This menu organises news, documents, projects, profiles and links into key topics, and the menu along the top divides the contents of the site by type.
New to these issues?
New to this site?
Glossary of terms
18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Glossary of terms
Access right - an authorisation, given to a user (e.g. a vessel owner) by a competent fishery management authority or by legislation, to exploit a resource, a particular species, or a share of a total allowable catch. Access rights can be granted against payment or free of charge. They are usually conditional and used under constraints specified in the management plan.
Beam trawling - a large net attached to a heavy metal beam is dragged across the seabed behind a boat, digging into and ploughing up the ground. The beam, which can be up to 12m long, keeps the net open horizontally while metal frames at each end keep it open vertically. Beam trawlers tow two nets, one each side of the vessel. On larger boats, several tons of 'tickler' chains can be used ahead of the ground rope to raise fish which may otherwise be crushed by the beam.
Bottom trawl - Trawls which are designed and rigged to work near the bottom. There are two types: low opening trawls, especially adapted to the capture of demersal species, such as beam trawls and shrimp, sole or nephrops trawls; and high-opening trawls, suitable mainly for the capture of semi-demersal or pelagic species. In bottom trawls, the lower edge of the net opening is normally protected by a thick ground rope ballasted with chain sinkers and often covered with rubber discs or bobbins.
By-catch - generally by-catch includes all material, except for the target species, which is caught while fishing, including by-product, discards and any items which get caught in the fishing gear.
By-product - Any part of the catch which is kept or sold by the fisher but which is not the target species.
Catch Documentation Scheme - a scheme implemented by a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) designed to track the landings and trade flows of a specified species caught within the area managed by the RFMO or in adjacent waters.
Cetaceans - members of the mammalian group Cetacea, including whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Chain of Custody - the set of measures designed to guarantee that the product put on the market and bearing the eco-label logo is really a product coming from the certified fishery concerned. These measures should cover the tracking or traceability of the product all along the processing, distribution and marketing chain, as well as the proper tracking of the documentation and quality control.
CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) - the European Union policy for the management of fisheries and aquaculture.
COFI - Committee on Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.
Competitive Total Allowable Catch - a total allowable catch (TAC) under which participants are not allocated a portion of the total catch limit but the catches from all participants are added up to ensure that the sum of all catches does not exceed that TAC.
Crustacean - a class of arthropods, which have gills and bodies covered by a hard shell, such as crabs, lobsters and shrimps.
Cyanide fishing - fishers inject a sodium cyanide solution into reef crevices or around coral to stun live fish or invertebrates for capture; these fish are sold either in the live-reef fish trade (mainly in Asia) or as ornamental display (mainly in North America, the EU and Japan). Cyanide also affects untargeted fish, invertebrates and the surrounding reef.
Danish seine - a trawling method used by relatively small boats in shallow waters (up to about 200 m). Lengths of weighted ropes of up to 2,800 m are laid out on the sea floor in a diamond pattern with the boat at one end of the diamond and the net at the other. As the boat moves forward the diamond becomes elongated allowing the fish to be herded into the path of the net.
Deepwater species - species living in water beyond the continental slope in depths of more than 400 metres.
Demersal fish - fish that are normally caught on the seabed.
Demersal gillnet - a mesh net, also known as a gillnet, tangle net or graball net, which is anchored to the seabed but kept upright by floats.
Depleted stock - stock driven by fishing to a very low level compared to historical levels, with dramatically reduced numbers and reproductive capacity. Recovery requires particularly energetic rebuilding strategies and its recovery time will depend on the present condition, the level of protection and the environmental conditions.
Discards - Any part of the catch returned to the sea, whether dead or alive.
Dredging - a method used for harvesting bivalve molluscs such as oysters, clams and scallops from the seabed.
