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1.1 The Need for Fisheries Management
1.2 The Fisheries Management Process
1.3 Biological and Environmental Concepts and Constraints (7.1.1)
1.4 Technological Considerations
1.5 Social and Economic Dimensions
1.6 Institutional Concepts and Functions
1.7 Time-scales in the Fisheries Management Process
1.8 Precautionary Approach

1.1 The Need for Fisheries Management

Fisheries have substantial social and economic importance. It is estimated that 12.5 million people are employed in activities related to fishing and the value of fish traded internationally has been estimated at US$ 40 billion per annum for the early nineties. The total production from capture fisheries and aquaculture during the same period reached and oscillated around a total mass of 100 million tons.

However, at present, a large proportion of the world’s exploited fish stocks are fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted or in need of recovery and many are affected by environmental degradation, particularly in the inland and coastal areas. Major ecological damage, which may not always be reversible, and economic waste are already evident in many cases.

New technological developments, such as geographical positioning systems (GPS), radar, echo-sounders, more powerful vessels and improved processing methods (e.g. surimi) continue to enhance the ability of fishers to exploit more living resources more intensively, potentially increasing the severity of the problem.

The existing status of the world’s living aquatic resources is largely a result of a failure of the present process of fisheries governance to achieve responsible and effective management of fisheries in most countries. Fishers, fisheries management authorities and fisheries scientists, as well as those responsible for indirect impacts such as environmental degradation, must accept shared responsibility for the existing unsatisfactory status of the world’s fisheries and living aquatic resources. It is the States’ responsibility to ensure that joint measures are taken to reverse these trends. What follows highlights the actions necessary to implement responsible fisheries management.

It is important for fisheries managers to realize that, when resources are being over-exploited or exploited in an irresponsible manner, a failure to act will have negative consequences in the future. Reducing fish stocks to biologically and ecologically harmful levels will result in a loss of potential benefits as food, income, employment and others, both immediately and in the long term. A very low level of any stock is likely to have negative impacts on other dependent stocks, and the losses may extend beyond the immediately affected stock. It cannot automatically be assumed that, in such cases, a relaxation of fishing pressure will lead to a full or immediate recovery of the stock and associated ecosystem. In some cases losses may be long-lasting or even permanent.

1.2 The Fisheries Management Process

There are no clear and generally accepted definitions of fisheries management. A working definition, for the purposes of this document, may be taken as:

The integrated process of information gathering, analysis, planning, consultation, decision-making, allocation of resources and formulation and implementation, with enforcement as necessary, of regulations or rules which govern fisheries activities in order to ensure the continued productivity of the resources and accomplishment of other fisheries objectives.
Fisheries management entails a complex and wide-embracing set of tasks, aimed at ensuring that the optimal benefits are obtained for the local users, State or region from the sustainable utilization of the living aquatic resources to which they have access. While fisheries management draws on fisheries research and analysis and, sometimes, institutionalized processes of elaboration of advice, it should not be confused with them; it encompasses but goes beyond them. From the working definition above, fisheries management can be taken to include the following:
(i) Setting policies and objectives for each fishery or stock to be managed, taking into account the biological characteristics of the stock, the nature of existing or potential fisheries and other activities related to or impacting the stock and the potential economic and social contribution of the fishery to national or local needs and goals.

(ii) Determining and implementing the actions necessary to enable the management authorities, the fishers and other interest groups, to work towards the identified objectives. This task should be done in consultation with all interest groups. The actions required will include: developing and implementing management plans for all managed stocks; ensuring that the stock or stocks, the ecosystems in which they occur and their environment are maintained in a productive state; collecting and analyzing the biological and fishery data necessary for assessment, monitoring, control and surveillance; adoption and promulgation of appropriate and effective laws and regulations necessary to achieve the objectives, and ensuring that fishers comply with them to achieve the objectives.

(iii) Consulting and negotiating with users or interest groups concerned with resources and from areas not directly related to fishery activities but which impact on fisheries. Examples would include groups engaged in activities in a river or lake basin or the coastal zone which impact on fisheries. The management authority needs to ensure that the interests of fisheries are appropriately considered and catered for in planning and integration of such activities.

(iv) In consultation with the users, regularly reviewing the management objectives and measures to ensure they are still appropriate and effective.

(v) Reporting to Governments, users and the public on the state of resources and management performance.

In the Code of Conduct the primary responsibility for overseeing the fisheries management process is vested essentially with fisheries arrangements and organizations. To be operational and allow for adequate governance, those arrangements and organizations should be determined and integrated into institutional support structures, i.e the fisheries management institutions. In this document, the fisheries management institutions have been arbitrarily aggregated into two main categories: the fisheries management authority and the interested parties.

A fisheries management authority is defined very broadly in this document in order to focus attention on the fisheries management process itself rather than focusing attention on the otherwise important juridical distinctions between the very wide range of bodies (both national and international) embraced by the term as it is defined here.

