Changes in fishing behaviour of two fleets under fully documented catch quota management: Same rules, different outcomes
A Dutch pilot study of fully documented fisheries provided the opportunity to observe actual changes in fishing behaviour under catch quota management (CQM). Interviews with fishers in the pilot study aided in interpreting the results and giving insight in the decision making process and reasoning of fishers. The CQM pilot study entailed a fleet of small and large demersal vessels. For these vessels, all cod catches were counted against quota, including catches of individuals below minimum landings size. To obtain reliable catch data all vessels were equipped with electronic monitoring (EM) systems. These systems recorded videos of all fishing and processing activities on board. In return, fishers received a 30% quota bonus for cod and were compensated with more flexibility on effort regulations. It was hypothesized that vessels in the CQM will (i) increase their landings by 30% according to their quota bonus, (ii) increase the use of gear with large mesh size, and (iii) change effort towards fishing locations with high catch rates of large cod and avoid areas with high catch rates of undersized cod. The results showed that CQM had no effect on fishing behaviour of the small vessels. In contrast, large vessels significantly increased their cod landings (216%) and avoided undersized cod. This difference in response of different fleets suggested that implementation of CQM, for instance in the context of the European Common Fisheries Policy, should consider fleet characteristics. It seemed that larger vessels in this study more easily adapted their behaviour to new management regimes and that the quota bonus opened up new fishing strategies, that were not envisaged during the implementation.
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