Fish distributions reveal discrepancies between zonal attachment and quota allocations

Paul G. Fernandes*, Niall G. Fallon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


The oceans’ fisheries contribute to human wellbeing by providing essential nutrients, employment, and income. Changes in fish distribution, due to climate change or stock expansion, jeopardize conservation objectives because fishers catch more than is allocated as quota. Quotas, or catch shares, should, therefore, correspond to the share of the fish stock biomass present within a country's Exclusive Economic Zone, a concept known as Zonal Attachment. Here, we assess the Zonal Attachment of transboundary fish stocks present in northern Europe, in the waters of the United Kingdom, the European Union (without the United Kingdom), and Norway. In 12 of 14 important fish stocks, estimates of Zonal Attachment to the United Kingdom were significantly higher than current quota allocations, explaining the country's substantial discard problem. With environmental change, and stock recovery under improved fisheries conservation, scientific evidence should be used not only to set catch limits, but also to re-examine catch shares.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12702
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Common Fisheries Policy
  • discards
  • distribution
  • fish
  • quotas
  • zonal attachment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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