A fisheries management authority accordingly is defined to include the legal entity which has been assigned by a State or States with a mandate to perform certain specified fisheries management functions. In national systems, including federal systems, a fisheries management authority would usually take the form of a ministry, a department within a ministry (e.g. agriculture) or an agency. A fisheries management authority may also be international in character and include a fisheries management organization or arrangement either sub-regional, regional or global. No assumption is made in this definition as to whether the body in question is governmental, parastatal or private.

The term interested party (or interest group) refers to any party which has been accepted by the State or States or by the management authority on behalf of the State or States as having a legitimate interest in the fisheries resources being managed.

1.3 Biological and Environmental Concepts and Constraints (7.1.1)

1.3.1 Resource constraints
1.3.2 Environmental constraints
1.3.3 Biodiversity and ecological considerations

1.3.1 Resource constraints

(i) Living populations or stocks are capable of growth in abundance and biomass, but only up to a certain limit. The limits to growth are determined by the current size of the population in relation to its average abundance in the unexploited state, and by the environment in which the stock occurs. The maintenance of a stock at productive levels requires an adequate abundance of reproductively mature adults, the spawners, and suitable critical environments for successfully passing through the different stages in the life history. However, particularly as a result of variability in the environment, the growth of a stock from year to year is usually highly variable.

(ii) The potential productivity of stocks is best understood through scientific analysis, based on agreed concepts, using standard methodologies to produce reproducible and comparable results. However, where the capacity is not available for this, for example in some traditional coastal communities, some estimates may be obtainable from empirical observation on historical catch levels. Determining the existing status of a stock, and the potential yield from it under different management strategies, is the goal of modern stock assessment. The most reliable stock assessments available should underlie fisheries management decisions on the resources and hence the returns from the resource through utilisation (see Sections 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4).

(iii) Responsible fishing should not allow more of the resource to be harvested on average than can be replaced by net growth in the stock. This does not mean that annual catches may never exceed net annual production and, under most harvesting strategies, natural variability and uncertainties are such that catches are likely to exceed production in some years. However, such action should not result in the biomass of the stock or stocks falling below the pre-determined limit reference point (see Section 3.1) at which the risk of resource collapse becomes unacceptably high. Failure to follow this rule will mean that the resource will be depleted with time, leading to lower than optimal average yields and economic returns. If steps are not taken to correct such a situation, the risk of biological collapse, of uncertain duration, and economic waste or extinction of the fishery will be increased to an unacceptable level (7.2.1).

(iv) Fish species occur in populations which may be made up of a number of largely self-sustaining stocks, which are effectively genetically isolated from each other by behavioural, oceanographic or topographical features. As far as possible, fisheries management must address each stock separately and strive to fish each stock sustainably (7.3.1) or set an overall exploitation rate that does not drive the components of a multi-species resource to dangerously low levels. Failure to adhere to this will result in a risk that there will be extinctions or severe depletions of individual stocks, even while the population as a whole is in an apparently healthy state. The effective genetic isolation of stocks could mean that such local extinctions are irreversible, and permanent damage is done to the status and productivity of the population as a whole as well as to local fishing grounds.

(v) In addition to avoiding over-fishing of specific stocks, the fisheries management authority needs to avoid actions that will adversely affect the genetic diversity of a stock or population. Long-term fishing pressure above sustainable levels on selected portions of a stock, such as large individuals, can have the effect of reducing the frequency of the selected genetic features, hence reducing the heterozygosity of the stock or population. Such sustained selective effects should be avoided.

(vi) While many fisheries, and many stock assessment and management strategies, focus on single-species or stocks, in reality all species of aquatic resources function within, and are dependent on, communities of differing complexity in terms of the number of species. Therefore, harvesting any one species is almost certain to impact others, either through technological interactions such as the incidental capture of other species during fishing, or through food chain effects such as reducing the abundance of a predator, prey or competitor of other species through fishing. The impact on ecological linkages (e.g. through the trophic chain) between species, may lead to changes in species dominance and affect the dynamic equilibria of the resource system, potentially affecting future options. These multi-species effects need to be considered in responsible fishing, which should aim to ensure that no species, whether targeted, by-catch or indirectly affected by fishing, is reduced to below sustainable levels by fishing (7.6.9).

(vii) An important consequence of multi-species effects in fishing is that it is impossible to harvest simultaneously the maximum sustainable yield from each species in an assemblage in a given area comprising a mixture of predators and prey species. Each element of the assemblage has its own biological parameters and characteristics and would require a specific fishing regime catching only that species, a condition impossible to fulfil in practice. In addition, modifying the abundance of predators (or prey species) will affect the abundance of the other elements of the assemblage with which they interact in a way which remains generally difficult to forecast. As a consequence, the optimal multi-species yield from an area will always be lower than the sum of the individual species potential yield. Responsible fishing should therefore not aim to obtain the maximum sustainable yield from each component of a multi-species community as this will lead to over-exploitation of at least some of the component stocks (7.2.3).

