Regulations for the reduction of discards in the Icelandic multi-species demersal fishery: how can they go wrong?



Pamela J. Woods, The Science Institute, University of Iceland



In this presentation, I explore regulatory mechanisms that are intended to reduce the incentive to discard in the Icelandic multispecies demersal fishery, which has a discard ban in place. These regulations include species transformation provisions and real-time area closures, two mechanisms that deal with the problem of bycatch in very different ways. Species transformation provisions used in fisheries management systems allow fishers to convert quota of one species to that of another species at on prescribed conversion rates. These provisions, alongside other a catch-quota balancing mechanisms, are meant to aid fishers in matching available quota to actual catch, so that bycatch is utilized instead of discarded. Real-time area closures are a spatial management measure that allows regions to be closed temporarily during a period of high bycatch, thereby incentivizing the avoidance of bycatch. In the first part of the presentation, results from a bioeconomic model are presented to examine how species transformation provisions affect long-term sustainability and profitability of a multi-species fishery, given that fishers have a short-term view to maximize their profit within each fishing year. Parameterization of the model is based loosely on Icelandic demersal fisheries management, which currently employs one of the broadest implementations of species transformations. To represent fisher behavior in each year, effort is allocated among species or métiers such that total profit for that year is maximized. In the second part of the presentation, I describe plans to analyze the conditions under which real-time area closures can be a useful tool for discard reduction. Finally, we weigh the benefits and drawbacks of species transformation systems and real-time area closures as strategies for adaptation of fisheries to operate under a discard band and under global climate change.