Expert Meeting on the Human Side of Fisheries Adjustment


Expert Meeting on the Human Side of Fisheries Adjustment

19 October 2006

Room Roger Ockrent, OECD Headquarters
2, rue André Pascal 75116 Paris
Métro: La Muette (Line 9)

organised by
 the OECD Committee for Fisheries (COFI) 

With financial assistance from
the governments of Canada, the Netherlands and Norway


The expert meeting has brought together experts and delegates to analyse the social issues and policy challenges that arise as a result of fisheries adjustment policies, and how OECD member countries are meeting those policy challenges. The meeting will focus on two key dimensions of the policy issue:

  • How have OECD governments sought to assist unemployed fishers find new employment, develop useful new skills, and create new employment opportunities in their regions?
  • Is there sufficient coherence between fisheries management policies and social and labour market adjustment policies in ensuring resilient fishing communities?


This Expert Meeting is being organised by the OECD Committee for Fisheries as part of its project on “Fisheries Policy Reform” which seeks to identify the key policy lessons from reform experiences in the fisheries sector. The workshop is intended to contribute to the Committee’s understanding of the process of policy reform, particularly with respect to the impacts of structural adjustments on the fisheries labour market and fisheries communities. The focus on the labour market arises in recognition of the important role that social factors often play in helping or inhibiting the broader process of reform in the sector. This is particularly evident in the case of fishing adjustment programs as labour market changes will generally accompany capacity adjustment, but are often overlooked in the policy debate.

The particular characteristics of the fisheries sector make the social aspects of the adjustment challenge all the more difficult to assess and anticipate. There is a general stickiness in the fisheries-related labour market, with low job mobility and limited employment alternatives in many coastal regions. This has a flow-on effect on the flexibility and resilience of fishing communities. Government efforts to facilitate adjustment have tended to focus on short-term efforts to find alternative employment for redundant fishery workers (often referred to as “active” labour market policies). These are generally introduced as an adjunct to capacity adjustment programmes and are often added as an afterthought given that vessel reduction is usually the main focus of the policy reform. There has, however, been little evaluation of the effectiveness of such active labour market policies across the fisheries sectors of OECD countries and there is considerable scope for developing policy insights from the experiences of schemes that have been implemented to date.

There is also a longer-term issue in ensuring that governments develop broader policy frameworks that provide fishing communities with a coherent set of policy signals so that that adjustment occurs smoothly and largely autonomously in the future. Such “passive” labour market policies are an essential complement to short term active labour market policies in ensuring that the adaptability and resilience of fishing communities is strengthened over time. The management arrangements for fisheries will also play a major role in ensuring the resilience of the fishing sector and it is essential that fisheries management policy and labour market policies are mutually supportive and coherent. Once again, this issue has not been examined in depth in OECD countries to date.


The meeting was held on 19th October 2006 at OECD Headquarters, 2 rue André Pascal, 75116 Paris.

Here is a list of some hotels near the conference room and OECD La Muette Headquarters which provide lower rates if you mention that you are participating at an OECD meeting.


The meeting is by invitation only.

Please contact Anthony Cox ( or Carl-Christian Schmidt ( for further information on registration.


For further information on the logistics of the workshop, please contact:

Anthony Cox 
Senior Economist
OECD Fisheries Division
Ph: +33 1 45 24 95 64

Emily Andrews-Chouicha
OECD Fisheries Division
Ph: +31 1 45 24 95 02



Chair: Jane Willing, Ministry of Fisheries New Zealand

Session 1: Setting the scene

Opening address
Steffen Smidt, Danish Ambassador to the OECD

The human dimension of fisheries adjustment: An overview of key issues and policy challenges,
Anthony Charles, St Mary’s University, Canada

The real cost of diminishing fishing effort in the European Union, Nicki Holmyard, Chair, North Sea Women’s Network

Session 2: How are governments addressing the human side of fisheries adjustment?

This session will focus on country experiences in the use of active labour market policies as part of adjustment programs in selected OECD countries and highlight policy lessons learned from those experiences. Papers will provide ex-post evaluations of the effectiveness of the policies and the challenges that arose in their design, implementation and effectiveness.

Restructuring and adjustment policy in Canada's fisheries labour market programmingand other measures: The learning experience (1992-2003)
Gor Ruseski, Director of Trade Policy and International Coordination,
Fisheries and Oceans, Canada

Assessing the social impact of fisheries adjustment under the Magnuson-Stevenson Act
Rebecca Lent, Director, Office of International Affairs, NOAA Fisheries Service,
United States

Structural adjustment in Australia’s South-East trawl fishery
Frank Meere, FRM Consulting, Australia

Addressing the implications of an ageing fisheries labour force in Japan
Nobuyuki Yagi, Japan Fisheries Agency

Session 3: Ensuring coherence between fisheries management and social policies

This session will examine the interaction between fisheries management policies and active and passive labour market policies. In particular, the presentations will explore the degree to which the policy objectives in the two policy areas are mutually supportive or work against each other in times of adjustment in the sector.

Matching social policy with fisheries policy in the French fisheries sector
Thomas Binet, OECD

Always too many? The human side of fishery capacity adjustment in Norway
Bjorn Hersoug, University of Tromso

Key policy issues and challenges in the linkage between fisheries and theaquaculture sector in Mexico's rural development strategy
Claudia Beltran, Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino, Colombia

Session 4: Roundtable on policy lessons

The moderated round table discussion will be opened by Jane Willing and will draw together the policy lessons learned from the case studies presented in the previous sessions. Discussion will be opened by Ambassador Steffen Smidt, Tony Charles, Nicki Holmyard, Mike Park (Scottish White Fish Producers Association) and Frank Meere, followed by general discussion.



There is a Proceedings publication entitled Structural Change in Fisheries: Dealing with the Human Dimension available under the Online Bookshop that includes the papers presented at the above Expert Meeting.


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