THE BLOG
09/28/2012 12:55 pm ET Updated Nov 28, 2012

New Study: Catch Shares Can Conserve Fish and Fishing Jobs

The world's fish stocks can be rebuilt to provide more nourishment and economic value to the millions of people who rely on the ocean for food -- if we step up now and make aligning these incentives a global priority.

The magazine Science has published a study that provides new insights into thousands of fisheries where scientific data has not been historically available. This groundbreaking study lead by Chris Costello, PhD shows that "data poor" fisheries make up a majority of the world's catch, around 80 percent. According to this new research, many of these fisheries are facing collapse, but there is still time to turn the situation around. The study indicates that it is possible for fisheries to recover globally, which would increase the abundance of fish in the ocean by 56 percent and in some fisheries' yields could more than double.

With these new assessments, fishery managers and world leaders can have a more comprehensive view of the status of our global fisheries. There are many new insights into previously unmeasured fisheries, using new methodology that can have enormous implications for managing the resource sustainably.

The report also provides some hope and insights on how the world can reverse these trends.

This study published in Science is part of a larger work called "Charting a Course to Sustainable Fisheries," released this week by California Environmental Associates. In it, there is evidence that the rights based management programs, like catch shares, implemented in the United States have been working. Part of the report analyzes progress in U.S. fisheries and shows that solid, science-based catch limits along with rights based management and other measures have been effective in addressing the problems of overfishing.

Amanda Leland, the VP of Oceans at Environmental Defense issued the following remarks on this groundbreaking piece of research which she hopes will help NGOs, governments and others invested in preserving ocean resources, scale up tools such as catch shares and TURF reserves to a global scale.

"This study is a blueprint for recovering the world's ocean fish populations. Five years ago I would have been terrified to read this report, but today I have hope that we can turn fisheries around and confidence that we can do it.

It may seem counter-intuitive for an environmentalist to say this, but what we've learned is that giving fishermen a stake in protecting the oceans is by far the most effective away to turn declining fisheries around."

The lead author, Chris Costello has done a number of studies on catch shares and rights based management. A link to this most recent study is not available yet, but one of my favorite studies that he did is--"Can Catch Shares Prevent Fisheries Collapse" . I will give you a hint, the answer is yes, in fact the study suggest that well-designed catch shares may prevent fishery collapse across diverse taxa and ecosystems and if they were fully implemented globally the percent collapsed fisheries is reduced to just 9% by 2003. This would be a BIG improvement form where we are today.