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Quota the catch or quota the effort

Steve O'Shea

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In another thread:
myopsida said:
We harvest wild populations of fish and other organisms - why not carry out sustainable harvesting of whales?

A very good point (although I disagree with harvesting whales). The word that catches my eye however is 'sustainable'. This brings me to an alternative way of 'sustainably harvesting' fisheries resources.

People hail the Quota Management System [QMS] as the best way to sustainably manage fish stocks, assuming you have an accurate way to assess those fish stocks, and know the fundamental biological data about species life histories and interconnectedness with their environment. Sadly we know too little about their life histories, and almost nothing about trophic interconnectedeness.

I would like to see an alternative 'QMS' developed. We know that it is the effort (trawls, dredges, frequency) that damages the environment (sea bed and water column), and removes from the system (ecosystem) huge numbers of bycatch species that are of no commercial value and are discarded. As we pillage the environment, increasing effort to catch fewer fish, we end up doing more damage to it ('Catch Per Unit Effort' [CPUE] decreases, Total Catch may remain the same, but environmental damage increases).

Why don't we quota the effort?

Example: "The fishing industry is allowed to conduct 'x' trawls within a given area any given year, regardless of CPUE"

Comments?

How could a system like this be developed?

Myopsida?
 

cthulhu77

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That is a wonderful idea that will probably be ignored, because it actually makes sense.
I wish you were the president, Dr., I really do...trust me, these times are hard.

greg
 
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I have no idea how it could be managed, but it's a great idea. It probably woud have to be organized by an international coalition of governmental agencies and NGOs, but who woud manage and enforce it?
 
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sorseress said:
but who woud manage and enforce it?

The whales! If the CIA or whoever can train dolphins to detect/disarm bombs and assassinate people (or whatever it is that they do) then surely we can teach whales to keep an eye on us. They've got great sonar abilities to detect trawls at range and could easily communicate the data across long ranges to more inshore members to communicate to us. There, problem solved!


But seriously, is this something that the observers could be entrusted with? I'm not quite sure exactly what their duties on board are, but I believe that they are scientists who record catches and by-catch statistics and species numbers in a less biased way than the fisherpeople might. I don't believe that many countries have observer programs, but if international pressure was placed on the importance of installing them on all oceanic fishing vessels, and adding this sort of quota measuring to their duties, is that maybe a possible way. Of course, with all things, you'd have to figure out ways to keep your observers honest.

Hmmmm...interesting idea indeed. I almost want to try and suggest a mechanical counter type thing that records each time the nets are raised and lowered, but these things can be so easily tampered with that again difficulties would arise. Definitely want to put more thought into this. As usual, great idea Steve!

Cheers!
 

Steve O'Shea

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main_board said:
But seriously, is this something that the observers could be entrusted with? I'm not quite sure exactly what their duties on board are, but I believe that they are scientists who record catches and by-catch statistics and species numbers in a less biased way than the fisherpeople might.
It makes sense to have observers do this sort of work, but the problem lies in the diversity of species retained in these trawls/dredges. For instance, here are a few pics of typical bycatch (invertebrate) from a scampi trawl. Very(!!!) few scientists can identify this stuff, so the expectation that an observer without formal scientific training could do it would be a bit much. If you asked me to identify the finfish bycatch then I'd struggle (my expertise is with invertebrates only). Finding someone with skills in both invertebrate and fish identification would be a major challenge!

Anyone want to have a guess as to what these animals are? They're not the most charismatic of beasts, but they are important nevertheless.
 

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cthulhu77

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Thanks...now I have to go vomit. I am so sick of this ridiculous use of our resources.
 
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Do you have any idea what the percentages are between target fish and bycatch? I might be totally wrong, but it seems to me that those trawls would probably be bringing up more bycatch than target fish. Banning bottom trawling would seem to be the only answer. Of course, we knew that. :sad:
 
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Steve O'Shea said:
In another thread:


Assuming you have an accurate way to assess those fish stocks, and know the fundamental biological data about species life histories and interconnectedness with their environment.

BIG assumption . . given that we know very little/nothing about the basic identification of species, how can we develop databases of biological info? e.g. there are numerous "fishery" species managed by the Quota Management System which are multiple species groups because MFish cannot separate them (although in most cases the fisermen can!; (e.g. at least 2, probably 3 species taken within the "orange roughy fishery"; 4 species of seaperch; 8 flatfish species treated as one for management purposes etc etc _ at least a dozen QMA commercial fish stocks are acknowledged by MFish to comprise more than one species); even so called "well known" coastal fisheries are a problem - e.g. there is a significant fishery based on a species found in NZ's northern harbours which has been "studied" by fisheries, universities and government DSIR/CRIs in detail for the last 30 years with numerous publications - but without anybody collecting a voucher specimen to confirm the identification! The species is mis-identified and biological "information" used to manage this species is based on overseas work on a different species (in a different genus !)

Steve O'Shea said:
In another thread:

Why don't we quota the effort?

Example: "The fishing industry is allowed to conduct 'x' trawls within a given area any given year, regardless of CPUE"

Given the industry's ability to manipulate any management system I'd say "Good Luck". You'd have to take into account the flexibility for fishers to change fishing effort in response to any regulations. Compare the average trawl size in the 80s with the size of trawls today! Any control of fishing through effort must be based on CPUE: One roughy trawl today can take 30+ tonnes of fish in one trawl, limit the number of trawls allowed and they'd simply tow for twice as long, limit the number and time and they'd double the size of the nets.......

If you want to have any success in conservation/fisheries you need to work directly with those in the industry - confrontational tactics only exacerbate the issues. Ultimately fishers are concerned with conservation, (even if it is only because of the bottom line - profits). I've attended many meetings with fishermen, and others with conservationists and listened to the exact same arguements from each side, but each group uses different language and doesn't 1. realise they are saying the same thing; 2. refuses to even consider that the other side may have similar interests.

It took 10 years of discussion to get commercial fishermen to propose marine reserves in Fiordland. Without those discussions the conservationists and the industry would still be throwing insults at each other and there would be no additional reserves.
 
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sorseress said:
Do you have any idea what the percentages are between target fish and bycatch?

Orange roughy trawls are usually 98% roughy (once the benthos has been removed); at the other extreme scampi trawls are usually 98% by catch......
 
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myopsida said:
Orange roughy trawls are usually 98% roughy (once the benthos has been removed); at the other extreme scampi trawls are usually 98% by catch......
By benthos are you referring only to animal bycatch, or do you include seaweed, etc.? I'm a bit confused, admittedly a frequent state of affairs, do you mean that the total bycatch, including benthos, is only 2 %, or do you mean that after the benthos is removed, the total of finned fish bycatch is only 2 %?
 

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