Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No zero TACs - nice Try!

Porbeagle caught as bycatch - source.

Read this, once again posted on SYM.

Prima vista, it's a good, rational proposition.
Discards are an abomination and should be abolished - but of course what is intellectually unequivocal becomes extremely intractable once it needs to be translated into concrete management measures, like in the present case. 

The problem?
Given the chance, fishermen will cheat - that's one of the corollaries of the Tragedy of the Commons!
Need I elaborate?

So, let's examine this proposal.
It hinges on several assumptions that actually make total sense.

1. Bycatch is unavoidable.

Yes we can greatly reduce bycatch by applying adequate mitigation measures, and kudos to the fishing industry on having identified some in point 4 - which begs the question, are they already being implemented, maybe, gasp, voluntarily?
But yes, some residual bycatch is inevitable.
  • Most Shark bycatch comes up alive and should be released alive, whilst in the water as it will likely be killed if hauled up on deck, if only for reasons of convenience and safety.
  • If the retention of bycatch is allowed in general, the fishermen will cheat and establish a targeted fishery and then declare their haul to have been bycatch.
  • If the fishermen are allowed to retain and sell only dead bycatch, they will cheat and find ways of ensuring that the Sharks come up dead, e.g. by extending soak time.
  • All of the above can only be prevented by 100% coverage of (incorruptible) observers, which is extremely cumbersome and expensive - or would the fishermen be willing to foot those costs?
2. The data about Bycatch are valuable for managing the Fishery.

Correct once again!
But of course, the answer to that is to oblige the fishermen to record those data and/or land any specimen that would be required for analysis.

3. Spurdog and Porbeagle are Food that should not be thrown away.

So what about actually obliging them to land and then, to donate those dead bycaught Sharks - either to the public or to the fishing authorities that could sell them in order to use the proceeds to implement better management measures.!
Betcha that if the fishermen were forced to reserve hold space for uneconomic cargo, bycatch rates would drop like a stone! :)

How about that for a workable solution!
Or am I once again missing something here?

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