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The rise and decline of blue whiting fisheries--capacity expansion and future regulations

By Dag Standal


While most commercial fisheries in the North Atlantic are strictly regulated through total allowable quotas, licenses and vessel quotas to limit the catch rates, the fishing for blue whiting represents an exception. Today, the blue whiting fishery is out of control; catch rates far exceed what the management authorities propose for a sustainable fishery and there is a real danger for collapse of the stock. The driving force in this development refers to the fact that the coastal states that are involved in the blue whiting fisheries, are not able to agree on the distribution of the migrating blue whiting stock. In Norway, the strong increase in both catch capacity and catch rates, also refers to a liberalization of the institutional framework for the renewal and design of new vessels, but also to structural politics concerning the ocean-going fishing vessels. This article presents the management conflict within the international fisheries for blue whiting and the driving forces behind the capacity increase in the Norwegian blue whiting fleet. However, a future agreement among the coastal nations within the framework of a sustainable fishery, inefficient overcapacity emerges when total quotas and allocation are put on the agenda. This results in allocation conflicts at different management levels that prevent a future solution. The question now is whether regional management organizations like the NEAFC (North East Atlantic Fisheries Committee) should have a more prominent position in the management of resources that migrate through the different coastal states' economic zones.Blue whiting Capacity expansion Fisheries management

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