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: Argentine Individual Transferable Quota Program

January 1, 2013

The Argentine Individual Transferable Quota Program manages four of the country's most commercially important species by allocating quota to individual vessels under a single catch share program. Program goals focus on long-term stock conservation, the maximization of domestic employment and the promotion of social stability. As distinct fleets target each species, managers have incorporated special design features within the program to meet each fishery's needs. Quota set-asides give managers the flexibility to address fishery-specific social and biological goals, while the multi-criteria allocation process incentivizes investment in the domestic economy and compliance with fishing regulations.

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: British Columbia Integrated Groundfish Program

January 1, 2013

The British Columbia Integrated Groundfish Program (Integrated Program) is one of the most comprehensive catch share programs in the world. The multi-species program includes over 70 species, 30 of which are managed via quota, and includes all commercial fishermen targeting groundfish, regardless of gear type. The program includes a number of innovative design features such as quota set-asides, which are meant to encourage community development and incentivize positive treatment of crew. Additionally, the program requires 100% individual accountability of all catch and uses an innovative monitoring and catch accounting system to support accountability.

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: Chilean National Benthic Resources Territorial Use Rights for Fishing Program

January 1, 2013

Among the largest area-based catch share programs in the world, the Chilean National Benthic Resources Territorial Use Rights for Fishing Program (TURF Program) includes over 17,000 artisanal fishermen comanaging over 550 distinct areas along the coast. The voluntary system primarily manages loco, Chile's most valuable mollusc, and provides secure access to benthic resources to groups of artisanal fishermen. Management is built on science performed by universities and consultants, resulting in co-management by the government, industry and the private sector.

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: Danish Pelagic and Demersal Individual Transferable Quota Programs

January 1, 2013

The Danish Pelagic and Demersal Individual Transferable Quota Programs (ITQ Programs) include a number of thoughtful design decisions in order to meet the programs' goals, including promoting economic growth in the fisheries sector by balancing the capacity of the fishing fleet with the available resource, and addressing social concerns. Important features of the catch share program include quota set-asides for small vessels and new entrants; Fishpools, which promote cooperation and coordination among participants; and programs to reduce discards. Denmark's catch share programs demonstrate how innovative design features can be used to promote social goals within a system introduced for economic and biological reasons.

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: Mexican Baja California FEDECOOP Benthic Species Territorial Use Rights for Fishing System

January 1, 2013

The Baja California Regional Federation of Fishing Cooperative Societies (FEDECOOP) is a groupallocated, area-based catch share, or Territorial Use Rights for Fishing (TURF), program. FEDECOOP consists of 13 fishing Cooperatives that collectively manage 10 TURFs to promote sustainable harvests, increase market access and power and provide stability to fishermen and fishing communities. The catch share program is a model for coordination across multiple Cooperatives and TURFs to achieve fishery goals. Key design features include voluntary no-take reserves to increase productivity and protect vulnerable fish species and the evolution of FEDECOOP to coordinate activities and provide services to multiple Cooperatives and TURFs.

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: Mexican Vigía Chico Cooperative Spiny Lobster Territorial Use Rights for Fishing Program

January 1, 2013

The Mexican Pescadores de Vigía Chico Cooperative is a group-allocated, area-based catch share that manages the Punta Allen spiny lobster fishery. The catch share, or Territorial Use Rights for Fishing (TURF) program, includes a number of special design features to achieve goals set by the Mexican government and the Cooperative, including sustainable harvests and Cooperative self-sufficiency and self-governance. Important design features include a secure tenure length of 20 years with a strong assumption of renewal, clearly defined co-management responsibilities between the federal government and the Cooperative and the use of individual fishing zones developed by the Cooperative to maintain member accountability (Solares-Leal and Alvarez-Gil, 2003).

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: Peruvian Anchoveta Northern-Central Stock Individual Vessel Quota Program

January 1, 2013

The Peruvian Anchoveta Northern-Central Stock Individual Vessel Quota Program is a catch share program that manages the largest volume fishery in the world. The goals of the program were focused on the economic improvement of the fishery through reduction of fleet capacity and lengthening of the fishing season. Additional biological and social goals were identified and seen as vital to ensure program success. Key design elements include restrictions on transferability to help limit consolidation and an industrysponsored social fund to assist with crew retirement and labor transition. To reflect the short-lived nature of anchoveta, management is structured into two fishing seasons per year. Each year, a five million metric ton reserve of anchoveta biomass is set aside to promote long term stock health.

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: Samoan Safata District Customary User Rights Program

January 1, 2013

The Samoan Customary User Rights System is an area-based catch share program that formalizes the customary fishing rights of native communities. Authorized by legislative reforms, fishing communities voluntarily establish and manage Territorial Use Rights for Fishing (TURFs) in traditional fishing areas. The program has been designed to meet the goals of sustainable resource use and empowering villages in fishery management. Key design features include the active participation of the Samoan government in guiding the creation and management of TURFs and the integration of traditional management practices to achieve sustainability. In Safata District, community members have established a district-wide TURF with a network of no-take reserves to increase biological performance and sustain local livelihoods into the future.

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: Spanish Galicia Goose Barnacle Cofradía System

January 1, 2013

The Spanish Galicia Goose Barnacle Cofradía System was implemented to manage the highly lucrative goose barnacle fishery. Program goals were focused on reducing overfishing and restoring profitability. The program codified traditional fishing guilds, known as cofradías , as co-managers by granting them secure and exclusive privileges to harvest goose barnacles within clearly defined fishing areas and requiring them to responsibly manage the resource. A key program innovation is the use of on-site fisheries ecologists to conduct scientific monitoring, set appropriate mortality controls and adaptively manage mortality controls within season to ensure sustainable goose barnacle populations.

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