in the community. It can include microorganisms,...

 levels (e.g. by critical depensation growth properties). For example, overfishing of sharks has led to the upset of entire marine ecosystems.

The ability of a fishery
Fishery
Generally, a fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish which is determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is typically defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats,...

 to recover after overfishing depends on whether the ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

 conditions are suitable for the recovery.
Encyclopedia
Overfishing occurs when fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

 activities reduce fish stock
Fish stock
Fish stocks are subpopulations of a particular species of fish, for which intrinsic parameters are the only significant factors in determining population dynamics, while extrinsic factors are considered to be insignificant.-The stock concept:All species have geographic limits to their...

s below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans.

Ultimately overfishing can lead to resource depletion
Resource depletion
Resource depletion is an economic term referring to the exhaustion of raw materials within a region. Resources are commonly divided between renewable resources and non-renewable resources...

 in cases of subsidised fishing, low biological growth rates and critical low biomass
Biomass (ecology)
Biomass, in ecology, is the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time. Biomass can refer to species biomass, which is the mass of one or more species, or to community biomass, which is the mass of all species in the community. It can include microorganisms,...

 levels (e.g. by critical depensation growth properties). For example, overfishing of sharks has led to the upset of entire marine ecosystems.

The ability of a fishery
Fishery
Generally, a fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish which is determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is typically defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats,...

 to recover after overfishing depends on whether the ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

 conditions are suitable for the recovery. Dramatic changes in species composition can result in an ecosystem shift, where other equilibrium energy flows involve species compositions other than those that had been present before. For example, once trout have been overfished, carp might take over in a way that makes it impossible for the trout to re-establish a breeding population.

Types

There are three recognized types of overfishing: growth overfishing, recruit overfishing and ecosystem overfishing.
  • Growth overfishing – is when fish are harvested at an average size that is smaller than the size that would produce the maximum yield
    Maximum sustainable yield
    In population ecology and economics, maximum sustainable yield or MSY is, theoretically, the largest yield that can be taken from a species' stock over an indefinite period...

     per recruit. This makes the total yield less than it would be if the fish were allowed to grow to a reasonable size. It can be countered by reducing fishing mortality to lower levels and increasing the average size of the fish harvested to a length that will allow maximum yield per recruit.

  • Recruit overfishing – is when the mature adult (spawning biomass
    Biomass (ecology)
    Biomass, in ecology, is the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time. Biomass can refer to species biomass, which is the mass of one or more species, or to community biomass, which is the mass of all species in the community. It can include microorganisms,...

    ) population is depleted to a level where it no longer has the reproductive capacity to replenish itself. There are not enough adults to produce offspring. Increasing the spawning stock biomass to a target level is the approach taken by managers to restore an overfished population to sustainable levels. This is generally accomplished by placing moratoriums, quotas
    Individual fishing quota
    Individual fishing quotas also known as "individual transferable quotas" are one kind of catch share, a means by which many governments regulate fishing. The regulator sets a species-specific total allowable catch , typically by weight and for a given time period. A dedicated portion of the TAC,...

     and minimum size
    Minimum landing size
    The minimum landing size is the smallest length at which it is legal to keep or sell a fish. What the MLS is depends on the species of fish. Sizes also vary around the world, as they are legal definitions which are defined by the local regulatory authority...

     limits on a fish population.

  • Ecosystem overfishing – is when the balance of the ecosystem
    Ecosystem
    An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

     is altered due to overfishing. Declines in the abundances of large predatory species declines and in turn small forage type
    Forage fish
    Forage fish, also called prey fish or bait fish, are small fish which are preyed on by larger predators for food. Predators include other larger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Typical ocean forage fish feed near the base of the food chain on plankton, often by filter feeding...

     species increase in abundance, causing a shift in the balance of the ecosystem towards smaller species of fish.

Instances

Examples of the outcomes from overfishing exist in areas such as the North Sea
Fishing in the North Sea
Fishing in the North Sea is concentrated in the southern part of the coastal waters. The main method of fishing is trawling.Annual catches grew each year until the 1980s, when a high point of more than 3 million metric tons was reached...

 of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, the Grand Banks of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and the East China Sea
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

 of Asia. In these locations, overfishing has not only proved disastrous to fish stocks but also to the fishing communities relying on the harvest. Like other extractive industries
Primary sector of industry
The sector of an economy making direct use of natural resources. This includes agriculture, forestry and fishing, mining, and extraction of oil and gas. This is contrasted with the secondary sector, producing manufactures and other processed goods, and the tertiary sector, producing services...

 such as forestry and hunting, fishery is susceptible to economic interaction between ownership or stewardship and sustainability, otherwise known as the tragedy of the commons
Tragedy of the commons
The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this...

