TAC is Total Allowable Catch. This is the upper limit in the amount of fish, either by weight or number, that a fishery is allocated in a given season or year. TACs can apply to the targeted fish and/or bycatch, where once the limit is reached the fishery is closed for the remainder of the applicable time frame. Often, the TAC is set based on an assessment of the stock status for the fishery, such as maximum sustainable yield (MSY).
In open-access or “derby” style fisheries, there is a free-for-all competition until the TAC is exhausted. This can lead to risky or unsafe behavior, where vessels may continue to operate in hazardous conditions in order to harvest a larger proportion of the TAC. In order to avoid accidents from such situations, some fisheries have opted for quota-based management systems where the TAC can be divided into catch shares, such as Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs).