During the age of 'uncontrolled' fisheries, national fleets roamed between fishing grounds in international waters, while territorial waters and national fishery limits were 3-12 miles. Only after in the mid nineteen seventies the 200-mile EEZ fishery limits had become common, national management could be experimented with. It was a common believe that the fishing pressure had to be reduced in order to allow the fish grow bigger so more could be harvested - later. This was based on mathematical calculations. Short to say, this has been a total failure, almost everywhere stocks declined, more reductions were imposed, leading to less catch and so on and on.
To the left: Good friends in front of Stormont Castle in Belfast 2005. Menakhem Ben-Yami, left, and Jon Kristjansson
I wrote together with Menakhem Ben -Yami, "A Proposal for an Alternative Fisheries Management Regime in the Irish Sea".
This was to identify the failures with the existing system, especially with regard to the science, lack of data and methodology used.
This paper is a textbook in managmenent methods and why they always fail....
2009 December. ITQ discussion in Poland
Originally ITQ's were originally intended to be a tool to manage fisheries. This has failed totally as regards demersal (bottom dwelling) fish stocks and other mixed fisheries. Later it has become a tool to manage "ownership", money and access to the fisheries.
In Poland there is an organ, Fisheries Round Table, to discuss and bridge the gap between fishermen, scientists and NGO's. They had their third session 10. December 2009, in Gdynia Poland. I was invited to describe the result of Icelandic ITQ and give briefings on the DAS system that has been used in Faroe Islands for 13 years. In my presentation I chose to combine the result of the management of the fish stocks, and the effects the ITQ system itself has had on the Icelandic community.
My presentation in Poland on Icelandic management and experience of the ITQ system. (This presentation is now updated to be valid in 2017)
2009 October. Report from WWW and Sea Fisheries Institute in Gdynia Poland.
This is on Socio-economic consequences of fleet capacity reduction programmes in the Baltic Sea, and bears the cynical name: Less boats - more fish? The report does not even try to answer the title, in fact there is nothing in it on fish or fish stocks, not even catch figures.
.." adapting the Baltic fleet to the available resources" .. and .." is neither effective from the point of view of the program's cost nor for the reduction of the cod effort"... is about everything mentioned about fish.
This is very strange, it seams to be given that the fishing pressure is to high and fewer boats will give more total catch - later.
This has never happened, nowhere. Reduced fishing effort has always lead to less harvest and poor state of fish stocks - everywhere.
2010 April. After my visit to Poland in December (see above) I was interested in the state of the Baltic Cod stock, as all the managment was focused on Cod. The stock is considered over fished by ICES and the Polish science branch and the measure is " to adapt the Baltic fleet to the available resources" .
One of the most important parameter to consider is the growth of the fish as in an overfished population the individuals are small but fast growing. At the other end of the spectrum, underfished population, individuals are small but slow growing, often old with stagnated growth. Size at maturity is another important parameter, so is the condition factor and liver index (size of the fuel tank).
In the ICES advice report there is nothing on this. But is says that "weight at age" data are unavailable because the age of the fish can't be determined from the otholiths!
I obtained some scale samples from Poland and found that it was possible to age fish from scales. The results indicated that the "problem" as regards the Cod stock is not over fishing, rather is it under fishing, or selective fishing, resulting growth stagnation.
Here is my Report on Ageing of Baltic Cod.
2012 July: Latest news from the Baltic. Pleas refer to the above link on the Baltic Cod. ICES has announced that even though the Cod stock is increasing, the quota for the coming year has to be reduces by 11%. As they say, the cod is now so thin that there are more fish to the tonne, and as the advice is based on fish numbers and the quota in kilos the quota has to be reduced! The cod is very slim because of food shortage they claim.
Needless to say this is contrary to common ecological knowledge, and every farmer knows that if he is short of food for whatever reasons, he would not buy more animals in the hope that some would survive the hunger period. But - when it comes to fish, all common sense is thrown away.
- In the Baltic Cod case, they should increase the catches to improve growth and reduce hunger (natural) mortality.
2018 January. The Cod stock in the Baltic is now in total mess. Fish are getting smaller and bigger fish above 40 cm are rare. Fish are thin and starving. Quotas have been reduced and selectivity increased to avoid catches of small fish. Even total ban on trawling has been suggested. Will they ever learn?
The situation at present is that all cod fishery has been banned in the Baltic Sea. Fish are very thin and full of parasites, mostly seal worms. Scientists regard the cod situation as a seal problem. They do not know that heavy burden of parasites is a result of overpopulation;
The individuals are pressed to eat still smaller food items, that is copepodes, which are carriers of the seal worm larves. Larger food items, normal cod food, have been eaten up.
This overpopulation problem has been hidden for the fishermen because mesh sizes are far to large to catch the small fish.