.
  • The Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

    vian coastal anchovy
    Peruvian anchoveta
    The Peruvian anchoveta is a fish of the anchovy family, Engraulidae.Anchoveta are pelagic fish in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, and are regularly caught on the coasts of Peru, and Chile. They live for up to 4 years, reaching 20 cm, with recruitment occurring after only about 6 months when...

     fisheries crashed in the 1970s after overfishing and an El Niño season largely depleted anchovies from its waters. Anchovies were a major natural resource in Peru; indeed, 1971 alone yielded 10.2 million metric tons of anchovies. However, the following five years saw the Peruvian fleet's catch amount to only about 4 million tons. This was a major loss to Peru's economy.

  • The collapse of the cod
    Cod
    Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of...

     fishery off Newfoundland, and the 1992 decision by Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

     to impose an indefinite moratorium
    Moratorium (law)
    A moratorium is a delay or suspension of an activity or a law. In a legal context, it may refer to the temporary suspension of a law to allow a legal challenge to be carried out....

     on the Grand Banks, is a dramatic example of the consequences of overfishing.

  • The sole fisheries in the Irish Sea
    Irish Sea
    The Irish Sea separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. It is connected to the Celtic Sea in the south by St George's Channel, and to the Atlantic Ocean in the north by the North Channel. Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man...

    , the west English Channel
    English Channel
    The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

    , and other locations have become overfished to the point of virtual collapse, according to the UK government's official Biodiversity Action Plan
    Biodiversity Action Plan
    A Biodiversity Action Plan is an internationally recognized program addressing threatened species and habitats and is designed to protect and restore biological systems. The original impetus for these plans derives from the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity...

    . The United Kingdom has created elements within this plan to attempt to restore this fishery, but the expanding global human population
    Overpopulation
    Overpopulation is a condition where an organism's numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth...

     and the expanding demand for fish has reached a point where demand for food threatens the stability of these fisheries, if not the species' survival.

  • Many deep sea fish
    Deep sea fish
    Deep sea fish is a term for any fish that lives below the photic zone of the ocean. The lanternfish is, by far, the most common deep sea fish. Other deep sea fish include the flashlight fish, cookiecutter shark, bristlemouths, anglerfish, and viperfish....

     are at risk, such as orange roughy
    Orange roughy
    The orange roughy, red roughy, or deep sea perch, Hoplostethus atlanticus, is a relatively large deep-sea fish belonging to the slimehead family . The Marine Conservation Society has categorized orange roughy as vulnerable to exploitation...

    , Patagonian toothfish
    Patagonian toothfish
    The Patagonian toothfish, Dissostichus eleginoides , is a fish found in the cold, temperate waters of the southern Atlantic, southern Pacific, Indian, and Southern Oceans on seamounts and continental shelves around most sub-Antarctic islands.A close relative, the Antarctic toothfish , is found...

     and sablefish
    Sablefish
    The sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, is one of two members of the fish family Anoplopomatidae and the only species in the Anoplopoma genus...

    . The deep sea is almost completely dark, near freezing and has little food. Deep sea fish grow slowly because of limited food, have slow metabolisms, low reproductive rates, and many don't reach breeding maturity for 30 to 40 years. A fillet of orange roughy at the store is probably at least 50 years old. Most deep sea fish are in international waters, where there are no legal protections. Most of these fish are caught by deep trawlers
    Bottom trawling
    Bottom trawling is trawling along the sea floor. It is also often referred to as "dragging".The scientific community divides bottom trawling into benthic trawling and demersal trawling...

     near seamount
    Seamount
    A seamount is a mountain rising from the ocean seafloor that does not reach to the water's surface , and thus is not an island. These are typically formed from extinct volcanoes, that rise abruptly and are usually found rising from a seafloor of depth. They are defined by oceanographers as...

    s, where they congregate because of food. Flash freezing
    Flash freezing
    Flash freezing refers to the process in various industries whereby objects are quickly frozen by subjecting them to cryogenic temperatures....

     allows the trawlers to work for days at a time, and modern fishfinder
    Fishfinder
    A fishfinder is an instrument used to locate fish underwater by detecting reflected pulses of sound energy, as in SONAR. A modern fishfinder displays measurements of reflected sound on a graphical display, allowing an operator to interpret information to locate schools of fish, underwater debris,...

    s target the fish with ease.

