Effective management and incentives can rebuild fisheries sector, says OECD
Governments looking to boost their fisheries sector should review their policies to create incentives for economically and environmentally sustainable fisheries, according to a new OECD report.
Rebuilding Fisheries: The Way Forward provides fisheries policy makers with a set of practical and evidence-based principles and guidelines to consider when designing and implementing rebuilding plans that contribute to green growth and preserve the livelihoods that depend directly or indirectly on fisheries.
The report says that fisheries and aquaculture are essential to the global economy and food security. Fisheries products are the most traded food commodity in the world, providing over 1 billion people with their main source of protein while sustaining millions of jobs in the coastal communities of developed and developing countries.
However, many of the world’s fisheries are in poor condition, both economically and biologically. Despite the implementation of recovery plans, overfishing has seen the collapse of high-profile species such as the Northwest Atlantic cod – almost 30% of global fish stocks are estimated to be overexploited or depleted. Meanwhile, low productivity and inadequate profitability have badly affected fishers, their families and their communities.
Increased demand for food and pressure on natural resources, as well as the effects of climate change, will put further uncertainty on the sector. Rights-based fisheries management (RBM) measures – such as property rights and catch quotas - are driven by economic incentives but can also achieve ecological goals, such as rebuilding fish stocks.
Dialogue between fishers, managers and other stakeholders can contribute crucial information to rebuilding plans and help overcome initial resistance to RBM proposals.
OECD analysis suggests that successfully recovering a fishery from a fragile state can bring a large increase in its value, depending on its ecological, economic, and regulatory characteristics. The recommendations of this report to policy makers for creating an effective fisheries rebuilding plan include:
- Assess comprehensively the ecological, economic and social condition of the fishery
- Define clear objectives, targets, harvest control rules and assessment indicators
- Engage with stakeholders on matters such as the costs and benefits of a rebuilding plan
- Implement appropriate monitoring, control and surveillance instruments
- Take into account by-catch and discards, and include measures to reduce these where possible