Catch Share Programs – An Effective Way to Managing Fish Stock

What is Catch Share?  Simply put, it is an innovative approach to help fish and fishermen rebuild, recover and renew.
The Catch Share Program works on the following principles:
  • Managers set a scientifically determined catch.
  • The privilege to harvest a given percentage of the catch limit is granted to an individual, a group,or a community.
  • Fishermen are held accountable for fishing only their given percentage in exchange for this secure access to the fishery.
Fisherman with net
Implementation of Catch Share Programs:
According to the European Commission in 2008 they changed the European Common Fisheries Policy to include a “Catch Share Program.”  The Catch Share Program replaces complex rules dictating how fishing will be practiced, holding fishermen directly accountable for meeting vital conservation targets.  Under the Catch Share Program, fishermen, (including individuals or in cooperatives) are granted a percentage share of the total allowable catch.  They are given territorial rights to a particular fishing zone.  The only condition is to the number of fish caught, allowing more flexibility to fish when market conditions are at their best. Their share grows in value as the overall fishery improves, providing them a greater financial stake in sound resource management. By instituting the incentive to protect the stock, it also reduces the collapse of fisheries.
The Alaskan Halibut Fisheries are a good example of how the Catch Share Program can revitalize fisheries.  Prior to 1995, the season had shrunk so low as to only allowing about 3 days a year for fishing.  With only three days to catch all the Alaskan Halibut, the waters were overcrowded with boats and overloading their boats to the point of hazardous conditions.  After the Catch Share Program was implemented, the season now last eight months, and fishermen can better store and manage their catch, and are seeing improved profits.
Taking into account what has been accomplished by the Alaskan Halibut Fisheries, I think it is possible to regulate, while improving fisheries, and sustaining a healthy profit.