  • Blue walleye
    Blue walleye
    The blue walleye , also called the blue pike, was a subspecies of the walleye that went extinct in the Great Lakes in the 1980s...

     went extinct in the Great Lakes in the 1980s. Until the middle of the 20th century, it was a commercially valuable fish, with about a half million tonnes being landed during the period from about 1880 to the late 1950s, when the populations collapsed, apparently through a combination of overfishing, anthropogenic eutrophication
    Eutrophication
    Eutrophication or more precisely hypertrophication, is the movement of a body of water′s trophic status in the direction of increasing plant biomass, by the addition of artificial or natural substances, such as nitrates and phosphates, through fertilizers or sewage, to an aquatic system...

    , and competition with the introduced rainbow smelt
    Rainbow smelt
    The rainbow smelt, Osmerus mordax, is an anadromous species of fish of the family Osmeridae. The distribution of Osmerus mordax is circumpolar. The rainbow smelt was introduced to the Great Lakes, and from there has made its way to various other places. Walleye, trout, and other larger fish prey on...

    .

Consequences

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
Fisheries management
Fisheries management draws on fisheries science in order to find ways to protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management...

. The report, produced jointly by the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

 (FAO), asserts that half the world's fishing fleet
Fishing fleet
A fishing fleet is an aggregate of commercial fishing vessels. The term may be used of all vessels operating out of a particular port, all vessels engaged in a particular type of fishing , or all fishing vessels of a country or region.Although fishing vessels are not formally organized as if they...

 could be scrapped with no change in catch. In addition, the biomass
Biomass (ecology)
Biomass, in ecology, is the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time. Biomass can refer to species biomass, which is the mass of one or more species, or to community biomass, which is the mass of all species in the community. It can include microorganisms,...

 of global fish stock
Fish stock
Fish stocks are subpopulations of a particular species of fish, for which intrinsic parameters are the only significant factors in determining population dynamics, while extrinsic factors are considered to be insignificant.-The stock concept:All species have geographic limits to their...

s 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. Increased incidence of schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by several species of trematodes , a parasitic worm of the genus Schistosoma. Snails often act as an intermediary agent for the infectious diseases until a new human host is found...

 in Africa has been linked to declines of fish species that eat the snails carrying the disease-causing parasites. Massive growth of jellyfish
Jellyfish
Jellyfish are free-swimming members of the phylum Cnidaria. Medusa is another word for jellyfish, and refers to any free-swimming jellyfish stages in the phylum Cnidaria...

 populations threaten fish stocks, as they compete with fish for food, eat fish eggs, and poison or swarm fish, and can survive in oxygen depleted environments where fish cannot; they wreak massive havoc on commercial fisheries. Overfishing eliminates a major jellyfish competitor and predator exacerbating the jellyfish population explosion.

Acceptable levels

The notion of overfishing hinges on what is meant by an acceptable level of fishing.
More precise biological
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

 and bioeconomic
Bioeconomics
Bioeconomics is closely related to the early development of theories in fisheries economics, initially in the mid 1950s by Canadian economists Scott Gordon and Anthony Scott...

 terms define acceptable level as follows:
  • Biological overfishing occurs when fishing mortality
    Mortality rate
    Mortality rate is a measure of the number of deaths in a population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit time...

     has reached a level where the stock biomass
    Biomass (ecology)
    Biomass, in ecology, is the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time. Biomass can refer to species biomass, which is the mass of one or more species, or to community biomass, which is the mass of all species in the community. It can include microorganisms,...

     has negative marginal growth
    Marginalism
    Marginalism refers to the use of marginal concepts in economic theory. Marginalism is associated with arguments concerning changes in the quantity used of a good or service, as opposed to some notion of the over-all significance of that class of good or service, or of some total quantity...

     (slowing down biomass growth), as indicated by the red area in the figure. (Fish are being taken out of the water so quickly that the replenishment of stock by breeding slows down. If the replenishment continues to slow down for long enough, replenishment will go into reverse and the population will decrease.)

