How long can fisheries management delay action?

Fishing limits and responding to climate change

Managing fished species to ensure fisheries are sustainable in the long-term requires constant updating of catch limits. But there are often delays between receiving scientific advice to lower catch limits and the actual implementation of those limits. Of course, fishers want to keep short-term catches as high as possible to maximise profitability. But how long can management afford to delay before the fishery experiences catastrophic declines? This is particularly
relevant at the moment with climate change causing some fish species to decline. It’s believed that adapting to climate change may require rapid reductions in catch limits.

Along with colleagues, I used a simple model to show that delays in acting on scientific advice can exacerbate declines of fish impacted by climate change (Brown et al. 2012). Eventually, this can lead to the economic collapse of the fishery. However, management can accommodate the impacts of climate change on fisheries by responding quickly to changes in fish population size, without needing detailed knowledge on climate change impacts…

 

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