Driftnet - Kept near the surface, or a certain distance below it, by numerous floats, the net drifts with the current, separately or with the boat to which it is attached. A driftnet may be used close to the bottom (eg. shrimp driftnet) or at the surface (eg. herring driftnet) usually across the path of migrating fish schools. Aquatic animals also strike the net and become entangled in its meshes. Large Scale Pelagic Driftnets are surface or sub-surface driftnets exceeding 2.5 km and up to 50 kms, which are banned by a UN resolution.
Eco-label - a label attached to a product informing a potential consumer of a product's environmental characteristics, or of the production or processing methods used in its production.
Ecosystem Based Management - An integrated approach to management that considers the entire ecosystem, including humans. The goal is to maintain an ecosystem in a healthy, productive and resilient condition so that it can provide the services humans want and need.
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) - the area of sea in which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources. This is usually a distance of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coast.
Factory trawler - a large stern trawler equipped with facilities for gutting, filleting, freezing and storing fish, and for processing fish oil and fish meal.
Finning - the practice of removing fins and discarding the carcass, usually involving sharks.
Fish aggregating devices (FADs) - artificial floating structures that attract pelagic species, including tuna. These devices are now widely distributed in tropical and subtropical waters globally.
Fish stock - the living resources in the community or population from which catches are taken in a fishery. In a particular fishery, the fish stock may be one or several species of fish.
Fisheries Management Organisation - institution responsible for fisheries management, including the formulation of the rules that govern fishing activities. The organisation may also be responsible for all ancillary services, such as the collection of information, its analysis, stock assessment, monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS), consultation with interested parties, application and/or determination of the rules of access to the fishery, and resource allocation.
Fishery - this can refer to the sum of all fishing activities on a given resource eg. 'shrimp fishery', or the activity of catching fish from one or more stocks eg. North Sea cod fishery, or to a single type or style of fishing, such as trawl fishery.
Flag of convenience - the flag flown by a vessel when a boat is registered in a different state than that of ownership, for reasons of 'convenience'.
Flag state - a vessel may be registered and 'flagged' in a different state from that of its owners, for reasons of 'convenience'. The former state is known as the 'flag state'.
Gillnet - also known as an entangling net. Fish are gilled, entangled or enmeshed in the netting, which may be either single (gillnets) or triple (trammelnets). Several types of nets may be combined in one gear (for example, trammelnet combined with a gillnet). These nets can be used either alone or, as is more usual, in large numbers placed in line ('fleets' of nets). According to their design, ballasting and buoyancy, these nets may be used to fish on the surface, in mid-water or on the bottom.
Global Positioning System (GPS) - a low cost ($1000 to $5000) system for finding three-dimensional coordinates on the earth using satellites.
Handlining - also know as or hook and line fishing. A highly selective method of fishing, producing high quality catch.
High seas - seas that do not belong to any one state or nation ie. outside Exclusive Economic Zones.
Highly migratory species or stocks - marine species whose life cycle includes lengthy migrations, usually through the EEZ of two or more countries as well as into international waters. This term is usually used to denote tuna and tuna-like species, marlins and swordfish.
Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) - individual portions of a TAC, which allow the holder to catch that portion of the TAC each season. The weight value of the ITQs change proportionately to changes in the TAC set for a species each season. ITQs are fully tradable and can be sold or leased to other persons.
Longline fishing - a method of fishing that can be either surface set (pelagic) or bottom set (demersal) line fishing. Both methods comprise a main line to which are attached branch lines, each fitted with one or more baited hooks or artificial lures.
Maximum sustainable yield - the maximum amount of a renewable resource that can be harvested over an indefinite period without causing its stock to be depleted.
Mesh size - the size of holes in fishing net. Minimum mesh sizes are often prescribed by regulations in order to avoid the capture of the young fish before they have reached their optimal size for capture or before they have been able to reproduce.
Misreporting - false or incorrect reporting of details about the quantity and area of capture of species which are regulated by quota.