1.3.2 Environmental constraints

(i) The life stages of fish are affected by environmental conditions, which can influence growth, reproductive and mortality rates. The earlier life stages are particularly susceptible to such influences which can lead to high variability in resource abundance and production on a variety of time-scales. Of most relevance to fisheries management are fluctuations in recruitment from year to year and shifts in ecological regime in which the functional characteristics of the ecosystem, including the composition, abundance and location of the fish community, may change dramatically over periods of decades, driven by environmental forces. Fisheries management must be aware of this variability and, particularly for inter-annual variability, attempt to address it in management plans (7.2.3). This requires that fisheries must be able to cope, without adding excessive adverse impact on the stock, with years in which the stock and its productivity are driven to below-average levels by natural environmental fluctuations. Thus, the capacity of the fisheries (i.e. the potential effort which they can exert) must not be determined by and set on the basis of yields which can be obtained in average to good years but on the long-term average, with flexibility to allow for effort reductions in bad years. Failure to address this principle in the case of variable resources will lead to continual pressure to over-exploit the fisheries in below average years and to an overall poor economic performance of the fisheries.

(ii) Environmental variability can also influence the availability of fish to the fishery by, for example, dispersing fish more widely so that they are less available or concentrating them in areas where they are more easily caught. Care must be taken that such changes in availability are not interpreted as changes in stock size, which can lead to incorrect management decisions being made and to excessive and unsustainable catches.

(iii) In most unperturbed ecosystems, an unfished stock will tend to fluctuate around an average maximum level, corresponding to the average carrying capacity of the habitat for that stock. The long-term productivity of a stock is related to this carrying capacity. However, the carrying capacity not only can change through time due to natural variability but also decline as a result of human activity such as destructive fishing methods (e.g. the use of dynamite or cyanide), coastal habitat degradation (e.g. through urban development or destructive trawling in sensitive habitats), modification of river flows, or pollution. This may adversely affect the productivity of stocks, contributing to the risk of over-exploitation. Fisheries management should assess the impact of such influences on the status of fish stocks and their natural habitats and take steps to correct the situation by (i) acting to stop any adverse environmental impacts resulting from human activity (7.2.2f) and g); 7.2.3), (ii) adjusting the fishing pressure to take into account changes in productivity and, if necessary, (iii) restore stocks and habitats to a productive condition (7.6.10). (iv) Alternatively, habitat enhancement can positively influence the productivity of fish stocks through, for example, ecologically sound provision of artificial reefs, appropriate levels of fertilization of lakes, control of predators, restoration of destroyed or damaged coastal, shore-line or river-bank habitat areas, or through improvements in water quality. Attention should be given to maintaining, or restoring as necessary, nursery habitats and migratory pathways, including important longshore and offshore/onshore pathways.

(v) Inland fisheries are particularly influenced by external environmental factors, and responsible use of inland fisheries requires the identification of the primary external factors influencing these fisheries and their impacts on the fish stock or stocks. Such knowledge is required to ensure that appropriate management action can be taken when changes are brought about by one or more of these factors. Such action may include appropriate adjustment of fishing mortality but may also include corrective or rehabilitative action. The most common external factors influencing inland fisheries production include: , water quantity, both the absolute (e.g. mean) quantity and the distribution of the quantity over time (e.g. seasonal, longer-term cycles, artificial regulation), and , water quality, which will most commonly change through pollution by toxic chemicals, excessive sediment load or eutrophication.

1.3.3 Biodiversity and ecological considerations

(i) Fishing activities are normally deliberately targeted at one or more species in an ecosystem. However, they frequently also affect other components of the ecosystem through, for example, by-catch of other species, physical damage to the ecosystem or through food chain effects. Responsible fisheries management should consider the impact of fisheries on the ecosystem as a whole, including its biodiversity, and should strive for sustainable use of whole ecosystems and biological communities (7.2.2d)).

(ii) As mentioned in 1.1, many fish stocks around the world are already over-exploited and depleted. This results in lower yields being obtained from the stocks than would otherwise be possible (or lowered quality and economic value of the landings), and increases the risk of stock collapse and negative ecological changes. Fisheries management is required by the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention (and by the Code of Conduct) to restore depleted populations (7.6.10) to levels above those at which maximum productivity occurs (e.g. to biomass levels higher than the level corresponding to the Maximum Sustainable Yield, MSY). This reflects current thinking that providing a margin for safety that takes into account normal variability and uncertainty requires using MSY as a limit for fisheries management, rather than as a target.

