The Economics of Rebuilding Fisheries

The Economics of Rebuilding Fisheries

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Author(s):
OECD
Publication Date :
15 Apr 2010
Pages :
268
ISBN :
9789264075429 (PDF) ; 9789264075412 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264075429-en

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Rebuilding fisheries is a key challenge for many countries as some stocks are in a poor state while others are depleted.  In May 2009, economists, biologists, fisheries managers and policy makers participated in an OECD Workshop on the Economics of Rebuilding Fisheries. The workshop was designed to identify and analyse economic uncertainties, policy issues, biological conditions and information constraints, and to review the role of key players in program delivery. This conference proceedings presents an overview of the major economic and institutional issues associated with rebuilding fisheries and provides examples of national and international initiatives.

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    Acronyms
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    Introduction
    Rebuilding depleted fisheries and maintaining sustainable fish stocks is the central objective of fisheries management. At the international level this is espoused through agreements such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and most recently through the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) commitment to rebuild fish stocks to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels by 2015. In addition, ensuring a profitable fishing industry that supports coastal communities where few alternatives may exist, maintaining biodiversity and ensuring food security are key drivers for rebuilding fisheries. From an economic point of view, recent studies have estimated the lost rent from not rebuilding fisheries; the FAO/World Bank estimates that this could be as much as 50 billion USD each year. Moreover, many experts suggest that a necessary first step to rebuilding fisheries is evident and generally effective: a rapid reduction of fishing effort for overfished and depleted fisheries. But if that is the case, why does FAO data indicate that the percentage of overfished and depleted fisheries have been increasing, and now represent almost 30% of fisheries globally?
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    Rebuilding fisheries: Challenges for fisheries managers
    To set the stage for the workshop, this chapter provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities related to economic and policy issues for managing domestic and international fisheries, rebuilding depressed stocks, and achieving sustainability. The nature and characteristics of domestic and international fisheries are reviewed, with emphasis on the scientific, social, economic, and policy issues associated with managing and effecting needed management approaches and policy changes to achieve sustainability.
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    Rebuilding fisheries: An overview of issues and policy approaches in the OECD
    Pressure to take strong action to rebuild depleted fish stocks has been increasing over the past couple of decades at the international, regional and national policy levels. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, governments around the world committed to an ambitious goal of rebuilding fish stocks. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation specifically requires countries to "maintain or restore stocks to levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield with the aim of achieving these goals for depleted stocks on an urgent basis and where possible not later than 2015."
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    Getting the economics and the incentives right: Instrument choices in rebuilding fisheries
    It is now generally agreed that all natural resources, including marine capture fishery resources, are properly regarded as "natural" capital. From this it follows that, when one talks about rebuilding capture fishery resources, one is talking in terms of a "natural" capital investment program. After discussing the basic economics underlying an optimal fisheries capital investment program, the chapter will go on the discuss the incentive structures that are to be in place, at both an intra-EEZ level, and at an international level, if the resource investment program is to be successful. This chapter will draw heavily upon work that the author has been doing for the FAO, in conjunction with The World Bank and FAO study: The Sunken Billions: The Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform.
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    Economic considerations and methods for evaluating fishery rebuilding strategies
    Many fish stocks throughout the world have declined to levels that are believed to reduce their sustainable yield and/or create a risk of economic or even biological collapse. Most OECD nations have legislation and regulations requiring that these "overfished" fisheries be rebuilt -- generally to the biomass levels associated with maximum sustainable yield. The timing of catch reductions and increases during rebuilding and the specific management tools used to achieve those catch targets may have substantially different impacts on the net benefits generated by the fishery during rebuilding and beyond. We discuss some key economic considerations for evaluating rebuilding strategies including how they may affect gross value and harvest costs over time. We discuss a variety of factors that often are not, but perhaps should be, considered when determining rebuilding targets and deadlines including: issues with multispecies fisheries and changes in fishery productivity that may relate to climate cycles or climate change. Finally we discuss how management strategy evaluations can be used to design rebuilding strategies that are robust to uncertainty and address economic and social, as well as biological objectives.
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    Harvest strategy policy and stock rebuilding for commonwealth fisheries in Australia
    In response to sustainability concerns the then Australian Government Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation issued a Ministerial Direction to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to recover overfished stocks, develop a world’s best practice harvest strategy policy for Commonwealth fisheries, and investigate the use of individual transferable quotas. To meet the requirements of the Ministerial Direction it was recognised that changes to management arrangements would be significant and that the benefits arising from these changes would need to be long lasting. To adjust to this new operating environment, the Australian Government announced the ‘Securing our Fishing Future’ package at the end of 2005. The package comprised a one-off structural adjustment package and a series of new management measures.
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    Managing the transition: Distributional issues of fish stock rebuilding
    Rebuilding overfished fish stocks is a challenging task with which governments have had mixed success. The time between "overfished" to "rebuilt" is a transition period managed by a rebuilding plan whose effectiveness is strongly influenced by distributional issues. Stock rebuilding is a targeted biological objective, but the process of rebuilding is an economic one that embodies allocation and distribution. Just as distributional issues influence the policy choices that lead to overfishing, they also shape the strategies employed to rebuild overfished stocks. Distributional issues are embedded in the management context, history, structures and processes of a fishery and through these, influence the identification and implementation of a rebuilding strategy.
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    Setting allowable catch levels within a stock rebuilding plan
    The essence of a stock rebuilding plan can be summarized in a harvest control rule that specifies the level of harvest that is to be permitted at each stock size over the relevant range from the current size to the target stock size, XTAR. The selection of an appropriate control rule is a policy decision based upon, among other things, tradeoffs between present and future benefits and the desired time in which to achieve XTAR. While the selection of the control rule is a critical part of building a successful SRP, the analysis here will focus on the implementation of the control rule taking into account that the information used to generate the control rule may not accurately capture the population dynamics of the fish stock, due to the limited ability to describe stock characteristics and project stock conditions. The purpose is to develop an analytical probabilistic framework to consider how the control rule harvest level can be modified to address the possible weaknesses in the construction of use of harvest control rules.
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    Information issues and constraints in the design and implementation of stock rebuilding programs
    Rebuilding programs for overexploited fish stocks are developed from identification of overfishing and depletion to the implementation of management measures to reduce fishing mortality and improve selectivity, to monitoring and adjustment of those measures based on performance. At each stage of a rebuilding program there are specific needs for scientific information and advice to guide management. Here we consider two case studies, North Sea cod and George's Bank groundfish and describe the development and implementation of their rebuilding programs and the information needs that enabled them. We conclude with a general framework for science advice for rebuilding plans.
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    Rebuilding fishery stocks in Korea: A national comprehensive approach
    Korea’s coastal and offshore fisheries have experienced reduction in their catch in the early 2000. The amount of catch from coastal and offshore fisheries dropped from 1.7 million tonnes in 1986 to 1 million tonnes in 2004. To address such catch reduction, ecosystem-based fish stock rebuilding programs have been constantly developed and implemented. However, as fish stocks have been estimated to decrease since 2000 in spite of various management measures, the Korean government has begun to genuinely acknowledge the necessity to enhance fisheries productivity through the recovery of depleted fish stock. Based on such acknowledgement, a fish stock rebuilding plan (FSRP), combined with conventional fish stock enhancement programs was established in 2005.
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    Rebuilding the stock of Norwegian spring spawning herring: Lessons learned

