Harvest strategies, also known as management procedures, are a science-based innovation in fisheries management that are akin to agreeing to the rules before playing a game. For fisheries oversight, harvest strategies shift the perspective from short-term, reactive decision-making to longer-term objectives—most typically based on the numbers or biomass of a given fish population—and agreeing in advance how the rules will shift if those thresholds are hit. 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 that involves both managers and scientists called management strategy evaluation before they are implemented.
International and domestic fishery managers around the world are developing and implementing harvest strategies, which are proved to achieve sustainable and profitable fisheries. Further, many purveyors of eco-friendly seafood now require that the fish they sell is sourced from fisheries managed with robust harvest strategies.
For more information, visit harveststrategies.org.