1.4 Technological Considerations

(i) In managing an unstocked, capture fishery, the only mechanism available to maintain the fish stock at a desirable level and with an age structure adequate to avoid recruitment over-fishing, is the control of fishing mortality, i.e. the proportions of the various age groups of the stock which are removed in a given period, usually defined as one year, by the fishery. By regulating the amount of fishing effort exerted, either through catch or effort controls, by regulating the gear or fishing method used and by regulating when and where fishing is permitted, the management authority can control the mass and sizes or ages of fish caught, within the limits of natural variability and uncertainty. This is discussed further in 3.1. (ii) It is widely recognized that the presence of excess capacity in a fishery increases the pressure on the fisheries management authority to exceed the optimal fishing mortality on a stock, and makes it more difficult to enforce regulations restricting effort. This occurs through social and political pressures to make full use of this excess catching and processing capacity and to retain those people associated with this excess capacity in employment. However, this will clearly only be a short-term solution leading to even greater problems in the long-term. Excess capacity also inevitably involves economic inefficiency. It is therefore in the interests of the users and the resource to maintain potential fishing capacity at a level commensurate with the long-term stock productivity. Mechanisms to do this are discussed under 3.1 (7.1.8; 7.2.2a); 7.6.1; 7.6.3).

(iii) Fisheries management authorities must recognise that fishers continually strive to improve the technology they use as well as their cost-effectiveness. This, however, tends to improve their efficiency in fishing. In a fishery regulated by effort control, this can mean that actual effort and hence fishing mortality is, in reality, slowly increasing as fishers discover new ways to become more efficient even though nominal effort (e.g. number of fishing days) is controlled. This phenomenon must be catered for both in control of fishing, where effort control is used as a management tool, and in interpreting effort statistics for stock assessment purposes. Technological progress implies that, in order to maintain fishing capacity and mortality at desired levels, continuous adjustments to meet allowed effort levels may be needed.

1.5 Social and Economic Dimensions

1.5.1 Social and cultural constraints
1.5.2 Economic context and constraints

(i) From one perspective, human involvement in fisheries can be seen as having an overwhelming and possibly irreversible impact on the resource. Alternatively, fisheries resources can be viewed as capital stock that if managed responsibly can generate considerable and sustained social and economic benefits. The social and economic dimensions consider the effect of the fishery on people and how to optimize the benefits for the interested parties or interested groups and the society in general. Included in the interest groups are the people who use technology to exploit fisheries resources: to catch and produce fish; to process it in various ways; and to market it or otherwise derive a livelihood from fish. To these interested parties can be added the consumers, lobby groups and other groups which may be indirectly affected by management decisions. Recreational fisheries have considerable social and economic importance in many countries and representative bodies from this sector should be included as interest groups in such cases.

(ii) Responsible fisheries require that the critical factors constituting the social and economic dimensions of the management system be understood (7.4.5). The social dimension encompasses a wide range of variables in the human sphere. It is primarily concerned with the interaction between people: how, and why, individuals or groups behave in relation to each other and in relation to the fisheries resource they use or on which they depend. These relations are mediated by a great variety of cultural patterns, habits and customs, instruments of exchange, institutions and individual or group motivations. Further, fisheries are primarily economic activities and the economic dimension encompasses revenues and costs which vary with the level of exploitation and relate to dynamic market forces.

(iii) Social and economic variables interact closely, and any management decision is likely to have effects on, for example, the distribution of income and wealth, the amount and form of employment, the allocation of use rights, the composition and the cohesion of interest groups and sub-groups. More generally, interest group attitudes, positive and negative, towards management regimes will be influenced by management decisions and actions. Fisheries management actions may further affect the contribution of the fishery to critical policy issues such as food security, net foreign exchange earnings, subsidies and other benefits and costs.

(iv) Alternatively, social and economic dimensions can conflict, in which case care must be taken to seek the greatest coincidence between the agreed social and economic objectives of any management plan. Failure to reach a minimum agreed level of compatibility will directly affect the acceptability and implementability of any management plan. The ease with which coincidence is likely to be reached is related to the simplicity of the fishery. For example, coincidence would tend to be more easily reached in pure industrial fisheries, particularly in international fisheries, in which the economic dimension usually predominates. On the contrary, social considerations frequently dominate in small-scale fisheries. Such social considerations can include, for example, the transmission of knowledge, recruitment of crew, investment and credit schemes, solidarity, channels of reciprocal obligations and rights linking individuals of different social status. These factors are in turn often dependent on age, gender, family history, local beliefs and customs. Moreover, in small-scale fisheries, contacts between user groups, political leaders and administrations tend to rely mainly on social processes and institutions. When considering subsistence, small scale and artisanal fisheries, particular attention should therefore be paid to the social conditions, and the specific perceptions, of the participants (7.2.2c)). The greatest problems in achieving coincidence in the objectives are likely to occur in mixed (technology and species) fisheries with mixed social, economic and biological objectives.

1.5.1 Social and cultural constraints

(i) Social conditions are subject to constant changes over time and space. Changes can operate on several levels: longer-term cycles of historical change, shorter-term cycles of seasonal change and the immediate month-to-month or day-to-day changes which might be related to weather, employment, demand and supply and other conditions. Such changes will impact the management approach in an interactive manner as people will be affected by the management regime but, in turn, their attitudes to it, and hence its viability, will be influenced by the prevailing state of a range of these dynamic social conditions. Even in traditional societies, where the pace of change may seem slow, these elements in the social system and the historical patterns of resource exploitation must be taken into consideration (7.6.6).

