Unsuitability of TAC management within an ecosystem approach to fisheries: An ecological perspective

H. Reiss, S.P.R. Greenstreet, L. Robinson, S. Ehrich, L.L. Jorgensen, G.J. Piet, W.J. Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Fisheries management in European waters is gradually moving from a single-species perspective towards a more holistic ecosystem approach to management (EAM), acknowledging the need to take all ecosystem components into account. Prerequisite within an EAM is the need for management processes that directly influence the ecological effects of fishing, such as the mortality of target and non-target species. Up until recently, placing limits on the quantities of fish that can be landed, through the imposition of annual total allowable catches (TACs) for the target species, has been the principal management mechanism employed. However, pressure on non-target components of marine ecosystems is more closely linked to prevailing levels of fishing activity, so only if TACs are closely related to subsequent fishing effort will TAC management serve to control the broader ecosystem impacts of fishing. We show that in the mixed fisheries that characterise the North Sea, the linkage between variation in TAC and the resulting fishing effort is in fact generally weak. Reliance solely on TACs to regulate fishing activity is therefore unlikely to mitigate the impacts of fishing on non-target species. Consequently, we conclude that the relationship between TACs and effort is insufficient for TACs to be used as the principal management tool within an EAM. The implications, and some alternatives, for fisheries management are discussed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • marine protected areas
  • sea fish community
  • north-sea
  • mixed fisheries
  • sustainable use
  • catch rates
  • indicators
  • resources
  • fleet
  • simulation


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