Set quotas for non-targeted commercial catch
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Fishing quotas set a maximum limit on the seasonal or annual quantity of fish that can be caught by a vessel in a given area or fishery and may apply to one or more species. One such type of quota (termed individual transferable quota or ITQ) is used to restrict the overall amount of fish a fishing fleet can catch. As the name suggests, transferable quotas can be bought, sold or leased between vessels. However, another type of quota (termed individual vessel bycatch quota or ITBQ) can be implemented. Unlike ITQs, ITBQs are not transferable and put a limit on the unwanted/discarded proportion of fish a vessel can catch that isn’t retained for market (fish may not be kept for market for a variety of reasons, including the species being of no value and/or target species that are undersized or exceed the quota). They aim to reduce unwanted catches of fish by not only limiting overall fishing mortality, but by also encouraging active avoidance of unwanted catch by fishers that may have to stop fishing once their non-target quota is reached (O’Keefe et al. 2014).
O’Keefe C.E., Cadrin S.X. & Stokesbury D.E. (2014) Evaluating effectiveness of time/area closures, quotas/caps, and fleet communications to reduce fisheries bycatch. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 71, 1286–1297.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A before-and-after study in 1962–2006 of bottom fishing grounds in the northwest Pacific Ocean off British Columbia, Canada (Edinger & Baek 2015) found that in the 10 years after implementing an individual vessel quota system for unwanted catch (“bycatch”) in a multispecies groundfish fishery, the unwanted catch of Pacific halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis (a prohibited species) was reduced, but a previous quota system limiting the amount of the whole catch (individual transferrable quotas) increased halibut catch. In the period 1996–2006 following the introduction of a “bycatch” quota system for individual vessels in 1996, halibut catches fell by 219% (data reported as statistical model results). Conversely, when individual transferrable catch quotas had been implemented in 1990, it resulted in a 40% increase in unwanted halibut catches (data reported as statistical model results). Authors noted that this increase was due to individual transferrable quotas tending to only consider the conservation of a single species rather than multiple species caught at the same time. Fisheries data from the British Columbia groundfish fishery for the period 1962–2006 were analysed, provided by The International Pacific Halibut Commission and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The British Columbia Groundfish fishery implemented an individual vessel bycatch quota system in 1996 whereby trawl license holders received a quota representing a percentage of the species-specific total allowable catch.Study and other actions tested