  • Economic or bioeconomic overfishing additionally considers the cost of fishing when determining acceptable catches. Under this framework a fishery is considered to be overfished when catches exceed maximum economic yield where resource rent
    Resource rent
    In economics, rent is a surplus value after all costs and normal returns have been accounted for, i.e. the difference between the price at which an output from a resource can be sold and its respective extraction and production costs, including normal return...

     is at its maximum. Fish are being removed from the fishery so quickly that the profitability of the fishery is sub-optimal. A more dynamic definition of economic overfishing also considers the present value
    Present value
    Present value, also known as present discounted value, is the value on a given date of a future payment or series of future payments, discounted to reflect the time value of money and other factors such as investment risk...

     of the fishery using a relevant discount rate
    Discount rate
    The discount rate can mean*an interest rate a central bank charges depository institutions that borrow reserves from it, for example for the use of the Federal Reserve's discount window....

     to maximise the flow of resource rent over all future catches.

Harvest control rule

A current model for predicting acceptable levels is the Harvest Control Rule (HCR), which is a variable over which management has some direct control as a function of some indicator of stock status. Constant catch and constant fishing mortality are two types of simple harvest control rules.

Input and output orientations

Fishing capacity can also be defined following an input or an output orientation.
  • An input-oriented fishing capacity is defined as the maximum available capital stock in a fishery that is fully utilized at the maximum technical efficiency in a given time period, given resource and market conditions.

  • An output-oriented fishing capacity is defined as the maximum catch a vessel (fleet) can produce if inputs are fully utilized given the biomass, the fixed inputs, the age structure of the fish stock, and the present stage of technology.


Technical efficiency of each vessel of the fleet is assumed necessary to attain this maximum catch. The degree of capacity utilization
Capacity utilization
Capacity utilization is a concept in economics and managerial accounting which refers to the extent to which an enterprise or a nation actually uses its installed productive capacity...

 results from the comparison of the actual level of output (input) and the capacity output (input) of a vessel or a fleet.

Mitigation

With present and forecast levels of the world population it is not possible to solve the overfishing issue; however, there are mitigation measures that can save selected fisheries and forestall the collapse of others.

In order to meet the problems of overfishing, a precautionary approach and Harvest Control Rule (HCR) management principles have been introduced in the main fisheries around the world. The Traffic Light colour convention introduces sets of rules based on predefined critical values, which could be adjusted as more information is gained.

The "United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea , also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea , which took place from 1973 through 1982...

" treaty deals with aspects of overfishing in articles 61, 62, and 65.
  • Article 61 requires all coastal states to ensure that the maintenance of living resources in their exclusive economic zone
    Exclusive Economic Zone
    Under the law of the sea, an exclusive economic zone is a seazone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including production of energy from water and wind. It stretches from the seaward edge of the state's territorial sea out to 200 nautical...

    s is not endangered by over-exploitation. The same article addresses the maintenance or restoration of populations of species above levels at which their reproduction may become seriously threatened.

  • Article 62 provides that coastal states: "shall promote the objective of optimum utilization of the living resources in the exclusive economic zone without prejudice to Article 61"
  • Article 65 provides generally for the rights of, inter alia, coastal states to prohibit, limit, or regulate the exploitation of marine mammals.


Overfishing can be viewed as a case of the tragedy of the commons
Tragedy of the commons
The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this...

; in that sense, solutions would promote property rights, such as privatization
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 and fish farming
Fish farming
Fish farming is the principal form of aquaculture, while other methods may fall under mariculture. Fish farming involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures, usually for food. A facility that releases young fish into the wild for recreational fishing or to supplement a species'...

. Daniel K. Benjamin, in Fisheries are Classic Example of the "Tragedy of the Commons", cites research by Grafton, Squires, and Fox to support the idea that privatization can solve the overfishing problem:
According to recent research on the British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 halibut
Halibut
Halibut is a flatfish, genus Hippoglossus, from the family of the right-eye flounders . Other flatfish are also called halibut. The name is derived from haly and butt , for its popularity on Catholic holy days...

 fishery, where the commons has been at least partly privatized, substantial ecological and economic benefits have resulted. There is less damage to fish stocks, the fishing is safer, and fewer resources are needed to achieve a given harvest.


Another possible solution, at least for some areas, is fishing quotas
Individual fishing quota
Individual fishing quotas also known as "individual transferable quotas" are one kind of catch share, a means by which many governments regulate fishing. The regulator sets a species-specific total allowable catch , typically by weight and for a given time period. A dedicated portion of the TAC,...

