Overfishing is a major problem in global fisheries, plaguing 32% of stocks around the world and a massive 72% in the EU. Despite this, access to public fish resources in the EU and its member states are granted without any social or environmental conditions. Without these, the process of allocating quotas – essentially determining the future health of marine resources and the fishing industry – is blind to virtually all of the impacts of fisheries. Here, the United Kingdom's North Sea cod fishery is studied, comparing the social, environmental and economic impacts of trawlers and gillnets, the two major fishing gears targeting cod in this area. Comparisons are also made on a vessel-length basis to address recent debate concerning the benefits of small-scale fisheries. The results show that, for each tonne of cod landed in these fisheries, all trawlers have impacts that are more costly than the value of their landings. There are also vessel length-specific differences, with the largest trawlers the most destructive (−£1992/tonne and −£2.50/fish). Gillnets, on the other hand, generate positive value to society (+£865/tonne and +£2.16/fish). Despite these impacts, gillnets land only 1% as much cod as trawlers do. The results support the policy implementation of access criteria into the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, to ensure fishermen generate positive outcomes for society and to provide incentives that align fishermen's interests with conservation objectives.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.