Mixed fishery - a fishery comprising more than one species, for example, North European demersal fisheries typically include cod, haddock, whiting, pollack and saithe.
Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) - activities undertaken by the fishery enforcement system to ensure compliance with fishery regulations.
Moratorium - an outright ban on fishing (for example on Canadian Cod) or using a particular gear (such as the UN ban on large scale pelagic drift nets).
Nominal catch - the sum of the catches that are landed (expressed as live weight equivalent). Nominal catches do not include unreported discards.
Non-target species - any part of the catch, except the target species, and including by-catch and by-product.
Overfished - a stock is considered 'overfished' when it is exploited past the point at which its abundance is considered "too low" to ensure safe reproduction.
Pelagic fish - fish that are normally caught on the sea surface or in the water column.
Pelagic longlining - a fishing method that targets pelagic fish species. A pelagic longline comprises a mainline to which are attached branch lines, each fitted with one or more baited hooks or artificial lures. The mainline, branch lines and hooks are suspended above the seabed by floats at the sea surface.
Port state - the authority under which a country exercises regulatory control over a commercial vessel which is registered under another country's flag. This authority exists while such a vessel is operating within that country's territorial waters.
Port state authority - any official organisation authorised by the government of a Port State to administer guidelines and enforce standards and regulations relevant to the implementation of national and international shipping control measures.
Precautionary approach - a set of measures taken to reduce or avoid risks to resources, the environment and/or people, taking into account existing uncertainties and the potential consequences of being 'wrong'.
Purse seining - a method used to capture schooling pelagic fish in which an area of water is surrounded by a net set at the surface which is then "pursed" at the base to enclose that area from beneath.
Quota - a share of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) allocated to an operating unit such as a country, a vessel, a company or an individual fisherman (individual quota) depending on the system of allocation. Quotas may or may not be transferable, inheritable, and tradable. While generally used to allocate total allowable catch, quotas could be used also to allocate fishing effort or biomass.
Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) - an affiliation of nations which co-ordinates efforts to manage fisheries in a particular region. RFMOs may focus on certain species of fish (eg. the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna - CCSBT) or have a wider remit related to marine resources in general within a region (eg. the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources - CCAMLR).
Seine net - a net usually set from a boat, which can be operated either from the shore (beach seines) or from the boat itself (eg. Danish or Scottish seines). The area of water is surrounded with a very long net, which is then hauled in using two ropes fixed to the ends of the net.
Straddling stock - stock which occurs both within the EEZ and in an area beyond and adjacent to the EEZ.
Straddling Stocks Agreement - unofficial abbreviation for the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982, relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. Also called the UN Implementing Agreement (UNIA).
Sustainable fishing - fishing activities that do not cause undesirable changes in the biological and economic productivity, biological diversity, or ecosystem structure.
Target species - the most highly sought component of the catch taken by fishers.
Total Allowable Catch (TAC) - the amount of fish of a particular species that can be taken from a fishery in a prescribed period. TACs are set for fish species managed through ITQs.
Transshipment - the transfer from one vessel to another for shipment. A transshipment point is a location where fishery products are brought together to create a bulk quantity for onward shipment. It also refers to the transfer at sea of fish from one vessel to another.
Trawl - a cone or funnel-shaped net that is towed through the water by one or more vessels and which is used on the bottom or in mid-water (pelagic). In certain cases, as in trawling for shrimp or flatfish, the trawler can be specially rigged with outriggers to tow up to four trawls at the same time (double rigging)
Turtle exclusion device (TED) - a modification to shrimp trawl nets (a hinged metal gate) that allows turtles to escape, whilst shrimp are retained.
UN Fish Stocks Agreement - abbreviation for the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.
UNCLOS - United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was adopted in 1982 and entered into force in 1994.
Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) - as part of modern Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) systems the VMS is a vessel tracking system (usually satellite-based) which provides management authorities with accurate information on fishing vessels position (and speed) at time intervals.
W, X, Y, Z