Allocating individual quotas could save many fisheries, study says
Retooling the way fisheries are managed could be the key to their long-term health, according to a new study published in the journal Science. Typical fisheries have mostly relied on a free-for-all style of management where scientists determine the overall allowable catch and then fishers go out and compete with each other to try to catch as much as they can as quickly as they can before an overall quota is met or exceeded in a given season. However, the study suggests that might not be the best way to keep fisheries healthy. Instead, it recommends a system of long-term individual quotas for each fisherperson that guarantees them access to a certain percentage of the aquatic bounty. “Under open access, you have a free-for-all race to fish, which ultimately leads to collapse,” said Christopher Costello of the University of California at Santa Barbara. “But when you allocate shares of the catch, then there is an incentive to protect it.” According to the study, allocating individual shares cuts in half the likelihood that a given fishery will collapse, especially if catch limits are set at responsible levels.