Fishermen catch fish from fish stocks, which generally have a high, but not unlimited, reproductive capacity. If fishing is not controlled, stocks may collapse or fishing may cease to be economically viable. It is in everyone's interest to have a fisheries management system in place to
- safeguard stock reproduction for high long-term yield
- lay the foundations for a profitable industry
- share out fishing opportunities fairly, and
- conserve marine resources
The principal aim of fisheries management under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is to ensure high long-term fishing yields for all stocks by 2015 where possible, and at the latest by 2020. This is referred to as maximum sustainable yield. Another increasingly important aim is to reduce unwanted catches and wasteful practices to the minimum or avoid them altogether, through the gradual introduction of a landing obligation. Lastly, the new CFP has overhauled its rules and management structure, with regionalisation and more extensive stakeholder consultation.
Fisheries management can take the form of input control, output control, or a combination of both. Input controls include:
- rules on access to waters – to control which vessels have access to which waters and areas
- fishing effort controls – to limit fishing capacity and vessel usage
- technical measures - to regulate gear usage and where and when fishermen can fish
Output controls mainly consist of limiting the amount of fish from a particular fishery, in particular through total allowable catches (see TACs and quotas).
The Common Fisheries Policy increasingly has recourse to multi-annual plans which often combine different management tools.