Evolution of fishing capacity in a Mediterranean fishery in the first two decades of the 21st c.
The viability of Mediterranean marine fisheries is increasingly under threat due to the low biological productivity of overexploited stocks, low economic performance of the fishing units, and offer of unattractive jobs, among other. This has resulted in a decrease of 30% in the number of fishing units active in European Union Mediterranean fisheries over the period 1995–2016. The detailed causes for this decline are investigated here based on an analysis of the entry/exit dynamics of the entire fleet having operated in Catalonia (NW Mediterranean) as a case study. The decision made by owner-operators, in terms of entering, remaining or exiting the fishery, of 1195 fishing units in the period 2000–2018 was analysed. The results show that fishing vessels have a high probability (95%) of remaining in the fishery and very low probability of entering (<1%). The exit rate was estimated at 4.5% annually, resulting in a reduction of 42% of the fleet size over the study period, from 894 active vessels at the beginning of 2000 to 518 at the end of 2018. A statistical analysis of the factors conditioning the entry/exit dynamics by means of a multinomial choice model showed that the age of the vessel, the value of landings, the amount of decommission aid offered by the local fisheries management administration and a proxy variable for fuel costs were significant explanatory variables. The study concludes that the fleet is likely to continue to shrink, without immediate stock or ecosystem conservation benefits, unless bold steps to reformulate fisheries management in the Mediterranean are taken.