(ii) Some social variables are to a degree quantifiable and hence can be measured and subjected to quantitative analysis and modelling. Other variables, however, relate to meaning, values and organization in the social life of the interest groups. These can be difficult to identify and even more difficult to quantify, often because they are the result of combinations of dynamic elements such as the culture in which people live and its historical development. Examples of such qualitative variables include: motivation of individuals; fishing behaviour, strategies and perceptions of risk; status and political influence in a group or community; perception of moral legitimacy of management practices; and access to information. Knowledge of both qualitative and quantitative variables is the basis for evaluating the compatibility between a management option and the social context in which it has to function (7.6.7).

(iii) A first step towards identifying the relevant variables of the social dimension is the identification and selection of those distinct social groups who are concerned with the resource, its use and the benefits which derive from it, i.e the social groups making up the different interested parties. A second step is to analyse how these groups interact and to evaluate how different management interventions may affect each of them. The social groupings will usually vary depending on the type of production unit. In different circumstances, professional skill, kinship ties, age or ethnic group may all play a role in determining the composition of the production unit and the social and economic relations between members of the unit. Such considerations should not be overlooked if the management system is to be accepted.

1.5.2 Economic context and constraints

(i) A paramount objective for the fishery sector as a whole is to realize its full economic potential, as measured over time by the sum of net economic benefits across all producers and consumers, including rent which could be otherwise extracted.

(ii) Under optimum conditions market forces usually ensure economic efficiency. However, optimum conditions generally do not prevail in the fishery sector and there is a need to address carefully the impact, inter alia, of externalities and price distortions which might lead to economic overfishing. These are frequently major sources of economic inefficiency, which generally result in rent dissipation and would require management intervention.

(iii) Without proper management mechanisms, fishers tend to have insufficient incentives and information to take into account the effects their activities have on others in the short and long term. This produces a pervasive tendency for over-expansion of fishing effort beyond the point of maximum economic yield. Economic overfishing manifests itself in excessive input allocation to the fishery, inducing, particularly in industrial fisheries, over-capitalization and frequently excess fishingcapacity as stocks are progressively depleted. Eventually, in most fisheries a point will be reached where the cost of fishing exceeds the value of the catch. In addition, this typically occurs in a context where fluctuations in fish abundance, market prices and operating costs are continuous and induces cycles of investment and stock depletion. States should therefore strive to prevent or, where necessary, eliminate excess fishing capacity, thereby maintaining fishing effort at levels appropriate to the productivity of the resource or resources (7.1.8; 7.6.3).

(iv) Price distortions may also contribute to over-investment and economic waste and often exacerbate management constraints. Among these are the many subsidies which States provide to the sector in relation to investments or to some key inputs such as fuel and various form of tax exemptions and rebates (see Section 3.2.1).

(v) Externalities are common to the fishery sector. These relate in particular to internal externalities linked to the nature of the stocks and their exploitation. They may be imposed by a user of the resource on another user or group of users, for example, when large efficient vessels fish in the same areas as small-scale fishers, resulting in negative interactions between the two sub-sectors or when mobile gear interacts with fixed bottom gear (7.6.5). These externalities may result in substantial shifts in fishing behaviour and strategies of interest groups. They may induce conflicts and costs which can be significant and could lead to lower economic performance.

(vi) The economic performance of fisheries is strongly influenced by the broad economic context. Failure to integrate macroeconomic factors and account for externalities generated from outside the fishery sector is likely to undermine the foundation of fisheries management interventions and again encourage conflicts. Fisheries must be influenced for example by the evolution of exchange rates, trade regulations and changes in fiscal policies. Moreover, and particularly at local level, the fishery sector often competes with other sectors, frequently for resource use but also in relation to other externalities such as the impact on fisheries of environmental degradation by other sectors.

(vii) Conflicts between different users for the use of the same aquatic resources are common (e.g between tourism and fishing in coastal areas or between fishing and agriculture in use of inland waters), and an important task of the relevant authorities is to evaluate current and potential conflicts with a view to minimizing them and obtaining optimal returns from the resource. Inter-sectoral and inter-institutional dialogue is therefore inevitably required and should be sustained, for example, between the fisheries management authority and the finance and planning ministries or within appropriate international fora. Such dialogue and informationexchange will enable the fisheries sector to take advantage of, or make appropriate adjustments to, exogenous policy and economic changes. It will facilitate developing coherent and consistent options or proposals to guide the fishery towards participating in achieving the goals determined by macro-economic policies, local development strategies or the evolution of the international context.

(viii) Many existing fisheries management concepts are based on cases where a single State has complete jurisdiction over a fishery. In the case of transboundary fisheries, States tend to act like competing harvesters, each of which is induced to neglect the impact of its own harvesting on the stock and on future productivity. Such activity has the probable consequence of driving the stock and fisheries, on both sides of the boundaries, into the spiral of over-capitalization discussed above. Unless the countries concerned reach a binding agreement or, failing that, nevertheless cooperate (7.1.5) to conserve and manage the fishery jointly, the economic performances of each and all participating States are unlikely to be maximized.

(ix) However, poor economic performances, as well as management failures, are frequently directly linked to the complexity of most fisheries (unavoidable by-catches and discards, uncertainty and imperfect information, incomplete and multiple jurisdictions, irreconcilable conflicting objectives). These constraints are often exacerbated by an inability or unwillingness to implement and support the costs of management measures that reduce externalities. Hence, evaluation of economic performances must not oversimplify fluctuations in the economic parameters of the fishery. This is particularly valid for multi-species fisheries in which the various species are likely to interact.

(x) The evaluation of economic performances requires an assessment of all costs and all benefits, direct and indirect (see Section 2.3.3), associated with a fishery or a specific sub-sector, related to the users and to the management authority and generated from inside or outside the sector. Each stage of the management process involves transaction costs such as for gathering information, coordinating participants, resolving conflicts, monitoring conditions and enforcing decisions. The transaction costs of management are likely to vary according to the extent of user participation in the management process (see Section 3.3) and they should also be evaluated.

(xi) In international fisheries, measurement of costs and benefits may include unique considerations. For example, there may be specific costs and benefits associated with the cooperative action required for international management of the fishery. Economic constraints to transboundary management might be, for example, if some non-contracting parties to a cooperative arrangement find it beneficial to avoid management and compliance costs of the agreed management strategy and plan (e.g. costs of carrying observers, of modifying gear and enforcement costs). Such non-compliance could also impose external costs on all contracting parties, such as reduced global catch for the contracting parties leading to displacement of vessels with possible loss of net revenues. Another difficulty with international fisheries is the probable existence of different national interests and objectives possibly leading to conflicts. These differences could include discount rate, production costs, consumer preferences and prices of fish on the national markets.

(xii) Responsible fisheries management requires an assessment of the economic consequences of any management action (7.6.7). A primary requirement is to estimate the value of the fishery and incorporate consideration of this value into the various options for the allocation of the resource and the extraction of its rent. The net value to society of a fishery is any returns earned in excess of the opportunity costs of the labour and capital employed. Rent can be obtained by the State or local authority either through taxation (on catch or effort) or by charging users for use of the resource. An alternative might be to leave rents with the industry in such a way that their value could be capitalized into property rights. Whatever the management option retained, the extraction of reasonable rent will usually require limiting usage.

(xiii) In determining the value of a fishery or exploited resource, key issues that need to be considered are the definitions of the management unit and the production units within it (see Section 2.3.3). The definitions must be wide enough to include all economic factors that impact on the fishery. Otherwise, control of one sector (e.g. the commercial sector) may unintentionally transfer benefits to or from another sector (e.g the recreational sector). Further, it needs to be recognized that regulating only a part of the fishing activity on a resource or area, for example the industrial fishery sector, may exert an economic bias on, for example, the artisanal sector, with unexpected consequences preventing achievement of the objectives for the fishery as a whole. Therefore, management units should, as far as possible, consider all interacting fisheries and related activities.

1.6 Institutional Concepts and Functions

1.6.1 Institutional context and characteristics
1.6.2 Role and function of fisheries management institutions

(i) Fisheries management institutions, as defined in Section 1.2, must be consistent with the requirements of responsible fisheries management. They should be tailored to the characteristics of particular fisheries and individual nations and, as far as possible, be designed to match the expectations and perceptions of resource users.

(ii) In a broader sense, the institutions may comprise the various sets of relations between individuals or groups of interested parties and the State or States which define their respective rights and responsibilities. These may include rules (e.g. designation of the management regime), mechanisms (e.g. decision-making process) and the organizational support structures that develop and implement the rules affecting the use of the fishery resources. Such support structures may include, for example, a fishery administration, intergovernmental management body, gathering of village elders or committee of users.

(iii) In this document, fisheries management arrangements or organizations are addressed principally through two main categories of institutions: the fisheries management authority and the interested parties. The management authority will be the legal entity which has been designated by a State or States to make the decisions on how the fishery must be carried out and to implement the decisions. It is taken to be accountable for ancillary services, such as resource allocation, consultation with interested parties or determination of the conditions of access to the fishery. The term interested party (or interest group) will generally refer to any party which has been accepted by the State or States or by the management authority on behalf of the State or States, as having a legitimate interest in the fisheries resources being managed.

(iv) In the case of international fisheries, representatives of the States concerned are likely to be the interested parties and must take responsibility for the interests of their citizens, some of who may themselves be members of interest groups within or between States, such as fisher organizations or non-governmental organizations (7.1.6). In the case of fisheries within national jurisdiction, States must decide within the fishery and its direct and indirect segments who should be among the interested parties (7.1.2). In both cases, States should recognize that representatives of States or groups which can show a legitimate interest and commitment to long-term management objectives can also be admitted as interested parties (7.1.4).

