Table of Contents

  • Many fisheries around the world are characterised by excessive fishing effort, low productivity and inadequate profitability. Considerable benefits can be made from rebuilding such fisheries. This publication analyses the issues and challenges governments face as they develop and implement plans to rebuild fisheries. The focus is on the economic and institutional issues and builds on evidence from OECD fisheries.

  • Rebuilding fisheries is an urgent task which is high on the international policy agenda. The OECD Committee for Fisheries decided to contribute to rebuilding efforts by providing an analysis of the main policy issues and challenges. The focus is on “rebuilding fisheries”, which is a broader approach than “rebuilding fish stocks” and encompasses the social, economic and environmental dimensions of fisheries. The outcome of this project is a set of principles and guidelines that can assist policy makers in their efforts to make fisheries successful. These principles and guidelines aim to ensure that rebuilding plans are examples of good governance which implies inclusiveness, empowerment, transparency, and flexibility underpinned by predictable rules and processes.

  • From a biological, environmental and socio-economic perspective, many of the world’s fisheries are in poor condition. Rebuilding and managing fisheries in a biologically and environmentally sustainable way can bring considerable social and economic benefits. Policy makers are therefore pressed to rebuild fisheries. A rebuilding plan begins with evaluating the state of the fishery including the environmental and socio-economic situation. The next steps include setting feasible rebuilding goals, deciding on mechanisms to achieve them, monitoring progress, and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the fishery once rebuilt. Special attention must be given to risk and uncertainty in rebuilding plans. In this regard, applying risk evaluation and communication of risks to stakeholders is important. Policy makers have many management tools to rebuild fisheries. The tools used will depend on the specific characteristic of each fishery; in all cases, however, a mix of tools is needed to successfully rebuild a fishery.

  • These case studies seek to identify the factors underlying the outcomes – successful or not – of various rebuilding plans and efforts. They cover many different fisheries both at the national and international levels and there are a set of common lessons to be learned. These include the importance of integrating economics early in the rebuilding design process as various social and economic aspects may hinder or help in the execution of the plan. This also underlines the importance of stakeholder involvement in designing the plans. If stakeholders are strongly opposed, the chances of success are low. Incremental approaches can be helpful, especially in situations where this is much uncertainty and little reliable data. The case study material also shows that monitoring and enforcement are necessary in order to deliver successful outcomes. Rebuilding international fisheries calls for joint and co-ordinated efforts of all countries involved in the fishery.

  • This analysis is based on an inventory of national and international policies that guide rebuilding programmes. The inventory provides a comprehensive overview of rebuilding policies and helps in sharing information on different policy frameworks and approaches. The analysis highlights the challenges in managing international fisheries and provides valuable insights for policy makers. The role of stakeholders is of central importance. Coherence across legislative provisions and policy tools is essential, especially as it builds trust among stakeholders. Incoherence across policies applied in the fisheries sector undermines policy objectives and is counterproductive. In the same way, it is important to plan early in a post-rebuilding management strategy as this will provide certainty for stakeholders. Furthermore, transition mechanisms, including flanking measures, may be needed to obtain and maintain support for necessary reforms.

  • This study shows that rebuilding fisheries often calls for reforms in fisheries policies and sometimes a change in the fisheries management framework. Previous OECD work has provided avenues for successful reforms, including the necessity to obtain stakeholders agreement on the status of the fishery and the objectives of the rebuilding plan. Stakeholder involvement is crucial as they may provide important inputs into the reform process; for example, by providing information about risks and uncertainties. The objectives of the reforms must be realistic and attainable. If not, the reforms will lack credibility and result in a low chance of success. OECD work shows that rights-based fisheries management measures have often been successful in rebuilding fisheries. Such rights can create the incentives for stakeholders to have vested interests in rebuilding fisheries.