, so fishermen can only legally take a certain amount of fish. A more radical possibility is declaring certain areas of the sea "no-go zones" and make fishing there strictly illegal, so the fish in that area have time to recover and repopulate.

Controlling consumer behavior and demand is a key in mitigating action. Worldwide a number of initiatives emerged to provide consumers with information regarding the conservation status of the seafood available to them. The Guide to Good Fish Guides lists a number of these.

Fishing quotas

A model of the interaction between fish and fishers showed that when an area is closed to fishers, but there are no catch regulations such as individual transferable quotas, fish catches are temporarily increased but overall fish biomass
Biomass (ecology)
Biomass, in ecology, is the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time. Biomass can refer to species biomass, which is the mass of one or more species, or to community biomass, which is the mass of all species in the community. It can include microorganisms,...

 is reduced, resulting in the opposite outcome than the one desired for fisheries. Thus, a displacement of the fleet from one locality to another will generally have little effect if the same quota is taken. As a result, management measures
Fisheries management
Fisheries management draws on fisheries science in order to find ways to protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management...

 such as temporary closures or establishing a Marine Protected Area
Marine Protected Area
Marine Protected Areas, like any protected area, are regions in which human activity has been placed under some restrictions in the interest of conserving the natural environment, it's surrounding waters and the occupant ecosystems, and any cultural or historical resources that may require...

 of fishing areas are ineffective when not combined with individual fishing quotas. An inherent problem with quotas is that fish populations vary from year to year. A study has found that fish populations rise dramatically after stormy years due to more nutrients reaching the surface and therefore greater primary production. To fish sustainably quotas need to be changed each year to take account of the population of fish but this is difficult to do.

Individual transferable quotas

Individual transferable quota
Individual fishing quota
Individual fishing quotas also known as "individual transferable quotas" are one kind of catch share, a means by which many governments regulate fishing. The regulator sets a species-specific total allowable catch , typically by weight and for a given time period. A dedicated portion of the TAC,...

s (ITQs) are fishery rationalization instruments defined under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as limited access permits to harvest quantities of fish. Fisheries scientists
Fisheries science
Fisheries science is the academic discipline of managing and understanding fisheries. It is a multidisciplinary science, which draws on the disciplines of oceanography, marine biology, marine conservation, ecology, population dynamics, economics and management to attempt to provide an integrated...

 decide the optimal amount of fish (total allowable catch) to be harvested in a certain fishery, taking into account carrying capacity, regeneration rates and future values. Under ITQs, members of a fishery
Fishery
Generally, a fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish which is determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is typically defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats,...

 are granted rights to a percentage of the total allowable catch which can be harvested each year. These quotas can be fished, bought, sold, or leased allowing for the least cost vessels to be used. ITQs are used in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Only three ITQ programs have been implemented in the United States due to a moratorium
Moratorium (law)
A moratorium is a delay or suspension of an activity or a law. In a legal context, it may refer to the temporary suspension of a law to allow a legal challenge to be carried out....

 supported by Ted Stevens
Ted Stevens
Theodore Fulton "Ted" Stevens, Sr. was a United States Senator from Alaska, serving from December 24, 1968, until January 3, 2009, and thus the longest-serving Republican senator in history...

.

In 2008 a large scale study of fisheries that used ITQ's and ones that didn't provided strong evidence that ITQ's can help to prevent collapses and restore fisheries that appear to be in decline.

Benefits of underfishing

Deliberately underfishing to increase long term fish stocks has been proposed as a way fisherman can maximize their yields in the long run.

Resistance from fishermen


There is always disagreement between fishermen and government scientists... Imagine an overfished area of the sea in the shape of a hockey field with nets at either end. The few fish left therein would gather around the goals because fish like structured habitats. Scientists would survey the entire field, make lots of unsuccessful hauls, and conclude that it contains few fish. The fishermen would make a beeline to the goals, catch the fish around them, and say the scientists do not know what they are talking about. The subjective impression the fishermen get is always that there's lots of fish - because they only go to places that still have them... fisheries scientists survey and compare entire areas, not only the productive fishing spots. – Fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly is a French-born marine biologist, well-known for his work in studying human impacts on global fisheries. He is a professor and the project leader of the Sea Around Us Project at the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. He also served as Director of the Fisheries...



