Globally, 75%% of fish stocks are fully exploited or overexploited, and fishing pressure continues to threaten marine ecosystems and the cultures and economies that depend on them. Decades of government regulation have largely failed to stem the ecological damage associated with fishing. Designated access privilege (DAP) systems such as individual fishing quotas (IFQs) and harvest cooperatives are one attempt to realign incentives so that fishers no longer race to maximize catches. IFQs are not appropriate for many fisheries. Fortunately, the IFQ debate has drawn attention to the link between incentives that fishers face and the ecological consequences of fishing. Despite important social concerns, preliminary evidence suggests that IFQs encourage cooperation, fisher stewardship, and a slower pace of fishing. This review points to the need to improve the metrics of marine ecosystem health and pursue quantitative methods for assessing the ecological impacts of different management approaches.
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