Rights-based management, such as the individual transferable quota (ITQ) system, is a popular approach for pursuing economic, social, and environmental sustainability in fisheries, with a variety of outcomes. This variety appears to be explained by the contextual differences between the targeted fisheries. By acknowledging that each fishery is unique, we need to apply holistic evaluation methods to understand the mechanisms causing different outcomes in fisheries interventions. Here, we apply the realist evaluation (RE) approach to evaluate the ITQ system implemented in the Finnish herring fishery. This study serves two purposes: (1) it outlines the realized outcomes of the Finnish management system in relation to the expected outcomes and (2) it introduces the RE method to the field of fisheries management. Measured in economic terms, the results indicate the new management system to be a success, although the benefits are more prominent for large-scale fishers. The context did not allow small-scale fishers to reap the theorized benefits of the ITQ system, leading to a somewhat more uncertain future for the sector. The RE approach proved to be a useful tool, well-suited to the evaluation of fisheries management systems.
- Ekologia, evoluutiobiologia