Integrating conservation into fisheries management

WWF advocates for integrating conservation into fisheries management, which includes reducing the impacts of fishing on marine life.

The underlying base for all our fisheries work is ecosystem-based management (EBM).

EBM aims to achieve sustainable exploitation of natural resources by balancing the social and economic needs of human communities with the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. This includes measures to minimize bycatch and damage to marine habitats.

Our work to reduce overfishing through the EBM approach includes:

  • Protecting important marine habitats from fishing: Together with artisanal and commercial fishers around the world, we are supporting the creation of no-take zones, particularly in vulnerable deep-sea areas and on coral reefs.
  • Implementing "Rights-Based Management" in tandem with EBM. RBM is a tool that basically defines the right to use fisheries resources and that has proven to halt and even reverse the global trend toward overfishing by allocating individual fishing rights to fishermen, vessels, entreprises, communities or cooperatives, incorporating environmental and social considerations. 

Rights-based management is a tool that:

  • defines the rights to use fisheries resources 
  • can be allocated individually or collectively
  • has a value and can be traded (eg. catch limits, fishing licence, quota...)
  • exist in most EU member states

Protecting important habitats from fishing

Marine protected areas and no-take zones are important tools for reducing the impact of fishing in sensitive and valuable areas.

WWF has helped create a number of such zones and areas around the world. For example, our campaigns contributed to a new zoning plan for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park that saw commercial and recreational fishing prohibited in 33% of the park.

Our work also contributed to the creation of Australia’s 65,000km2 Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve. The reserve includes deep-sea areas and is thus far the largest area in the world to be protected from commercial harvesting.

Similarly, we successfully worked for the establishment of Deep-Sea Fisheries Restricted Areas in three parts of the Mediterranean high seas. 

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