1.6.1 Institutional context and characteristics

(i) Management institutions may differ widely in nature and serve a wide range of functions, including, as is often the case with traditional institutions, functions besides the management of fisheries. Different institutions will differ in terms of their rules, mechanisms and structures and the manner in which they are assembled. The effectiveness of a fisheries management institution is highly dependent upon the appropriateness of its separate components and the way in which these components interact. The cause of ineffective management often lies with institutional deficiencies expressed both in terms of functions and assemblage. In addition, the perception of the legitimacy of the institutions will affect the extent to which those institutions will be efficient in carrying out their management responsibilities.

(ii) The groups of interested parties should preferably have conditions for membership satisfying specific standards in fisheries management (e.g. production, market, resource conservation, environmental protection, etc.). When based on clearly defined interests or common factors, such as geographical areas, ports, community, gear or resource type, these groups may be more effective and ultimately result in better management performances than if they are poorly defined and heterogeneous in composition. In the fisheries management process, these institutions, or the decision-making mechanisms associated with them, will be the principal point of contact between the individuals constituting the groups of interested parties and the fisheries management authority responsible for developing plans.

(iii) Final responsibility for decision-making usually lies with the relevant political authority. However, responsible fisheries management requires that institutional partnerships enabling various types of collaboration with the interested parties be recognized as possible alternatives to locating the entire set of management responsibilities with pure government structures or arrangements (7.1.2).

(iv) Institutional designs for ensuring the collaboration of interested parties in the fisheries management process may range from: setting informational mechanisms aimed essentially at presenting the outputs of the management planning process; through establishing consultative mechanisms designed mainly for the responsible government structure to gather information and receive guidance from interested parties; to establishing specifics sets of mechanisms for sharing management responsibilities with various degrees of delegation of competencies (see Section 3.3).

(v) When feasible, mechanisms should be considered to ensure that the interested parties provide for the cost of operation of the fisheries management authority at a level adequate for it to discharge its functions.

(vi) Institutions are dynamic by nature and need to be permanently monitored, evaluated and adjusted as necessary to ensure ongoing effectiveness and legitimacy. Institutional adjustment is a complex and sometimes uncertain endeavour. For example, the adoption of institutional arrangements that facilitate economic efficiency may encounter obstacles such as cultural values, inertia within producer organizations or political sensitivity to the consequences of change. To tailor management institutions to the state and nature of particular fisheries, care should be taken to adopt approaches that are flexible and which explicitly allow for regularre-negotiation of management measures. States should also review the performance of their management authorities and those international ones of which they are members at intervals normally of every three to five years.

1.6.2 Role and function of fisheries management institutions

(i) A primary function of a fisheries management institution is typically to identify and implement rules and procedures whereby the fishery can be carried out in a sustainable fashion to meet established objectives. Usually these rules mainly translate policy objectives into rights and obligations, supported as necessary by policy instruments. For example, they may determine the nature and extent of users’ entitlements or define the conditions of access to a fishery and may be supported by a fiscal scheme to extract rent. Whatever their nature (e.g. formal or informal), identified rules should be embodied by the State or States in the legal regime in force (see Section 4.3.1) or sanctioned at policy level.

(ii) Responsible fisheries management requires the existence of management institutions among which would be one or more explicit fisheries management authority. In particular, functions of any management authority at a minimum should include the mandate for:

The area of competence and the fish resources, fisheries and geographical areas for which the fisheries management authority is responsible and accountable must be precisely defined.

(iii) A fisheries management authority may incorporate sub-structures or subsidiary bodies as required to perform various functions, or it may be constituted of several separate autonomous but interrelated bodies. The presence and number of subsidiary bodies and the nature of the linkages between them will vary substantially depending on factors such as the political, geographical or fishery context and the nature of the authority or mandate assigned. However, when relevant, levels of responsibility among subsidiary bodies should be clearly specified. Regardless of the structure chosen, care must be taken to ensure that efficient channels of communication, interaction and feedback exist between the various components of the management authority, with the interested parties and with any other institutions indirectly concerned with the fishery.

(iv) When States devolve all or part of management functions to local government or groupings, such as management committees, producers' organizations or fishing communities, this delegation of authority must also include clarification of their respective functions and, where relevant, delimitation of the geographical area or management unit falling under each jurisdiction. For fisheries managed at local level, care should be particularly taken to establish unequivocal arrangements on the nature and allocation of access rights, the consultation process, the mechanisms for the collection and analysis of data and information and the structure for compliance and enforcement (see Section 3.3).

(v) General institutional frameworks for transboundary stocks and high-sea fisheries are set out in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and, in the case of high-sea fisheries, are further detailed in the 1995 UN Convention on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Stocks. They are also suggested in Agenda 21 adopted by the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). More generally, the nature of responsibilities, mode of operation and structure of international or regional fisheries management arrangements or institutions dealing with marine or inland fisheries should not differ substantially from national fisheries management institutions. The primary differences usually relate to the international nature of the arrangement or institution, frequently resulting in additional complexity. In particular, the States or management authorities concerned must reach a balance between national and common interests and must overcome the generally limited enforcement capacity of intergovernmental institutions.

