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Journal Articles Fish and Fisheries Year : 2016

Minimizing the impact of fishing

R. Froese
  • Function : Author
H. Winker
  • Function : Author
Didier D. Gascuel
U. R. Sumaila
  • Function : Author
Daniel Pauly
  • Function : Author


Minimizing the impact of fishing is an explicit goal in international agreements as well as in regional directives and national laws. To assist in practical implementation, three simple rules for fisheries management are proposed in this study: 1) take less than nature by ensuring that mortality caused by fishing is less than the natural rate of mortality; 2) maintain population sizes above half of natural abundance, at levels where populations are still likely to be able to fulfil their ecosystem functions as prey or predator; and 3) let fish grow and reproduce, by adjusting the size at first capture such that the mean length in the catch equals the length where the biomass of an unexploited cohort would be maximum (L-opt). For rule 3), the basic equations describing growth in age-structured populations are re-examined and a new optimum length for first capture (L-cₒpt) is established. For a given rate of fishing mortality, L-cₒpt keeps catch and profit near their theoretical optima while maintaining large population sizes. Application of the three rules would not only minimize the impact of fishing on commercial species, it may also achieve several goals of ecosystem-based fisheries management, such as rebuilding the biomass of prey and predator species in the system and reducing collateral impact of fishing, because with more fish in the water, shorter duration of gear deployment is needed for a given catch. The study also addresses typical criticisms of these common sense rules for fisheries management.

Dates and versions

hal-01558434 , version 1 (07-07-2017)



R. Froese, H. Winker, Didier D. Gascuel, U. R. Sumaila, Daniel Pauly. Minimizing the impact of fishing. Fish and Fisheries, 2016, 17 (3), pp.785-802. ⟨10.1111/faf.12146⟩. ⟨hal-01558434⟩
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