Fisheries management World wide is facing multiple crises. In ecological terms, as some stocks are not in good shape despite management effort; in economic terms as a large part of the fleets are not profitable and in social terms as fishing communities are, as a result of diminishing fishing activities, losing identity and losing legitimacy as public criticism on fisheries practices is increasing. Moreover, one could say that there is a managerial crisis in fisheries management as it fails to reach its goals and lacks legitimacy and accountability.
This thesis uses a governance perspective to analyse these crises in fisheries management. It looks at how the crisis in fisheries management emerged, how it is dealt with by the introduction of new innovative management initiatives and institutional arrangements and how these new institutional arrangements relate to the current debate on the future of fisheries governance.
In order to analyse innovations in fisheries management, the Netherlands presents a useful case. Over the past decades an array of innovations (ITQs: Individual Transferable Quota; a system of co-management and in recent years the introduction of covenants between state, industry and Environmental NGOs) have been introduced in Dutch fisheries management. Within Europe the Dutch fisheries management system has since the 1990s been regarded as a best-practice model. In addition, the Dutch fleet is one of the main players in the North sea. From a global perspective the North Sea is one of the areas were human impact is highest.
In addition we will look at innovations in the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) such as the introduction of Regional Advisory Councils and the introduction of specific marine environmental legislation, such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and the initiative of the Maritime Policy to seek integration over activities and actors in the marine environment.
In order to analyse these innovations in fisheries management I have looked at the fisheries governance and the (changing) role of state, market and society. The most prominent factor to look at is how participation of the different actors in the policy process is changing. This is related to which actors can participate in the policy process and to what extent these actors can participate. Part of analysing (new) institutional arrangements will be looking at the outcome of the process: does the (new) arrangement reach its objectives? Next to the direct output of a policy and for example rule compliance this can also relate to aspects of legitimacy and accountability.
The central questions in this research are the following: noting the steering deficit in past fisheries management, which new institutional arrangements have been developed to cope with the deficit in fisheries management, how and why did these new arrangements emerge, what have been the results and how do these new institutional arrangements relate to the current debate on a sustainable future fisheries governance? Centre of attention is the development of fisheries governance in the Netherlands since the introduction of the EU Common Fisheries Policy in 1983, in particular on the institutions in Dutch fisheries management, and how these institutions developed over the past decades as examples of new policy arrangements and the change of a former neo-corporatist system. The data for the analysis were obtained through extensive observations and interviews with the major players from the fishing communities, fisheries organisations, fishers, RAC members, Dutch and EU policy makers and the NGO community.
The introduction of Individual Transferable Quota (ITQs) in the Netherlands occurred in the early 1990s. In 1975, Total Allowable Catches (TACs) were introduced in the North Atlantic, and hence the North Sea, for several spe-cies of fish. Dutch government responded by setting up a system of non tradable Individual Quota (IQ) for the fishermen. In a reaction to the grow-ing informal trade of these IQs over time, the Ministry responsible for Fisheries officially allowed the trade of IQs hence creating ITQs in 1985.
With the introduction of ITQs a management instrument was introduced which simultaneously functioned as an environmental instrument (limiting catches), and as an economic instrument (seeking optimal allocation of fishing capacity over fishing opportunities). From the perspective of the individual fisher the introduction of the ITQ system resulted in individual quota holdings being brought in line with the fishing capacity of the vessel and provided a right that can be exerted and defended and can be used as a collateral. As fishermen manage their quota uptake in groups the Dutch system is a mix of individual and collective management of catch rights.
As a result of the introduction of the ITQ system (embedded in the co-management system which was introduced during the same period) the number of vessels and fishing pressure was reduced and compliance with catch restrictions increased. The ecological objective of reduction of fishing pressure and fishing within set TAC levels was obtained. Most likely because the ITQs were managed in fishers’ groups, accumulation of quota and communities losing catch rights had been very limited. However the ITQ system has not resulted in a long term economic healthy cutter fleet.
The introduction of the ITQs had an effect on fisheries management as the allocation of catch rights became subject to market forces where earlier government had allocated the rights. The industry participates in the system by exerting its market force; the Dutch ITQ system created private rights to access to fish and a market for these access rights where one did not exist before.
