Everything You Need to Know About Fishing Quotas!


Fishing may seem like an entertainment activity that you can be free and just regulate yourself without asking permission to anyone about anything Because when you are offshore or in a pier, no one can say something to you. Even if you are doing something wrong, it does not matter while you are fishing. If you are an individual and not trying to have an economic profit from it, there is no sense to be under control of someone or something while fishing. This is the biggest reason why people choose fishing as a sports activity in their lives. Because you can feel freer and anything you do s without charge. If you would choose to play basketball or a yardman in the sea, you could probably have some restrictions while you are doing these kinds of sports. So, it is better to be in nature without explaining. Yet, things do not work like that, and fishing is not easy at all.

In America, there are some certain rules for fishing and they are all under control of laws. Because, while you are fishing you are getting something from nature but do not replace it. And all we know that fishing is an activity that all people can do, even children. So, these reasons are enough to make the government make some laws about fishing and manage the people in terms of these rules. Because without regulations or quotas, the fishing activity can be a disaster for countries and all the marine habitat. To be able to regulate this situation, there are limits on a wide range of areas. We call these rules as Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs) also known as Individual Transferrable Quotas(ITQs).

Individual Fishing Quotas are our guidelines to follow while fishing. Additionally, fishing is not an activity that people are doing just to have fun. There is also a commercial side of the fishing and to a large extent of regulations is for the commercial effect of the fishery. For the sustainability of the American marine ecosystem and the future of the next generations, we need to know the details about fishing quotas, how they work, and what we can do more about this sustainability. So, to be acknowledged about fishing procedures and learn more about fishing quotas please keep reading!



History of The Fishing Quotas

It is good to start with the historical background of the regulations. The Netherlands was the first country that implemented fishing quotas in the world and Iceland and Canada followed the Netherlands after this realization in the late 1970s. countries after they started to manage this, they had to define the seasons for fishing. Because they have to know which fishes are more attractive in which season and what months of the year is important to catch the specific kinds of fishes.

Also, they have to know the period of the fish’s movements to determine the more detailed time frame to let the anglers fish and sometimes do not let them accomplish it. To understand why it is important to make this under control it is better to talk with data. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), more than 9.2 billion pounds of fish were taken from American waters in 2007. And if we think about the growing populations and requirement of the fish is getting more day by day, it is easy to imagine how the consumption of the fishes are getting more every year.

The polities are trying to allocate funds for this but actually, it is not enough what governments are doing. They set catching limits for commercial fishers via trying to make the balance between environmental concern and profitable industry. That is the biggest reason why this job is not easy. Because you can not just set the rules and neglect the other parts of the industry. You have to adjust the balance for commercial activities because lots of people get employment from this sector, people are having health profit from fishes and also some of the countries, a big part of the USA, is exporting the fishes to the other countries and contribute to the country’s GNP. So, to keep the balance there are quotas set by the public authorities called individual fishing quotas.



The common term for these rules is caught shares. It represents the percentage of the total allowable catch for the species and region. The limitation is expanded for the daily catches until the year-long limits. As I mentioned about the balance, there are some ways and usable data t determine the quantity of the fishes that people caught in a year and some of the limits are based on these quantities. Because, if the anglers catch one kind of fish a lot in a year, the following year is getting dangerous for this species. So, previous year data are very important for the ruler. That is why again this activity has to be under the control of the government. Basic topics that they mainly pay attention are as below:

The size of the fishes that anglers can keep,
Total number of pounds you may get
The period which is legal to fish
What fishing method that anglers use
Which fishing equipment that anglers use to catch the fishes.

How The Quotas Are Setting?

Well, it is better to mention how fishing quotas are set. There are 959 fisheries in the United States. And almost half of them do not have any idea of what their status is. Marine scientists and responsible are aware of which species are in danger, which are going to be extinct, and what species will be available to catch for the current time and they have efficient databases for this. But when the policies try to make these data usable for the governers, it is hard to put the rules and this is also making quotas slow down to come around. With the help of governing responsibilities, with the help of almost a hundred people, there were quotas set up regionally.

