Catch-quota balancing mechanisms in the Icelandic multi-species demersal fishery: Are all species equal?

Pamela J. Woods, Caroline Bouchard, Daniel S. Holland, André E. Punt, Guðrun Marteinsdóttir


In this study, utilization of catch-quota balancing mechanisms in the Icelandic demersal fishery, which allow for individual transferable quota to be transformed among species and transferred between years, is analyzed to determine whether annual catches closely adhere to total allowable catches on average. Icelandic landings data for 14 demersal fish species during 2001–2013 are compared to implemented total allowable catches as well as catch limits recommended by the Marine Research Institute (MRI) and a proxy for annual market values. Landings surpassed legal limits of total allowable catch in 27% of the cases (landings by species by fishing year), mostly due to species transformations, but TAC overages were not consistent for any species. Instead, catches of some species were consistently less than legal limits, with some indications that landings were related to profitability (i.e. landings were correlated with market value). However, landings surpassed MRI recommendations in 67% of the cases, and landings of four species (Atlantic wolffish, haddock, monkfish and redfish) consistently exceeded MRI recommendations. Therefore, discrepancies between scientific recommendations for catch limits and quotas selected through the political process may represent a higher risk to long-term sustainability than catch-quota balancing mechanisms.


Keywords: Catch-quota balancing mechanisms; Species transformations; Between-year quota transfers; Individual transferable quotas; Icelandic fisheries management; Total allowable catch




Published in: Marine Policy, Volume 55, May 2015, Pages 1–10



Published Feb. 27, 2015 11:16 AM - Last modified Feb. 27, 2015 11:16 AM