[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
It’s fairly well known that fish stocks are collapsing around the world. But there’s a management method that appears to offer long-term environmental and economic success, according to a study published September 19th in the journal Science. It’s called catch shares, and it works like this. Each fishermen—or fishing cooperative— receives a percentage of the total catch. Scientists determine the catch for the year. And the fisherman is guaranteed his fixed percentage, year after year. He thus has a direct financial stake in the future of the fishery.
The researchers evaluated data for more than 11,000 fisheries. Less than 1 percent had implemented catch shares. But in addition to higher incomes for fishermen, those systems had half as many collapses as other fisheries. And researchers think that number will improve further, because the catch shares may have been only recently implemented. Catch shares have been around for awhile, but they’ve been slow to catch on. One reason has been a lack of data on whether they do any good in the long run. With this study, maybe that will change. That’s a good thing for the fishermen, the consumer and especially the fish.