Evaluating effectiveness of time/area closures, quotas/caps, and fleet communications to reduce fisheries bycatch

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Designing effective bycatch mitigation programmes requires an understanding of the life histories of target and non-target species, interactions of fish and fishing gear, effects of spatial and temporal shifts in fishing effort, socio-economic impacts to the fishery, and incentives of fishery participants. The effects of mitigation measures (including fishing gear modification, time/area closures, bycatch quotas and caps, incentive programs, and fleet communication programs) have been evaluated with respect to reducing bycatch and discards. Less attention has been focused on evaluating unanticipated results related to shifts in fishing effort, changes in the size of non-target species caught, reduced catch of target species, and economic viability to fishing fleets. Time/area closures, bycatch quotas/caps, and fleet communication programmes were evaluated against a set of criteria to assess overall effectiveness in reducing bycatch without causing unintended biological and socio-economic impacts. The results suggest that wide-ranging studies of species' life histories, potential changes in fleet behaviour, and individual incentives are important for developing and implementing mitigation programmes. Combining a suite of mitigation techniques has been successful in meeting biological and socio-economic fisheries goals. Additionally, collaborative programmes that utilize the skill sets of fishers, scientists, and managers have increased effectiveness in meeting bycatch reduction objectives.

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