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Setting Fishing Limits

Last updated: 17/06/2014

Current fisheries management systems are predominately based on Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas where a quantity of a species, usually specified in tonnes, is allocated to a country, state and/or individual operator.

This system is often complemented or replaced with an effort system, specifying the amount of activity at sea allowed, usually expressed as “days at sea” or “kilowatt days” (engine power in kilowatts, multiplied with number of fishing days at sea).

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TAC System

Total Allowable Catch means, just as indicated, the total amount of a marine species that is allowed to be caught in a specific area – however a somewhat misleading acronym in today’s EU system, where it actually means the total quantity of a species allowed to be landed.

The level is set by the Fisheries Ministers at a Council meeting, after a proposal from the Commission, in its turn based on recommendations from scientists. The TAC is then divided between countries and operators based on records of historical fishing activity. Read more.

Effort System

By limiting the amount of fishing effort, the amount of fish extracted from the ocean will be limited, and can thus be adjusted to the size of the resource.

Thus, the main difference between management systems based on TAC’s and quotas and systems based on effort, is that effort systems aim at managing the input, the level of harvesting capacity, whereas TAC and quota systems seek to manage the output, the quantity of fish that is extracted from the sea. Read more.