So, the process goes like that. The fish population data are shared annually or twice a year. The scientific part of this job is taken the information and use them to make more information and data for this sector. Results are published and the quotas are set. As I mentioned before, the fish type that anglers can catch, the time and the size are all ruled by this. Not only these but also techniques for catching fishes also important. And the council for this is also taking care of techniques. Because the way anglers catch the fishes is very important.

These rules do not only protect fishes but at the same time, they protect nature. So, they have to be sure that the way they catch is proper and safe for nature. For example, some anglers are using explosive products to get fishes from the sea. Especially in the Africa continent and some part of the American continent is still using this disrespectful and cruel way of fishing. So, governance should be worried about such kind of manners and try to stop them before it happens.



It is a good example to mention an implementation in North Europe. There is also such kind of implementations in the USA but the controls are not sufficient. So, if we go back to the controls of North Europe, anglers who are fishing under the ice layer, they have some restraints. Let’s say they have to make holes, which means break the ice layer to reach up to the water area. They can not do this without following the rules of governance. It is generally stated on the rules that how many holes that they are allowed to make. And as per hole, there are some signs given to the anglers by the government which shows the number of the holes they can make.

So, it does not matter where they are, they are generally located for away from the city center where the all the surface is covered by ice when the inspector arrives at their place, he checked the number of the holes made and after that ask for the signs which show the allowance number. So, if the angler digs more than he should do, there are big penalties for this attitude. It is good when people follow such kind of instructions while fishing. And the discipline for this is at the high level.

If you are wondering why it is so important to set the quotas for this industry, to say the industry can be enough to define it. Because fishing is a huge industry that does not show itself clearly. There are big trading developments behind the scenes and it has to be protected by the government. Because it is not only transferring in domestic areas but also can be a part of exportation processes. Because when there is something economical, people are hard to control. They want to make as much money they can with the easiest ways.

When it comes to money and economy, some rules arrange the prices of the fishes. So that one angler can not sell the same fish with way more or fewer prices. Because in the market, there has to be a regularity for the consumers to make the balance for the producers. Prices up to the season and the possibility of them catching the kind of fish in the sea. When there is a low percentage of catching, the price goes up because of the accessibility.

And also, if the season is not okay for the species but there are still some parts that anglers can find the bloomer enough fishes, in the places which sell these kinds, they have to give it almost double the price of its seasonal amount. So, all of them should be under control because the core market needs balance. So, rules will be set following the profit both for the consumer side and the seller side.



Who Do We Work With?

It is better to state exactly who we are working with about fishing quotas. Because it is our right to know as a community. We can help them either working with them in the field or we can learn about the rules and make sure other anglers are doing it by the book. NOAA is our seatmate in this travel. There are 8 regional fishery management councils and NOAA is the head responsible for them. Council members are responsible for recreational and commercial practices as well as environmental, governmental, and academic interests.

What the Council Exactly Do for Fishery?

The biggest role of the council is developing fishery plans for the feature treatments and organizations. Another duty of the council is to set public meetings. So, anglers who are doing this job as a hobby can get informed and hunt by knowing all the details. By this, they can still do your hobbies and keep protect nature. The council also must find the latest developments about setting the annual catch limits. Of course, NOAA is not the only organization. Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions (Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific States) works together with NOAA about quotas and all the other advancements for collecting the data and dominating the market. The main purpose of these councils is taking care of the resources and marine life and make it better for future generations.

What Laws Related to Fishery?

In the USA, fishery management is related to a few laws including 10 national standards which all have the same purpose as councils have, creating sustainable fishery management. And of course, they are related with the laws of USA because to keep the public order in the states and make the people follow the rules, there has to be an authority which makes people have to obey due to this situations are not individual problems, they are important for all the nations in fact for all the world. Under the laws, NOAA fishery is responsible for assuring dolphins, whales, seals, porpoises, sea lions and other species in the marine life. There is also a system established to protect sea mammals during commercial fishing. Additionally, they have a special method for the sea animals which are at the risk of extinction. Their spawning period has to be protected very specially to keep these kinds of animals alive in the marine ecosystem.



