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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

The "easy restriction" syndrome drive local fish stocks to extinction: The case of the management of Swedish coastal populations

Cardinale, Massimiliano; Svenson, Anders; Hjelm, Joakim


Spatially sensitive management built on detailed biological and socio-economic knowledge is required to establish sound fishing regulations and to avoid extinction of small coastal populations of fish and shellfish. Highly productive isolated populations of several commercial species have historically inhabited the Swedish west coast, but during the past century these populations have been depleted by fisheries and with no sign of recovery. Since 1999 several fisheries regulations and different stakeholder co-management initiatives have flourished along the Swedish coast of the Skagerrak. They aimed to facilitate the recovery of collapsed local stocks but the established regulations failed to identify and restrict the main sources of mortality acting on local stocks and they have thus been ineffective to promote the recovery. Furthermore, regulations have operated on the weakest among stakeholders (e.g.. recreational fishers), which have minor influence over management, and the restrictions have been imposed without providing any data which supported the choice (i.e. the "easy restriction" syndrome). In line with the general "spirit" of recent Swedish fishery management, we conclude that managers, without the disapproval of Swedish scientists, have circumvented limitations which should address the largest mortality factor, i.e. the commercial fishery. The regulations presently in place, have been politically uncontroversial and easy to implement, but have been highly unsuccessful. We therefore suggest that stakeholders, including politicians, should start focusing on more effective and science-based management and less on what is politically attractive if Swedish citizens shall have a chance to witness the recovery of their once flourishing coastal populations.


Local populations; Swedish Skagerrak coast; The "easy restriction" syndrome; Effective management of local stocks

Published in

Marine Policy
2017, Volume: 83, pages: 179-183