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Nordic experience of fisheries management

Seen in relation to the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy

image of Nordic experience of fisheries management

The waters surrounding the Nordic countries are rich in fish resources. Up to this date fisheries has been among the most important productive sectors in the Nordic economies, and in the Faroe Islands and Greenland it is by far the most important sector. Management of marine fisheries has over time had various objectives in the Nordic countries, ranging from fiscal and social purposes to stock conservation and socio-economic well-being in recent years. There are strong similarities between the Nordic countries, but differences in ecosystem and the socio-cultural settings of the fisheries have lead to differentiated management systems anyhow. The purpose of this note is to bring Nordic experience into the discussion of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. The discussion takes as its point of departure the so-called Green Paper in which the Commission has summarised the status of the EU fisheries and also put themes and questions up for discussion. The themes and cases of this note address issues which feature prominently in the Green Paper: reduction of over-capacity by establishing rights-based management systems, increase of the responsibility of the industry through development of co-management arrangements, and reduction of the discard of fish.

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Nordic experience of reduction of discards

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization discards are the portions of fish catches that are thrown back into the sea. Discarding can have many reasons, wrong catch, wrong sizes, damaged catch, no quota or high grading. High grading means that less valuable catch or sizes are discarded in favour of bigger or more valuable fish. Discarding is a problem when the organisms returned to the sea are dead or not able to survive, because it represents both a biomass removed from the sea that is not taken into account in stock estimates and a reduction in potential future value of the discard. Discard of fish and organisms that are in a healthy condition and that are likely to survive is not regarded as a problem and is either allowed or even mandatory in some cases (for example sharks, whales, turtles) in countries with general discard bans. In this note, it is the problematic discard that is in focus.

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