It is important to note again that environmental crime does not encompass all activities that fall under IUU fishing. Environmental crime, as a concept, usually involves some form of non-compliance with a legal obligation (whether this is administrative or criminal is another issue of debate). IUU fishing includes two types of non-compliant activity, that which is illegal and that which is unreported. The latter does not mean that the fishing activity itself is illegal, but non-compliance is due to a reporting failure. In most cases, it is assumed that fishers failing to report do so for a reason and that is likely to be due to some form of noncompliance with the fishing activity itself. However, the third aspect of IUU fishing is unregulated, which is not a matter of illegality and, therefore, is not included in most concepts of environmental crime. Thus, overall assessments of the extent of IUU fishing cannot be strictly equated with environmental crime. Having said this, the discussion in this chapter of the role of rights-based management focused on a tool that is used within an overall regulatory framework and, therefore, its effectiveness is likely to concern illegal and unreported fishing, rather than unregulated fishing.

Several sources show that there is an issue with the number of CFP serious infringements reported by member states to the Commission. The challenges in addressing such infringements are:

  • • To ensure fishers know their obligations;
  • • To be able to track and identify non-compliance;
  • • To have the enforcement mechanisms in place to tackle non-compliance and act as an incentive for compliance;
  • • To adopt systems that encourage compliant behaviour.

Rights-based management is a potential mechanism to deliver better fisheries management. The adoption of rights-based management can lead to better compliance with the requirements of fisheries (such as TACs) due to the interest that rights holders have, their ability to lease extra quotas, and other factors. It has, for example, been shown that catch shares increase compliance in meeting catch limits (Branch 2009; Grimm et al. 2012; Melnychuck et al. 2012). However, there are few reports on whether individual transferable quota fishers better respect fisheries’ regulations like area closures, seasonal closures, and minimum landing sizes (Branch 2009). In addition, the benefits of rights-based management depend entirely on the rights being adequately determined. If fishers consider their entitlements insufficient or unfairly distributed, then non-compliant behaviour may occur.

Rights-based management should, therefore, be considered in designing fisheries management. In implementing such a system, it is important to design the catch-share systems properly to ensure the incentives work for compliance as well, that is, to address or limit social equity concerns (see Grimm et al. 2012). It is also an important lesson for other situations where there is extraction of natural resources and problems with illegal activity and environmental crime. Equitable distribution of rights in relation to those resources might be an appropriate mechanism for better management of those resources and a possible mechanism to reduce environmental crime.

Finally, even with the design of fisheries allocations that are less likely to result in non-compliant behaviour, effective enforcement and control of fishing activities are still essential to the ultimate success of any management system in place (Europa 2007b). Without adequate enforcement, TACs may be exceeded under any management system. This is important for all areas of environmental crime, where tools may be introduced to lessen the pressure to conduct criminal activity, but which still require the dissuasive pressure of an enforcement system to remain in place.

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