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The management of fisheries by catch quotas has a long history in a number of areas and has probably been the most common method of controlling exploitation of fish stocks. However, in recent years, management by global Total Allowable Catches (TACs) has not been able to address the rapid improvements in harvesting technology and has therefore not generally been successful in limiting fleet capacity. This drawback, combined with practical difficulties of monitoring and enforcing TACs, has resulted in a poor record of achieving fish stock sustainability and of optimizing the economic performance of fisheries. However, recent advances in and adoption of the techniques of management by Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs), which provide greater incentives for sustaining and optimizing economic performance of fisheries, have again focused attention on quota management. The increasing interest in ITQ management has, however, not been matched by the availability of a theoretical framework for quota management that considers the various biological, economic and financial influences as part of an integrated management system. This paper is the first of a projected series that not only examines the theoretical basis of quota (particularly ITQ) management as an integrated system, but also draws on practical experiences in various parts of the world to provide guidance for agencies examining quota management in fisheries. The present paper covers the biological, economic and financial issues that need to be considered in setting the TAC and in allocating the TAC both among participants in the fishery and between the participants and the regulatory agency. Later papers will address administration of the quota management system, compliance and surveillance Issues and secondary markets for quotas.

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