    Norwegian spring spawning herring is one of the largest pelagic fish stocks in the world and sustains fisheries conducted by fleets from the EU, Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Norway and Russia. The fish stock has been exploited for centuries, but its size has been subject to dramatic changes. In the late 1960s a fishing pressure, too high to what the stock could sustain, led to a collapse of the fish stock.

    The stock stayed at a low level for nearly two decades, until it once again recovered to its historical levels. This chapter gives some background information about the stock and its collapse as well as the regulatory measures adopted to facilitate the recovery of the stock. It also discusses economic consequences of improving the exploitation pattern and exploitation rate in the fishery. The chapter concludes by stating lessons learned during the rebuilding period.

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    Community-based management for sustainable fishery: Lessons from Japan
    Management of Japanese coastal fisheries is often characterized as co-management— local fishermen assume a large portion of management responsibility and self-regulate their activities while government agencies provide scientific information and legal backup. While many past studies have attributed the success of Japanese fishery comanagement to fishery cooperative associations (FCAs) and legally defined fishing rights, this chapter argues that the key to success is not these institutions per se but the functions they perform, which can be generalized to any fishery.
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    Conclusions
    There are several areas I would like to comment on to add some considerations or provide emphasis. These relate to the biology and management of stocks, the importance of the transition to stock rebuilding and my feelings with respect to the outputs of the workshop and what we have learned here in Newport.
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    Annex A: Biographies
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    Annex B: Participants List
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