Trade-offs between bycatch and target catches in static versus dynamic fishery closures

Pons M, Watson J, Ovando D, et al (2022) Trade-offs between bycatch and target catches in static versus dynamic fishery closures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119:11–11.

While there have been recent improvements in reducing bycatch in many fisheries, bycatch remains a threat for numerous species around the globe. Static spatial and temporal closures are used in many places as a tool to reduce bycatch. However, their effectiveness in achieving this goal is uncertain, particularly for highly mobile species. We evaluated evidence for the effects of temporal, static, and dynamic area closures on the bycatch and target catch of 15 fisheries around the world. Assuming perfect knowledge of where the catch and bycatch occurs and a closure of 30% of the fishing area, we found that dynamic area closures could reduce bycatch by an average of 57% without sacrificing catch of target species, compared to 16% reductions in bycatch achievable by static closures. The degree of bycatch reduction achievable for a certain quantity of target catch was related to the correlation in space and time between target and bycatch species. If the correlation was high, it was harder to find an area to reduce bycatch without sacrificing catch of target species. If the goal of spatial closures is to reduce bycatch, our results suggest that dynamic management provides substantially better outcomes than classic static marine area closures. The use of dynamic ocean management might be difficult to implement and enforce in many regions. Nevertheless, dynamic approaches will be increasingly valuable as climate change drives species and fisheries into new habitats or extended ranges, altering species-fishery interactions and underscoring the need for more responsive and flexible regulatory mechanisms.