This project undertook a detailed review and analysis of the rights-based management (RBM) systems in place in EU coastal Member States. Rights-based approaches to fisheries management have shown potential for promoting biologically sustainable and economically viable fisheries in several parts of the world. Whilst fisheries management is a Community responsibility, under the framework of the reformed EU common fisheries policy (CFP), economic management of fishing rights is a national responsibility and in practice, many Member States have already implemented RBM approaches in a range of fisheries across the EU. This study addressed the need, identified by the Commission, for a review of these existing RBM practices. It analysed the attributes and effects of RBM systems and investigated their degree of success in contributing to achievement of the CFP objectives of sustainability of exploitation of stocks, matching fleet size with available fish resources, and economic viability of the fishing industry.

The project developed a typology of RBM systems and reviewed those in place across coastal Member States in light of four key attributes: exclusivity, security, validity and transferability. A range of specific RBM characteristics and effects were explored; including the relationship between the RBM system and input or output constraints at the Community level; the initial allocation of rights and its subsequent evolution; the functioning of the management tools; the existence, functioning and monitoring of markets for fishing rights; the role of different institutions; and the reasons why certain coastal Member States have not deployed RBM. Finally, to the extent possible, the project recommended best practices for different types of fisheries in the EU, based on the degree of success of RBM in Member States with regard to CFP objectives (sustainability exploitation of stocks, relationship between size of fleets and available resources, economic viability) and corresponding conservation measures (input or output restrictions), and identified best practices for different types of fisheries, fleets and EU regions.

Name of Client

European Commission (EC), DG-Fish

Project Dates



European Union (EU)