Harvest Strategies

The next phase of fisheries management

Harvest Strategies: The Next Phase of Fisheries Management
Tuna
A well-designed and well-tested harvest strategy, paired with an effective compliance regime, can ensure that depleted stocks fully recover and provide long-term, sustainable, and profitable fisheries.
Richard Hermann

Traditional fisheries management is a two-step process: First, scientists conduct stock assessments, and then fishery managers negotiate measures, such as catch quotas, to make sure that the resource—the targeted fish—is being used optimally and sustainably. Although this seems simple enough, the current approach has too often proved ineffective in its implementation.

An alternative approach, known as harvest strategies or management procedures, is emerging as the next innovation in fisheries management. Harvest strategies are pre-agreed frameworks for making fisheries management decisions. They are akin to agreeing to the rules before playing a game and shift the perspective from short-term, reactive decision-making to longer-term objectives. Although different management bodies name and define them slightly differently, all harvest strategies include these basic elements: management objectives; a monitoring program; indicators of the fishery’s status and population health, with associated reference points; a method to assess those indicators; and harvest control rules that set fishing opportunities, which could include catch and size limits, depending on the value of key indicators relative to the reference points. Robust harvest strategies are tested through a process called management strategy evaluation before they are implemented.

Fishing for the Future
Fishing for the Future
Article

Fishing for the Future: The Case for Harvest Strategies

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Article

Effectively managing fish stocks for the long term requires experience, science, and advance planning. Harvest strategies, an innovative approach, combines those elements and more, providing fisheries managers a clear framework for determining science-based, precautionary measures for fish stocks. Also known as management procedures, harvest strategies move managers away from yearly, and at times contentious, quota negotiations to a set of pre-agreed rules geared towards fostering long-term sustainability and profitability of fisheries.

Harvest strategies
Harvest strategies
Video

Scientist Doug Butterworth on the Benefits of Harvest Strategies

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Video

Professor Emeritus Doug Butterworth of the University of Cape Town in South Africa is one of the world’s most influential fisheries scientists. In this video, he speaks about the value of harvest strategies in fisheries management and why it is critical for tuna regional fisheries management organizations to implement these science-based management tools.

Tuna conservation
Tuna conservation
Video

Brian Jeffriess, CEO of Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association, on Harvest Strategies

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Video

Brian Jeffriess, a respected voice in the international world of bluefin tuna, serves as chief executive officer of the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association. He is well-known for his leadership on southern bluefin tuna and as an early supporter of harvest strategies as a way to rebuild and manage fish populations. A harvest strategy is a pre-agreed framework for making fisheries management decisions, including quota setting. In this video, Jeffriess discusses how cooperation on harvest strategies among industry, scientists, managers, and other stakeholders can lead to more sustainable—and profitable—tuna fisheries.

Additional Resources

States of Innovation

Harvest Strategies
Harvest Strategies
Issue Brief

Harvest Strategies: 21st Century Fisheries Management

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Issue Brief

Traditional fisheries management is a two-step process: First, scientists conduct stock assessments, and then fishery managers negotiate measures, such as quotas or time-area closures, to make sure that the resource—the targeted fish—is being used optimally and sustainably. While this seems simple enough, the current approach is anything but.