Managing Fish: Ten Case Studies from Canada's Pacific Coast

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Headlines about fisheries fiascos in Canada are nothing new: economic and conservation woes plague the historically most important fisheries, salmon on the west coast and cod on the east coast. What have not made the headlines however, are management changes that have saved many of Canada's smaller fisheries such as halibut, sablefish, and sea cucumber.

In these fisheries, desperation forced fisheries managers and fishermen to make a radical change in management to a system of individual quotas (IQs), in which shares of the catch are granted to the fishermen before they go out in their boats. Allocating individual fishermen a share of the catch through IQs has transformed management in these fisheries. Prior to the change, many fisheries were decribed by fishermen as shotgun fisheries, characterized by short openings, supply gluts, harvests exceeding allowable catches, and unsafe fishing conditions.

Today, many of these fisheries are considered models of sustainability, profitability, and safety. One of the most striking things about the introduction of individual quotas is how it can change license holders' attitudes: as one fisherman put it, I am a custodian of my fishery, not a miner of resources.

This book details the use, and evaluates the effectiveness, of individual quotas in ten fisheries on Canada's Pacific coast. The lesson for those fisheries still in a perpetual state of near crisis is clear.

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