Sustainable Fisheries

Special Collection

Worldwide, small-scale coastal fisheries contribute significantly to providing food, employment, and incomes to many very poor people. But these same fisheries, and the ecosystems upon which they rely, are under increasing threat from a combination of climate change, pollution, over-fishing, and the exploitation of resources.


Fisheries management has been a major component in trying to address some of these issues, but with limited global success. The potential of fisheries, if managed well, is considerable but what form that potential will take will depend on how and why fisheries are managed.


This collection of reports and presentations explores just this question, describing some of the challenges faced by small-scale fisheries worldwide and their efforts to address these challenges and improve the health and well-being of the people who are dependent on these threatened environments.


The collection brings together the "grey literature" of the field, valuable work that is not readily available through academic journals and databases but is instead spread across dozens of organizational websites. This set of reports was initially identified as part of a synthesis review of key lessons commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation's Program on Oceans and Fisheries. We are pleased to make it more easily available for others to use and build on and encourage researchers and practitioners to add relevant work to the collection.

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Catch Shares in Action: Alaska Halibut and Sablefish Fixed Gear Individual Fishing Quota Program

January 1, 2013

The Alaska Halibut and Sablefish Fixed Gear Individual Fishing Quota Program (IFQ Program) was one of the first to include a variety of design elements to meet key social goals while also contributing to decreasing overcapitalization and increasing the value of the fishery. Some of the key design elements include low concentration limits, restrictions on trading, strict shareholder eligibility requirements and more. The program also allocates a percentage of the shares to the Community Development Quota (CDQ) program, which includes 65 eligible communities organized into six groups and was designed to ensure fishing access, support economic development, alleviate poverty, and provide economic and social benefits to residents of western Alaska communities (North Pacific Fishery Management Council, n.d, A).

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: Japanese Common Fishing Rights System

January 1, 2013

The Japanese Common Fishing Rights System is a comprehensive catch share program that manages the nearshore fisheries along Japan's vast coastline by allocating secure areas, or Territorial Use Rights for Fishing (TURFs), to harvesting Cooperatives. The system has evolved over time and is a model for managing mobile nearshore species through a network of scaled Cooperatives. The program depends upon a coordinated system of co-management, including nested layers of governance from the federal level down to the regional level. The program design has promoted innovative approaches -- especially by fishermen -- including coordination within and across TURFs (and Cooperatives), and pooling of harvesting arrangements to improve economic efficiency and resource sustainability.

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: United States Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program

January 1, 2013

The Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Crab Rationalization Program (the Rationalization Program) was designed to improve resource conservation, operating efficiency and fishermen's safety while maintaining participation by remote communities. A number of important features account for the diverse natures of stakeholders and the fishery's historical importance to many communities. These include: a unique three-pie approach that defines and assigns different types of privileges to vessel owners, crew and processors; an industry-funded, government-operated loan program to assist new entrants and crew; and voluntary Cooperatives that assist in program administration and fishing coordination.

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: United States Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Non-Pollock (Amendment 80) Cooperative Program

January 1, 2013

The Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Non-Pollock (Amendment 80) Cooperative Program was one of the first catch share programs designed and implemented to manage fishing interactions with a non-target species. The goals of the program were largely focused on reducing bycatch to enable the fleet to achieve higher retention of groundfish resources. In this program, participants were incentivized to form Cooperatives to receive exclusive access privileges. Key design elements for this program include eligibility requirements, government-approved Cooperative formation, concentration caps, trading restrictions and sideboards, which are catch limits that restrict the transfer of excess fishing capacity to other fisheries not managed under catch shares.

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: United States Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Cooperative Program

January 1, 2013

The United States Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Cooperative Program was implemented to address economic instability in Kodiak, Alaska, caused by an intense race to fish, fleet overcapitalization, shrinking seasons and timing conflicts with other fisheries. The program is designed to protect historical fishing communities and jobs by extending secure fishing privileges to eligible Cooperatives in tandem with associated delivery restrictions to processors. Key design elements for this program include shareholder eligibility requirements, Cooperative formation, concentration caps, delivery restrictions, prohibition of discards, and sideboard limits, which are catch limits that keep rockfish participants from exceeding their historical levels of participation in other fisheries during the month of July.

Rights and Legal Frameworks