Pillar of The Fishing Management

Fishery management is conducted by scientific processes with innovation and collaboration. The science provides information to the managers to govern long term sustainability. Management is important for planning the next steps and all the interactivity between society and councils and also the government. Lastly, enforcement is using laws to ensure resources, economies, and communities. But it is not enough for us to be sure that the council or government is doing his job perfectly and be comfortable about all the habitats and marine life is under control. To be a hundred percent sure about this we need to mention stock assessments.

How Do We Know American Fisheries Management Is Well Enough?

The answer to these questions goes through scientific achievement. Scientists regularly control the stocks by monitoring fisheries. In this process, the stock assessment data are very crucial. Data are coming from commercial and recreational fishermen and also other scientific observators. The important points are knowing the past data well and comparing the current data with the previous ones about the fish population. Secondly, it is really important to know the size of the fishes stocks. So that we may know the sizes that are waiting in the sea to bo caught, and determine the rest number of the fishes.

The vision of here is the largest, long term, and sustainable yield of the fishery conditions. To keep it in this way, there are some special fields need to be the focus on such as overfishing and rebuilding processes. If the catchings are more than the maximum sustainable stock level that means the species are in danger at that term. Because we need to keep the balance for the stock equalize. In another case, if one kind in abundance and other kind is almost going to the end of its season, there has to be rebuilding actions start.

How To Be Sure That Fishermen Follow The Rules?

Special agents and enforcement officers are in charge when it comes to checking of following of the rules. NOAA Office of Law Enforcement is the main responsible for making sure all the fishermen are doing their job by the rules. When the laws are violated enforcement officers take the action for this. All they are trying to do this make fishermen acknowledge and expect that not only the fishermen but also everyone in the society should be tender when it comes to nature and protection of it. They expect to work with honest fishermen. People should not forget that this is all for the health of seafood buyers and the livelihoods of coastal communities.

According to NOAA, one of the greatest challenges facing international fisheries is illegal and unregulated fishing. This is not only affecting the fishery ecosystem but also has a great impact on the United States economy. So the government is having big deals of trying to create strengthen enforcement.

How We Can Contribute to the Seafood Industry?

  • The first thing we can do is make smart choices for seafood. We need to be acknowledged about purchasing seafood. If the place you get the fish from is not supporting the following features that means you have to rethink about going to the same place to buy fishes. If the fish does not smell like the ocean, the eye of the fish is pale or faded, the color of the fish does not seem fresh, that means this place is using wrong and unhealthy methods to get fishes. Please do not purchase these kinds of places and change your seafood market right away. While buying, make sure that seafood is properly iced and refrigerated. Also, check the prices from the NOAA website and learn what price is okay for the fish that you wish to buy.


  • Secondly, we have to educate ourselves about illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities. You need to know that fishing without a license is illegal. So the people who are fishing without a license means they are doing this activity and in the end, the result will not be able to share with the council, so it will be unreported. So, the data gathered from fishermen will be wrong and the calculations for the species will be hard to make predictions. So, you should remember that it is like a chain. When one is broken all the system can collapse. To learn more about it, you can check the 2014 Presidental Task Force.
  • Another contribution you may do is learn more about stock assessment. Because it is the baseline of this job. If your data are strong and robust, that means your protection chance is more. There is a stock assessment training supporting by NOAA for the people who are interested in work in this field. The program focus on training the next generations about stock assessments and create opportunities for evolving the skills of the people who are into this.
  • Lastly, using all the data collected by NOAA, let the society learn all the details about the latest stock assessment. Updating these data and making sure that every single person who can fish is beware of the species they can catch, aware of the sizes they can catch, and aware of the other related details they have to know while fishing.

For the prescription, please note that you can call NOAA Enforcement Hotline 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to report the violations you see and be part of this responsibility. We should always remember that protecting nature is not only councils or the government’s job. If the society is not willing to be part of this, there will be no sense to set the quotas or rules for the people and punish them after things happen. You can visit the NOAA website to get more information and see all the rights, follow all the upcoming and latest news via the website.

Savaş Ateş

When I was a kid I had a small aquarium in our home. I had different kinds of fishes. I like fishes. Then I started to research all kinds of fishes and fishing too. I read lots of books about them. I like to share my experiences.

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