  • The fishing capacity problem is not only related to the conservation of fish stock
    Fish stock
    Fish stocks are subpopulations of a particular species of fish, for which intrinsic parameters are the only significant factors in determining population dynamics, while extrinsic factors are considered to be insignificant.-The stock concept:All species have geographic limits to their...

    s but also to the sustainability
    Sustainability
    Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

     of fishing activity. Causes of the fishing problem can be found in property rights regime of fishing resources. Overexploitation and rent dissipation of fishermen arise in open-access fisheries
    Fishery
    Generally, a fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish which is determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is typically defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats,...

     as was shown in Gordon.

  • In open-access resources like fish stocks, in the absence of a system like individual transferable quotas, the impossibility of excluding others provokes the fishermen who want to increase catch to do so effectively by taking someone else' share, intensifying competition. This tragedy of the commons
    Tragedy of the commons
    The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this...

     provokes a capitalization process that leads them to increase their costs until they are equal to their revenue, dissipating their rent completely.

Removal of subsidies

Several scientists have called for an end to subsidies paid to deep sea fisheries.
In international waters beyond the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zones of coastal countries, many fisheries are unregulated, and fishing fleet
Fishing fleet
A fishing fleet is an aggregate of commercial fishing vessels. The term may be used of all vessels operating out of a particular port, all vessels engaged in a particular type of fishing , or all fishing vessels of a country or region.Although fishing vessels are not formally organized as if they...

s plunder the depths with state-of-the-art technology. In a few hours, massive nets weighing up to 15 tons, dragged along the bottom by deep-water trawlers
Bottom trawling
Bottom trawling is trawling along the sea floor. It is also often referred to as "dragging".The scientific community divides bottom trawling into benthic trawling and demersal trawling...

, can destroy deep-sea corals and sponge beds that have taken centuries or millennia to grow. The trawlers can target orange roughy
Orange roughy
The orange roughy, red roughy, or deep sea perch, Hoplostethus atlanticus, is a relatively large deep-sea fish belonging to the slimehead family . The Marine Conservation Society has categorized orange roughy as vulnerable to exploitation...

, grenadier
Rattail
Grenadiers or rattails are generally large, brown to black gadiform marine fish of the family Macrouridae...

s or sharks. These fish are usually long-lived and late maturing, and their populations take decades, even centuries to recover.

Fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly is a French-born marine biologist, well-known for his work in studying human impacts on global fisheries. He is a professor and the project leader of the Sea Around Us Project at the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. He also served as Director of the Fisheries...

 and economist Ussif Rashid Sumaila
Ussif Rashid Sumaila
Ussif Rashid Sumaila is an associate professor of economics at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and the Director of the Fisheries Centre and Fisheries Economics Research Unit at the UBC Fisheries Centre...

 have examined subsidies paid to bottom trawl fleets around the world. They found that $152 million US per year are paid to deep-sea fisheries. Without these subsidies, global deep-sea fisheries would operate at a loss of $50 million a year. A great deal of the subsidies paid to deep-sea trawlers is to subsidize the large amount of fuel required to travel beyond the 200 mile limit and drag weighted nets.
  • "There is surely a better way for governments to spend money than by paying subsidies to a fleet that burns 1.1 billion litres of fuel annually to maintain paltry catches of old growth fish from highly vulnerable stocks, while destroying their habitat in the process" – Pauly.

  • "Eliminating global subsidies would render these fleets economically unviable and would relieve tremendous pressure on over-fishing and vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems" – Sumaila.


Consumer awareness

Sustainable seafood is a movement that has gained momentum as more people become aware about overfishing and environmentally destructive fishing methods
Environmental effects of fishing
The environmental impact of fishing can be divided into issues that involve the availability of fish to be caught, such as overfishing, sustainable fisheries, and fisheries management; and issues that involve the impact of fishing on other elements of the environment, such as by-catch.These...

. Sustainable seafood is seafood
Seafood
Seafood is any form of marine life regarded as food by humans. Seafoods include fish, molluscs , crustaceans , echinoderms . Edible sea plants, such as some seaweeds and microalgae, are also seafood, and are widely eaten around the world, especially in Asia...

 from either fished or farmed sources that can maintain or increase production in the future without jeopardizing the ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s from which it was acquired. In general, slow-growing fish that reproduce late in life, such as orange roughy, are vulnerable to overfishing. Seafood species that grow quickly and breed young, such as anchovies and sardines, are much more resistant to overfishing. Several organizations, including the Marine Stewardship Council
Marine Stewardship Council
The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent non-profit organization with an ecolabel and fishery certification programme. Fisheries that are assessed and meet the standard can use the MSC blue ecolabel. The MSC mission is to 'reward sustainable fishing practices’...

