Fisheries management as we know it today is in a perpetual state of crisis because it is fatally flawed. Fisheries management will increasingly fail to prevent species decline, and even exacerbate those declines, unless it adopts new institutional priorities and methodologies based not on the prevalent “Industrial Model,” which is driven primarily by economic utility, but instead based on the “Biological Model,” which is primarily driven by the whole range of species’ biological needs, including limits placed by interactions with other species and by the ecosystem’s carrying capacity at each stage of a species’s lifecycle. In other words, fisheries managers – including fisheries economists – must stop just managing fishermen and learn to manage fish ecosystems by thinking more like biologists than economists. To do this, concepts such as “efficient use” and “optimization” of the resource must now be legally redefined primarily in biological and ecosystem conservation terms, and fisheries management agencies must adopt the tools of conservation biology, including investing far more heavily in the basic biological monitoring that makes such management possible. Failure to make these changes will simply lead to more stock crashes, unnecessary and probably fatal stresses on fishing-dependent communities, and ultimately extinction of whole species.
Spain, G. Rethinking Fisheries Management: Why Fisheries Management Fails. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.