This project arose from a Marine RTDI Desk Study DK/01/005. The aims of the project were:

  1. to carry out a review of the methods used and the success of various fish stock rebuilding plans for depleted commercially exploited marine fish stocks;
  2. to describe and review the strategies employed and the measures of success achieved;
  3. to identify, by means of case histories, the most successful recovery strategies achieved to date; and
  4. to design a general template for recovery plans that could be adapted to assist recovery and sustainable exploitation of any stock of fish in the future.


The project was approached from two directions. Firstly, the theoretical aspects of recovery plans were investigated. This included consideration of the fundamental building blocks of a recovery plan, as well as the influence various biological and environmental factors might have on the success of recovery plans. Secondly, we complied an extensive set of data on recovery plans of fisheries, including whether they were successful or not and the reasons for this success. This work was extended through detailed examination of 9 case studies and a review of the current rebuilding plans for EU stocks.


We consider a recovery (or rebuilding) plan to refer to the active intervention by management in situations where stock status has deteriorated to levels beyond those which normal management procedures can deal with (for instance, a decline of stocks below Blim rather than simply below Bpa/Bpr). Throughout the 1990s various international initiatives based around responsible fisheries and the precautionary approach changed the way in which the rebuilding of fish stocks was considered. Before 1995, stock rebuilding was considered feasible using a continuation of “business as usual” procedures but with lower fishing mortality rates. As this study shows, these had only partial success, prompting the consideration of more structured and holistic approaches to rebuilding and recovery.

Name of Client

Irish Marine Institute

Project Dates