The second case, the introduction of the co-management system, can be perceived as an attempt by the Dutch government to increase the legitimacy of the management system and compliance by devolving management responsibility to the sector through the establishment of partnerships. By the end of the 1980’s a growing political concern about the non-compliance with the quota regulations, introduced in the mid 1970s, evolved. Until the late 1980s fishermen were able to dodge regulations due to a weak monitoring and enforcement policy; low fines for violations; and logistical and administrative help from the auctions. In order to regain legitimacy of the fisheries policy, negotiations between the fishers and fisheries managers on the establishment of co-management groups were devised. The aim of the management groups was twofold: first, to arrive at an effective and efficient system of quota compliance that would be supported by the fishers; secondly, to improve economic performance within the quota restrictions.
The introduction of the Dutch co-management system clearly played a role in increasing compliance with the quota management system. By inclusion of the fishers into the management system and founding the system on social control and peer pressure, the legitimacy of the system is increased. Also a shift is noticed in the drivers for compliance, from compliance as an economic calculation of gains and sanctions towards a more normative approach emphasising the social normative values of the fishers.
The introduction of the co-management system in the Netherlands has brought about a change in the basic governance fabric of fisheries management by devolving part of management responsibilities from government to user-groups. However the core of the system is not a joint management of fish stocks but a decentralised effort of monitoring quota uptake and keeping landings in line with set Total Allowable Catch (TAC): a situation of co-enforcement.
The use of covenants presents case 3. This, like the co-management system, centres on a system of devolved management. But where co-management is founded on cooperation between state and the industry in managing a fisheries, covenants usually are based on a specific voluntary agreement between two or three of the actors of state, market and civic society (NGOs). Covenants are frequently used to obtain environmental objectives, especially when government policy fails to obtain results. Also covenants are applied as instrument in a pacification attempt of government and effort to mobilise support for policy.
In the Netherlands we have seen the emergence of three covenants. The first, the management of engine capacity, in fact is an extension of the co-management system. Despite engine capacity regulations, a seal plan (in which engines were sealed at a certain capacity) and increased inspections during the 1990 and early 2000s, government did not manage to enforce the engine capacity rules and increase compliance. A working group was established which designed a private arrangement consisting of a framework of private inspections and sanctions to which the sector signed up. The agreement played a role in opening up a dead lock situa-tion in which individuals are only inclined to change conduct when free rider behaviour is no longer tolerated. The groups manage their engine capacity, while government has the final responsibility for compliance.
In 2006 a Task Force Sustainable North Sea fisheries, established by the Ministry, consisting of representatives of the Ministry, the Fish Produce Board, fisheries sector and market organisations, Environmental NGOs, research institutions and fuelled by direct input from fishermen through a series of discussions, produced a report pinpointing the major challenges to reach sustainable fisheries on the North Sea. An important motive for the establishment of this task force was the rapid increase in oil price. This seriously affected the viability of the fleet, which was already confronted with diminishing catch opportunities for a prolonged period of time. A covenant was signed in June 2008 (the North Sea Covenant) between the Ministry, two Environmental NGOs, the Fish Produce Board and the 5 Fisheries Producers’ Organisations to facilitate the required transition process towards sustainable fisheries. Whereas the engine capacity agreement is a bilateral state-industry agreement, the North Sea Covenant is a tripartite arrangement between state, industry and ENGOs. It aims at a policy to obtain a viable and sustainable fisheries sector within the boundaries of a healthy ecosystem, bringing environmental concerns and economic concerns together in an implementation plan. By entering the agreement the sector gains time, political support and resources to embark on a transition process towards more sustainable operations. From a societal perspective the covenant brings ENGOs and industry together to discuss environmental concerns and reach agreement on a process of change towards more sustainable fisheries. For the state the covenant creates leeway for industry to become sustainable in an environmental and economic sense, yet simultaneously creates a sense of urgency to make this transition.
The mussel covenant was a tool to open up a dead lock situation in which a transition towards sustainable production was hindered by the stalemate caused by the ‘War on the Wadden Sea” between the industry and ENGOs. The annual permit given to mussel fishers’ allowing them to fish for mussel seed in the Wadden Sea (A protected area) was every year challenged in court by the ENGOs. The judicial procedures frustrated further development and threatened the viability of the mussel sector. Government took a leading role in resolving this deadlock situation by orchestrating the coming about of a covenant between sector and ENGOs. The conservationists promised not to start any judicial procedure provided the mussel sector would do everything in its power to convert seed fishing and mussel cultivation into an environmental-friendly industry by 2020. The mussel covenant is the most clear example of using the instrument for conflict regulation.
