Real-time spatial management approaches to reduce bycatch and discards: Experiences from Europe and the United States

Alyson S. Little*, Coby L. Needle, Ray Hilborn, Daniel S. Holland, C. Tara Marshall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial management measures are currently being used to manage bycatch and discards, given the spatial heterogeneity of fish distributions. However, permanent fishing closures are often poorly implemented, unresponsive to stock dynamics and do not achieve their management objectives. Recently, real-time spatial management tools for managing bycatch and discards implemented under either a comanagement or self-governance approach have been introduced in Europe and the US. Real-time catch and discard information is shared among fishers to incentivise and encourage vessels to leave areas of high bycatch. Here, the similarities and differences, in governance, implementation and management of ten real-time spatial management systems from across Europe and the US are reviewed. A framework is developed to characterize the attributes associated with voluntary, private and regulatory real-time spatial management tools. Challenges and management practices in the different case studies are reviewed providing insights for designing these spatial management tools. The results illustrate that real-time spatial management approaches can create incentives for fishers to develop, use and share information and technology to avoid undesired catch. Compared with Europe, the US has developed spatial management tools with more truly real-time mechanisms and with greater involvement of the fishing industry in designing and operating the tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-602
Number of pages27
JournalFish and Fisheries
Issue number4
Early online date18 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Bycatch
  • Discarding
  • Fisheries
  • Real-time closures
  • Risk pool agreements
  • Spatial management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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