To achieve these goals, the spatial and temporal scales at which the institutional structures operate should better match those of important processes that affect fisheries. Participation in management should be extended to all parties with significant interests in the marine ecosystems that contain exploited marine organisms. Effective and equitable management requires clear and explicit goals and objectives.

Socioeconomic Incentives

Because many current socioeconomic incentive systems often encourage or lead through excess capacity to overfishing, it is essential to modify them. The committee concludes that appropriate socioeconomic incentives will be based on clearer definitions and assignments of exclusive (transferable) rights and responsibilities to government, virtual communities, individual entrepreneurs, geographical communities, and other entities. The exclusive rights include individual transferable quotas (ITQs or IFQs), community-development quotas (CDQs), and various approaches to community management. Most of these approaches are fairly new, at least in their implementation, and not enough experience has been gained to make categorical recommendations about them. Also, it is clear that different approaches will be more or less effective in different situations, so an adaptive approach is essential.

The committee concludes that in most cases rights-based approaches are preferable to traditional open-access fishery-management systems, despite the difficulties sometimes associated with them. In particular, the committee recommends experimental approaches to the development of virtual communities (as described in Chapter 5). This would include the experimental establishment of management groups in which participation is based on whether the parties share an interest in the fishery and its associated habitat, with less emphasis than normal given to where they live or their direct financial interest.

Information Needs

This report has described many areas of scientific uncertainty. Those areas include "traditional" fishery science and management, the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems, and social and economic determinants and consequences of fishers' behavior and management programs. Therefore, the committee recommends research in the following areas:

  • Understanding marine ecosystems. One approach that seems likely to be productive is an effort to understand mechanisms at lower levels of organization (i.e., populations and communities).
  • Long-term data sets obtained through long-term research and monitoring programs are essential bases for adaptive management. The information needs and prospects described in Chapter 5 reflect the areas that the committee considers to be of the greatest importance.


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