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There is an active and diverse small-scale fisheries sector in this regional assembly – with a strong traditional/indigenous focus in the northern parts of N America, with significant resource and management rights attached to the fisheries, a dynamic small commercial sector throughout most of the region, and more mixed indigenous/introduced small scale fisheries in Central America. An important particularity of the North American region is the role of recreational fishing, mostly highly regulated and licensed, but engaging substantial numbers of vessels and with considerable impacts on many fish stocks. In these generally prosperous areas, the value of fish as a recreational good is many times the equivalent commercial value, and policy objectives increasingly reflect this.

Fisheries in all parts of this region benefit from relatively good access to major urban markets, particularly in the USA and Canada, but increasingly in other parts of the region, with good transport routes favouring the landing and sale of high quality fresh product. This area is also characterized by strong national policies and policy influence concerning resource and environmental management, and while this broadly favours concepts of small-scale selective fishing, and in the case of salmonids and various mollusc species, considerable investment in stocking and enhancement, conservation pressures may result in increasing areas of resource being subject to access restriction.

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