Fleet dynamics and behavior:lessons for fisheries management

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Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

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NRC Research Press


University of Cape Town

We review fleet dynamics and fishermen behavior from an economic and sociological basis in developing fisheries, in mature fisheries near full exploitation, and in senescent fisheries that are overexploited and overcapitalized. In all cases, fishing fleets behave rationally within the imposed regulatory structures. Successful, generalist fishermen who take risks often pioneer developing fisheries. At this stage, regulations and subsidies tend to encourage excessive entry and investments, creating the potential for serial depletion. In mature fisheries, regulations often restrict season length, vessel and gear types, fishing areas, and fleet size, causing or exacerbating the race for fish and excessive investment, and are typically unsuccessful except when combined with dedicated access privileges (e.g., territorial rights, individual quotas). In senescent fisheries, vessel buyback programs must account for the fishing power of individuals and their vessels. Subsidies should be avoided as they prolong the transition towards alternative employment. Fisheries managers need to create individual incentives that align fleet dynamics and fishermen behavior with the intended societal goals. These incentives can be created both through management systems like dedicated access privileges and through market forces.