 (MSC), and Friend of the Sea
Friend of the Sea
Friend of the Sea is a project for the certification and promotion of seafood from sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture. It is the only certification scheme which, with the same logo, certifies both wild and farmed seafood. Friend of the Sea started as a project of the Earth Island...

, certify seafood fisheries as sustainable.

The Marine Stewardship Council
Marine Stewardship Council
The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent non-profit organization with an ecolabel and fishery certification programme. Fisheries that are assessed and meet the standard can use the MSC blue ecolabel. The MSC mission is to 'reward sustainable fishing practices’...

 (MSC) has developed an environmental standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries
Fishery
Generally, a fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish which is determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is typically defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats,...

. Environmentally responsible fisheries management
Fisheries management
Fisheries management draws on fisheries science in order to find ways to protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management...

 and practices are rewarded with the use of its blue product ecolabel
Ecolabel
Ecolabels and Green Stickers are labelling systems for food and consumer products. Ecolabels are often voluntary, but Green Stickers are mandated by law in North America for major appliances and automobiles. They are a form of sustainability measurement directed at consumers, intended to make it...

. Consumers concerned about overfishing and its consequences are increasingly able to choose seafood products which have been independently assessed against the MSC's environmental standard and labelled. This enables consumers to play a part in reversing the decline of fish stock
Fish stock
Fish stocks are subpopulations of a particular species of fish, for which intrinsic parameters are the only significant factors in determining population dynamics, while extrinsic factors are considered to be insignificant.-The stock concept:All species have geographic limits to their...

s. As of April 2010, 69 fisheries
Fishery
Generally, a fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish which is determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is typically defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats,...

 around the world have been independently assessed and certified as meeting the MSC standard. Their where to buy page lists the currently available certified seafood - as of April 2010 nearly 4,000 MSC-labelled products are available in over 60 countries around the world. Fish & Kids is an MSC project to teach schoolchildren about marine environmental issues, including overfishing.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located on the former site of a sardine cannery on Cannery Row of the Pacific Ocean shoreline in Monterey, California. It has an annual attendance of 1.8 million visitors. It holds thousands of plants and animals, representing 623 separate named species on display...

's Seafood Watch
Seafood Watch
Seafood Watch is one of the best known sustainable seafood advisory lists, and has influenced similar programs around the world. It is a program designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources...

 Program, although not an official certifying body like the MSC, also provides guidance on the sustainability of certain fish species: Some seafood restaurants have begun to offer more sustainable seafood options. The Seafood Choices Alliance is an organization whose members include chefs that serve sustainable seafood at their establishments. In the US, the Sustainable Fisheries Act defines sustainable practices through national standards. Although there is no official certifying body like the MSC
Marine Stewardship Council
The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent non-profit organization with an ecolabel and fishery certification programme. Fisheries that are assessed and meet the standard can use the MSC blue ecolabel. The MSC mission is to 'reward sustainable fishing practices’...

, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , pronounced , like "noah", is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere...

 has created FishWatch to help guide concerned consumers to sustainable seafood choices. See also a guide to good fish guides.

Fish farming

In 2009, researchers in Australia managed for the first time to coax southern bluefin tuna
Southern bluefin tuna
The southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii, is a tuna of the family Scombridae found in open southern hemisphere waters of all the world's oceans mainly between 30°S and 50°S, to nearly 60°S...

 to breed in landlocked tanks, opening up the possibility of using fish farming
Fish farming
Fish farming is the principal form of aquaculture, while other methods may fall under mariculture. Fish farming involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures, usually for food. A facility that releases young fish into the wild for recreational fishing or to supplement a species'...

 as a way to save the species from the problems of overfishing in the wild.

Addendum

Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly is a French-born marine biologist, well-known for his work in studying human impacts on global fisheries. He is a professor and the project leader of the Sea Around Us Project at the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. He also served as Director of the Fisheries...

