Catch-Quota Balancing Regulations in Icelandic Multi-Species Demersal Fishery: Are Some Species Disadvantaged?

Monday, August 18, 2014
Exhibit Hall 400AB (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Caroline Bouchard , Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, MARICE, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
Pamela J. Woods , School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington
Dan Holland , Conservation Biology, NOAA NWFSC, Seattle, WA
André E. Punt , School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Guðrun Marteinsdóttir , MARICE, University of Iceland
Several catch-quota balancing regulations are currently employed in the Icelandic multi-species demersal fishery. Two of those mechanisms, between-year transfers and species transformations (in which quota for one species can be transformed into quota of another species at specified market-based conversion rates, “cod equivalents”) can result in some species being consistently fished over the total allowable catch (TAC). This study aims at determining whether Icelandic catch-quota balancing mechanisms have created systematic overfishing in the last thirteen years. Data from the Icelandic Directorate of Fisheries for fourteen demersal species were used in the analyses. In 27% of the cases (species in a fishing year), landings surpassed the TAC, mostly because of species transformation. Although no systematic overfishing was detected over the time period studied, some observed patterns may have biological significance. When comparing landings with TACs recommended by the Marine Research Institute (RTAC), catches surpassed RTACs in 67% of the cases and systematic overfishing occurred in four of the species (haddock, monkfish, redfish and wolffish). Discrepancies between recommended TACs and TACs allowed by the Ministry of Fisheries may hence represent a higher risk to long-term sustainability than catch-quota balancing mechanisms.