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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Does fisheries management incentivize non-compliance? Estimated misreporting in the Swedish Baltic Sea pelagic fishery based on commercial fishing effort

Hentati-Sundberg, J.; Hjelm, J.; Osterblom, H.


Fisheries management agencies and fishing industry representatives depend on reliable estimates of fish biomass and mortality for the determination of sustainable catch levels. Lack of data or misreporting maybe reasons for unreliable stock assessment, which, in turn, mayresult in advice that does not reflect the availability of fisheries resources. It has been suggested that the mixed pelagic trawl fisheries in the Baltic represent a case of biased estimates of fish biomass and mortality resulting from misreporting. Here, we estimate the degree of misreporting in the Swedish pelagic fishery (1996-2009) and propose an approach for reconstructing historical catches based on commercial effort data. The analysis suggests that total catches have been underestimated during part of our study period and that systematic misreporting of species composition has taken place over the whole study period. The analysis also suggests that there is overcapacity in the fishery and that such economic incentive could explain the general patterns of misreporting. Applying our method for fisheries with suspected misreporting could significantly improve assessment accuracy, reduce uncertainty and thereby allow for a better link between catches and resource levels.


Baltic Sea; herring; incentives; misreporting; non-compliance; reconstruction; sprat; stock assessment

Published in

ICES Journal of Marine Science
2014, Volume: 71, number: 7, pages: 1846-1853