(vi) If the area of jurisdiction of the management authority, as constituted, only covers part of the stock area or, in such cases where the area of responsibility of a fisheries management authority overlaps with the areas of responsibility of one or more other fisheries management authorities, mechanisms for cooperation or specific bilateral, sub-regional or regional institutional arrangements or organizations should be set up (7.1.3). An integral part of such cooperation must include the collection of relevant biological, social, economic and environmental data in a uniform and accurate way throughout the range of the stock and the sharing of these data (7.3.4).

1.7 Time-scales in the Fisheries Management Process

It is important to recognize that fisheries management requires goals, research and actions on a variety of time and political scales (from days to years and from local to intergovernmental). There is considerable overlap between activities at the different scales and frequently the same individuals, groups and institutions will be involved in processes and decisions related to more than one time- and political-scale. These different scales occur within a regional or broader context, in the case of transboundary fisheries, or at a national or local level in the case of stocks confined to a single EEZ or local area.

There are three primary activities, occurring at and involving different scales, which should be explicitly considered by fisheries management authorities.

(i) Fisheries policy and development planning. Fisheries and the optimal use of living aquatic resources are frequently important within national or local economies and also interact with other geographically contiguous social and economic activities or compete for use of common resources such as coastal or riverine habitat, water usage, etc. This macro-policy and macro-economic context requires that fisheries activities should take into account national development planning strategies. It is therefore important that policy and planning decisions are made in full knowledge of the implications, costs, benefits and alternatives for use of the resources. These policy decisions will not include the details of daily fisheries management activities, such as specific control measures, but should provide the broad directions on how the resources are to be utilised and the priorities to be given. The policy or policies would normally include the criteria by which access to resources is granted. For example, the fishery policy could stipulate whether preference in each fishery should be given to small-scale traditional fishers or to large-scale industrial fisheries or to some other arrangement. The development and stipulation of policy is normally the responsibility of government, advised by the management authority and other relevant government departments. Policy should be reviewed regularly (e.g. every 5 years).

(ii) Management plan and strategy. Fisheries policy will normally stipulate the broad directions and priorities to be pursued in utilization of a nation’s living aquatic resources. The policy, as it applies to any specific fishery or stock, needs to be translated into a detailed management plan for each fishery (7.3.3; see Section 4.1) which includes the stocks being considered, the agreed biological, social, and economic objectives, the control measures and associated regulations, details of monitoring, control and surveillance and other information specifying how the fishery will be managed. The management plan and strategy should be developed by the management authority with full input from the recognized interest groups and should be evaluated and reviewed, including an “audit” of performance, every three to five years.

(iii) Management implementation. The management plan provides details on how the fishery is to be managed and by whom. It should include a management procedure which gives details on how management decisions are to be made according to developments within the fishery, particularly in response to changes in resource status from year to year. For example, the management plan may specify management by a total allowable catch, and the management procedure would then specify how the total allowable catch is to be calculated each year on, for example, the basis of stock assessment using commercial catch and effort statistics and the results of a fisheries-independent survey. Management implementation involves the action and decision-making necessary to ensure that the management plan is put into operation and functions efficiently. It therefore includes responsibilities such as collecting the data necessary to make resource and fishery control decisions, for example determining the annual total allowable catch (TAC) in accordance with the management procedure, licensing of fishers, monitoring, control and surveillance, and liaison with interest groups on the status of the fishery and resources in relation to the management plan. These are discussed further in Section 4.

1.8 Precautionary Approach

The Code of Conduct dedicates Article 7.5 to the precautionary approach to capture fisheries and species introductions (FAO Fish.Tech.Pap., 350/1, reissued as FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. No.2. Rome, FAO. 1996. 54p.). The concept of the precautionary approach in the context of the protection of the environment was enshrined in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration of the UN Conference on Environment and Development which states:

“In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”
The implications of the precautionary approach to capture fisheries and species introduction have been intensively examined in the Guidelines referred to immediately above. Section 1.6 of these Guidelines summarizes the implications of the precautionary approach as follows.

“1.6 The precautionary approach involves the application of prudent foresight. Taking account of the uncertainties in fisheries systems and the need to take action with incomplete knowledge, it requires inter alia:

a. consideration of the needs of future generations and avoidance of changes that are not potentially reversible;

b. prior identification of undesirable outcomes and of measures that will avoid them or correct them promptly;

c. that any necessary corrective measures are initiated without delay, and that they should achieve their purpose promptly, on a time-scale not exceeding two or three decades;

d. that where the likely impact of resource use is uncertain, priority should be given to conserving the productive capacity of the resource;

e. that harvestable and processing capacity should be commensurate with estimated sustainable levels of resource, and that increases in capacity should be further contained when resource productivity is highly uncertain;

f. all fishing activities must have prior management authorization and be subject to periodic review;

g. an established legal and institutional framework for fishery management within which management plans that implement the above points are instituted for each fishery; and

h. appropriate placement of the burden of proof by adhering to the requirements above.”

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