Quota the catch or quota the effort

Discussion in 'The Octopus' Den' started by Steve O'Shea, Jun 18, 2006.

  1. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    In another thread:
    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?
     
  2. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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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
     
  3. sorseress

    sorseress Colossal Squid Supporter

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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?
     
  4. main_board

    main_board Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    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!
     
  5. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    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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  6. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    Thanks...now I have to go vomit. I am so sick of this ridiculous use of our resources.
     
  7. sorseress

    sorseress Colossal Squid Supporter

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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:
     
  8. myopsida

    myopsida Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    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 !)

    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.
     
  9. myopsida

    myopsida Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    Orange roughy trawls are usually 98% roughy (once the benthos has been removed); at the other extreme scampi trawls are usually 98% by catch......
     
  10. sorseress

    sorseress Colossal Squid Supporter

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    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 %?
     
  11. myopsida

    myopsida Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    Total by catch, but once the benthos has been removed - initial trawls on unfished ground may be full of benthos - some early fishing grounds are rumoured to have been 'clear-felled' by the use of ground ropes without nets before serious trawling to take the fish. Orange roughy trawls are preferrably targetted at the midwater breeding schools so as to avoid large quantities of benthos anyway (which wrecks the nets).

    Benthos includes bryozoans corals etc - as sunlight does not penetrate very far into water, Seaweeds do not occur at any depth (not sure of the maximum depth, but usually less than a few 10s of metres)
     
  12. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    I believe the Falkland Island squid fishery (Illex argentinus is managed by "effort quota". Only a certain number of vessels are allowed and they they are licensed according to gear, catching power etc foreign vessels are not admitted (although I'm sure some sneak in!).

    J
     
  13. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    Thank you Steve for this thread and discussion!

    It makes me sick to see those gravid crabs full of eggs... Is there any way to turn some of the bycatch into food? I don't know what kind of crabs those are, but are they edible? Obviously you can't eat sea stars and brittle stars, and there is probably little market for them in the aquarium industry, considering the thousands that are probably bycatch...

    I guess one of the problems with fishing on this great a scale is that it is difficult to target the one organism the fisherman are hoping for. Would it be better to focus our efforts on aquaculture or does that destroy the environment too?
     
  14. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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  15. sorseress

    sorseress Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Arizona has a large aquaculture industry, which seems weird in a desert, but they raise a lot of tilapia and freshwater shrimp, catfish and some others. One of the biggest problems with tilapia in some parts of the world is that they quickly become an invasive species if they are introduced into local waterways. They are omniverous and can devastate local environments, but if they are raised in closed systems, where they have no access to waterways they are easy to raise and will do very well on an all vegetable diet. They also grow quickly to an edible size, and because they are not top of the food chain fish (and aren't exposed to the stuff) they don't carry accumulations of mercury or other toxins in their flesh. For all of those reasons, plus the fact that no bottom trawling is necessary to catch them, they have become our fish of choice. They are pretty bland, but can be cooked to be very tasty if you are at all inventive. They don't taste as good as wild Alaskan salmon, but they are good. We had quit eating lots of fish species because they are threatened, or the fishing methods are devastating to the environment, or because of the toxins in the meat were problematic, but those I will eat, as well as farm raised catfish, and farm raised freshwater shrimp. Only rarely will we eat anything else.
     
  16. sorseress

    sorseress Colossal Squid Supporter

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  17. main_board

    main_board Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    I guess I didn't mean to focus on the difficulties in species identification for the observers, cause I know that its not an easy job. I just wanted to clarify what their current role was on boats. I still think that they'd be able to take accurate notes on how many, when, and how long trawls were made, but myopsida has a good point about fisher-people adapting with larger nets. If they started trawling longer, the observers would be able to note that but I'm not sure how much control they would have over net size.

    Out of curiousity, how many countries have an observer-type program?

    Maybe more effort needs to be put into working with the fisher-people to help them understand how to fish sustainably. Though I still think this is only worth while in other fisheries, as trawling is just too destructive and should be banned out right.

    Is the Falkland Fishery more successful? or is anything know yet on the impact effort quotas has on the stocks compared to regular management?

    Cheers!
     
  18. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    I think the main problem here is that for some odd reason, people still think that there is something as imaginable as a "sustainable fishery"...there isn't
    We have overfished the livestock of this planet, to the point where there is little chance that our children will ever be able to eat fish...the mercury content of most predatory fish is unsafe by any standard, the bulk of the bottom dwellers are nearing extinction.
    Game over, set and match point.

    greg
     
  19. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Interesting; stuff I'd not considered.

    Obviously you would have to refine the definition of effort. Perhaps it could become a measure of bottom-contactable area, rather than unit effort (measured in duration or number of tows).
     
  20. Cephkid

    Cephkid Sepia elegans Supporter

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    It would never work- too convienent and reasonable (also makes too much sense). My example: in the US, people used to have clean, good, healthy water flowing to their houses. Then the cities decided "let's not clean the water so much, we'll save money; and with that money, we can go to the supermarket- and buy water..."
    People seem to have something against smart ideas...:hmm:
     

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