Harvest Strategies

The next phase of fisheries management

Harvest Strategies
A school of bluefin tuna swimming.
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

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.

School of yellowfin tuna, Revillagigedo Archipelago, Tamaulipas, Mexico
School of yellowfin tuna, Revillagigedo Archipelago, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Harvest Strategies Toolkit

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Harvest strategies are an approach to fisheries management under which managers and stakeholders agree in advance to adjust catch limits and other measures based on size of the fish population.

Tuna
Tuna

Global Fishing Stakeholders Call for Harvest Strategies

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Effective long-term management of the world’s fish stocks requires science, stakeholder engagement and advanced planning. An innovative approach known as harvest strategies combines those elements, providing fisheries managers a science-based framework for determining precautionary measures for fish stocks.

Additional Resources

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Agenda for America

Resources for federal, state, and local decision-makers

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Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for emerging challenges, it makes government more effective and better able to serve the public interest.

Management Strategy Evaluation
Management Strategy Evaluation
Article

New Fisheries Management Method Benefits Industry and Ocean Health

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Article

Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) are increasingly developing and adopting a modernized system of management known as harvest strategies. This approach shifts managers’ focus from short-term quota-setting to a set of pre-agreed rules designed to achieve longer-term objectives, such as maximizing both catch and the likelihood of achieving and maintaining a healthy stock.

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.