“Catch Shares” Save Fish Populations–and the Fishing Industry

Dear EarthTalk: What are “catch shares” as a strategy for rescuing fish populations that are on the brink?—Peter Parmalee, New Orleans

The term “Catch shares”—also called Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPPs)—refers to a fisheries management technique whereby individual fishermen, cooperatives or fishing communities are guaranteed a certain percentage of the overall “Total Allowable Catch” (TAC) for a certain fish species (or “fish stock”) in a given area. Catch shares are typically implemented to protect established fishermen’s livelihoods during efforts to scale back commercial harvesting of overfished species.

“Fishermen are usually allowed to buy and sell shares in order to maximize their profit,” reports the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a leading green group that has worked extensively with fishermen and the six regional fishery management councils on aligning business and conservation goals. “This helps drive the fishery to an efficient level and rewards innovative fishermen who can lower costs and deliver a quality product that will fetch a good price on the market.” Also, EDF points out that under a catch shares system, fishermen have a real investment in sustainability: If the population of the species goes up in subsequent years, the amount of fish guaranteed to each fisherman increases accordingly.

Read the full article here http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=catch-shares-for-saving-fish-populations