specific fishery. To reduce and monitor fishing capacity there is a need for better information about capacity, including fleet size, type of ships and gear, ownership, and status of operation. Reductions in the capacity of a specific fishing fleet should not be allowed to result in capacity increases in other fisheries, either national or international. Whether downsizing should favor small vessels over large ones, or one gear type over another, should be evaluated on a fishery-by-fishery basis. Simple buy-back programs have often been ineffective and even counterproductive in the past when large amounts of money have been spent to buy out the least efficient vessels. If there are no incentives to reduce fishing power further, the remaining individuals may invest additional capital and increase overall fleet capacity.

Marine Protected Areas

Marine protected areas—where fishing is prohibited—have been effective in protecting and rebuilding populations of many (but not all) marine species. They often increase the numbers of fish and other species in nearby waters. Fishery-management agencies in the United States have often approached this option by closing areas to fishing for considerable periods. These and other experiences in the United States and elsewhere lead the committee to recommend the establishment of permanent marine protected areas in appropriate locations adjacent to all U.S. coasts.

It is important that productive areas—that is, areas in which fishing is good or once was—be protected for this management approach to have the greatest effectiveness. This is because the productive areas have greater potential for rebuilding than less-productive areas. To be effective, protected areas should be established for species whose behavior depends to some degree on structure—that is, species that live, breed, feed, or take shelter on or around the topography of the coast or the bottom of the ocean. They will be most effective for species whose entire life cycle is spent in association with structure or whose juveniles are largely confined to the protected area. Wholly or largely pelagic species move according to ocean currents and thus are likely to benefit less than other species from fixed protected areas.

The design and implementation of marine protected areas should involve fishers so that they believe the resulting systems will protect their long-term interests as well. Involvement of fishers will also provide operational integrity. Attempts to develop marine protected areas in the United States have been strongly opposed by some fishers, so this is a key strategy.

Marine protected areas that allow certain types of catches or other uses (e.g., multiple-use management zones) may serve as an initial step in creating more exclusive reserves. Multi-use zones are often used as a way to allocate an available ocean area to allow for varying levels of use and to maximize synergies among uses while keeping those activities that may interfere with one another separate.

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