Regulation of Fishing Technology
The most effective means of managing ocean fisheries long-term will be regulations. Ideally, regulations would occur before fish are caught rather than after. For example, regulation should specify net drag speed and net mesh size rather than enforcing quotas, which only encourage fishermen to throw fish exceeding the weight limit away. Regulation would be most effective if the two are combined.
Bottom trawling should not be allowed in communities deeper than a certain depth because deep ocean habitats recover much more slowly whereas very shallow areas that are used to storms, and other factors which affect the bottom habitat, show little or no damage in the succeeding months after trawling has taken place. More research is needed in classifying sediment type according to depth or extensive underwater terrain mapping to show sediment composition so that areas that can be bottom trawled can be distinguished from those that cannot. Bottom trawling effects can be somewhat mitigated by these steps, but still harm the ocean environment and should therefore be phased out altogether as newer technology is implemented.
Regulation of where mobile gear (trawls and other similar fishing methods) and non-mobile gear (such as lines or traps) can be used in conjunction with the mapping of underwater terrain would also greatly limit the damage to the sea floor. Mobile gears catch greater volumes of fish, but can be much less selective than non-mobile gear. However, mobile gear is much more cost effective since more fish can be caught in less time with less effort.
For mobile gear, we should regulate at what speed nets can be dragged so as to maximize the benefit of the increased mesh size. At high speeds, fish that would normally be able to escape from the netting are trapped by the larger fish that are pressed against the end of the net. Setting a minimum mesh size that nets cannot exceed would also decrease the bycatch, although more research is needed to determine the minimum size for the various species being fished.