Applying global best practices for estimating unreported catches in Norwegian fisheries under a discard ban
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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In addition to their role as a fisheries management tool, discard bans can be effective in improving knowledge of total catches via the requirement to land and report all catches. This shifts the focus to understanding the scale of unreported catches in fisheries, rather than only on discards. However, the presence of a discard ban can cause problems with estimation process, as it involves the observation of illegal activities, and the complex sources of unreported catches require a different approach to estimation. The Norwegian discard ban was introduced in 1987 as part of a wider suite of regulatory measures to improve exploitation patterns in commercial fisheries, but a framework for the regular estimation of unreported catches has yet to be established and operationalised. Here, we aim to identify global best practices for estimating unreported catches under a discard ban and assess their applicability to Norwegian fisheries. We approach this in three steps: (1) defining the scope of an estimation, (2) data collection, and (3) the actual procedure for estimation. We discuss how each step can affect the quality of an estimate with regards to accuracy, precision, practical limitations and whether the estimate is fit for purpose. Finally, we provide a list of recommendations for future studies and identify key knowledge gaps and limitations regarding their application to Norwegian fisheries.