So far, the engine capacity covenant is perceived to be successful with no infringements and vessels having adjusted engine capacity. The North Sea covenant has facilitated a process of transition and an array of initiatives e.g. under the Fisheries Innovation Platform (subsidies for development of new fishing technology (pulse trawl, reduction of fuel consumption), im-proved marketing initiatives and sharing of knowledge among fishers) have been launched to support this process. The mussel covenant is put under pressure from parties not being signatory by contesting the agreement in court.
In all cases we see a repositioning of the state in relation to the actors from industry and society. The covenants are a manifestation of government negotiating fisheries policy in order to obtain a more sustainable use of marine resources. The degree of self-management differs between the three covenants. In the North Sea covenant, the parties have quite some opportunity to (re)define policy goals, whereas under the engine capacity the policy objectives are not renegotiated at all; in the end the industry will comply with prior existing regulation.
Finally, case 4 looks at the development over the past decade of new EU marine policies such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Maritime Policy. Both policies aim at governing the marine environment, yet the two policies have a differing signature in policy formulation and implementation. From a fisher’s perspective these policies present a change in institutional setting in terms of integration as well as participation. Major policy measures no longer descend from the EU Common Fisheries Policy alone, but increasingly are derived from general environmental policy developments.
In a governance era contrasting policies can be developed simultaneously. The Maritime Policy is a novel, participatory and integrative arrangement. The Marine Strategic Framework Directive developed more or less in the same period, has a more classical etatist command and control arrange-ment. The position of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in a new marine policy arrangement is changing. The introduction of the EU Community Fisheries Control Agency, a top down government type solution, existing side by side with the Dutch state-market partnership, illustrates the possible co-existence of different policy arrangements. The EU Community Fisheries Control Agency can play a role in establishing participatory management arrangements at a wider EU scale by providing an enabling environment in which such sub-national and national arrangements can be developed. On the other hand it can play a role by taking up the role of enforcement agent at a distance, sharing this role with the national en-forcement agencies.
From the case studies we see that the common denominator in the new institutional arrangements is an increase in participation of stakeholders in the policy process. In addition at the EU level the integration over activities and stakeholders is a main trend. Hence government responds to a crisis in fisheries management by searching for and allowing more participation. But this participation has at least two different objectives: to improve the implementation of environmental policy and, with participation beyond fishermen, to increase legitimacy and support of fishery policy.
The traditional neo-corporatist arrangement in which fisheries policy was developed and implemented originally changed dramatically as the rank and file of the fisheries organisations did not comply with the management rules agreed between their representative elite and gov-ernment. The privileged relation between government and sector was further challenged by other actors (ENGOs) that also claimed a stake in particular in the environmental concerns of fisheries management. When the closed neo-corporatist relation between fisheries representatives and government was no longer capable of devising a policy supported by the industry, new ways of cooperation and legitimacy had to be invented.
With increased involvement of stakeholders in fisheries management the legitimacy and accountability of actors in the arrangement also changes. The traditional right to fish, granted by government to the industry, is replaced by a ‘licence to produce’ that the fishing sector has to obtain in negotiation with state and ENGOs. This affects the accountability in the arrangement and on the ‘burden of proof’ by shifting responsibility from government and society showing harmful impact, towards the industry having to show sustainable resource use. Also the forum at which to be accountable to shifts, from fishers being accountable to government (compliance with the rules) and government being accountable to society, towards a situation in which the fishers are directly accountable to the parties involved in the agreement (covenant).
The solutions chosen in the Netherlands are not specifically Dutch. As one of the main failures of contemporary fishers management, in particular in the EU, is perceived to be lack of participation, the Dutch solutions could be examples applicable to other countries as well. However, in doing so one should render count of the specific national, regional and local settings, political and institutional traditions in which fisheries management takes place.
Marine policy becomes less sectoral and more integrated over sectors and activities changing the constituency of (fisheries) policy including an in-creased number of stakeholders. In taken these new developments and perspectives into account the new institutional arrangements introduced in the Netherlands were mostly answers to the fisheries management problems of the past. They were hardly designed to address the new challenges and management demands that are now starting to shape the policy agenda of the future common marine policy.
There are three main areas to address in a future fisheries governance. One will be answering the questions of organising participation: who can participate, who makes the rules and who decides. The second area is that of globalisation, in terms of fishing, processing and trade and regulation. Thirdly, as fisheries governance is changing, the role of science and the role of scientists has to equally be changed from scientific advise supporting (government) policy development towards co-working with a wider group of stakeholders.