, a fisheries scientist well known for pioneering work on the human impacts on global fisheries, comments:


"It is almost as though we use our military to fight the animals in the ocean. We are gradually winning this war to exterminate them. And to see this destruction happen, for nothing really – for no reason – that is a bit frustrating. Strangely enough, these effects are all reversible, all the animals that have disappeared would reappear, all the animals that were small would grow, all the relationships that you can't see any more would re-establish themselves, and the system would re-emerge. So that's one thing to be optimistic about. The oceans, much more so than the land, are reversible..."

See also

  • Biodiversity
    Biodiversity
    Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

  • Bottom trawling
    Bottom trawling
    Bottom trawling is trawling along the sea floor. It is also often referred to as "dragging".The scientific community divides bottom trawling into benthic trawling and demersal trawling...

  • Catch and release
    Catch and release
    Catch and release is a practice within recreational fishing intended as a technique of conservation. After capture, the fish are unhooked and returned to the water before experiencing serious exhaustion or injury...

  • Environmental effects of fishing
    Environmental effects of fishing
    The environmental impact of fishing can be divided into issues that involve the availability of fish to be caught, such as overfishing, sustainable fisheries, and fisheries management; and issues that involve the impact of fishing on other elements of the environment, such as by-catch.These...

  • Population dynamics of fisheries
    Population dynamics of fisheries
    A fishery is an area with an associated fish or aquatic population which is harvested for its commercial or recreational value. Fisheries can be wild or farmed. Population dynamics describes the ways in which a given population grows and shrinks over time, as controlled by birth, death, and...

  • Factory ship
    Factory ship
    A factory ship, also known as a fish processing vessel, is a large ocean-going vessel with extensive on-board facilities for processing and freezing caught fish...

  • Fisheries management
    Fisheries management
    Fisheries management draws on fisheries science in order to find ways to protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management...

  • Fishing capacity
  • Jellyfish blooms
  • Natural environment
    Natural environment
    The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....

  • Overexploitation
    Overexploitation
    Overexploitation, also called overharvesting, refers to harvesting a renewable resource to the point of diminishing returns. Sustained overexploitation can lead to the destruction of the resource...

  • Marine Protected Area
    Marine Protected Area
    Marine Protected Areas, like any protected area, are regions in which human activity has been placed under some restrictions in the interest of conserving the natural environment, it's surrounding waters and the occupant ecosystems, and any cultural or historical resources that may require...

  • Marine Stewardship Council
    Marine Stewardship Council
    The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent non-profit organization with an ecolabel and fishery certification programme. Fisheries that are assessed and meet the standard can use the MSC blue ecolabel. The MSC mission is to 'reward sustainable fishing practices’...

  • Maximum sustainable yield
    Maximum sustainable yield
    In population ecology and economics, maximum sustainable yield or MSY is, theoretically, the largest yield that can be taken from a species' stock over an indefinite period...

  • Resource depletion
    Resource depletion
    Resource depletion is an economic term referring to the exhaustion of raw materials within a region. Resources are commonly divided between renewable resources and non-renewable resources...

  • Seafood Choices Alliance
    Seafood Choices Alliance
    The Seafood Choices Alliance is a program of the nonprofit ocean conservation organization, SeaWeb. It was established in 2001 to bring together the disparate elements and diverse approaches in a growing "seafood choices" movement in the United States and expanded into Europe in 2005...

  • Shark finning
    Shark finning
    Shark finning refers to the removal and retention of shark fins and the discarding of the rest of the fish. Shark finning takes place at sea so the fishers only have to transport the fins.Shark finning is widespread, and largely unmanaged and unmonitored...

  • Sustainability
    Sustainability
    Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

  • Sustainable development
    Sustainable development
    Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

  • Sustainable fisheries
    Sustainable fisheries
    Sustainability in fisheries combines theoretical disciplines, such as the population dynamics of fisheries, with practical strategies, such as avoiding overfishing through techniques such as individual fishing quotas, curtailing destructive and illegal fishing practices by lobbying for appropriate...

  • Sustainable seafood
    Sustainable seafood
    Sustainable seafood is seafood from either fished or farmed sources that can maintain or increase production in the future without jeopardizing the ecosystems from which it was acquired...

  • Tragedy of the commons
    Tragedy of the commons
    The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this...

  • World Ocean Day
    World Ocean Day
    World Oceans Day, which had been unofficially celebrated every June 8 since its original proposal in 1992 by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008...



External links

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