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Fisheries Benefit from Rights-Based Management


GLOBAL - Effective fisheries reform measures give fishers more ownership over their area, giving them strong incentives for conservation, shows a new study from several environmental campaign groups including Rare.

The study, which has just been published online in Oceanography, shows that combining marine reserves with spatial rights-based fisheries management can provide synergistic benefits. In fact, rights-based fisheries management can change the lives of small-scale fishermen and coastal communities around the world.

"Instead of racing to catch as much as they can, local fishermen receive exclusive access to a designated fishery area in the form of 'territorial use rights in fisheries', or TURFs, a type of rights-based fishery management," said Brett Jenks, CEO of Rare and an author of the study.

"The territorial rights concept is actually one of the oldest methods of dividing catch."

Granting exclusive access can then spur a sense of local ownership of the area, and local fishers and community members have a clear reason to take up conservation measures protecting their TURF.

Rights based fishery management methods like TURFS have been implemented in countries around the world, accounting for 20-25 per cent of global landings by biomass.

Ideally, TURFs are paired with marine reserves or "no-take zones" that prohibit fishing and other extractive activities inside an area within or adjacent to a given TURF.

In these spots, fish populations have room to recover and eventually spill over into the TURFs.

Studies have shown that well-managed no take areas boost fish stocks by an average of 446 per cent inside a protected area and 207 per cent outside of it. Along the way, fishers become better stewards of the ocean.

"This new study provides a strong and comprehensive rationale for pairing secure fishing rights with marine reserves," said co-author Amanda Leland, senior vice president, Environmental Defense Fund.

"Each science-based success story is impressive on its own; but taken together they illustrate in a compelling way how they can be replicated and scaled on the global stage through partnerships like Fish Forever."

"Finding solutions that can work in thousands of the world's small scale fisheries is key to creating a better future for coastal reefs and the millions of people who depend on them," said Steve Gaines, Dean, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California Santa Barbara.

"TURFs and marine reserves have benefits when used alone, but together they provide a far more effective and scalable solution that can meet this challenge."

The Oceanography paper highlights seven categories of potential benefits from pairing TURFs and marine reserves:

  1. Promote natural emergence of community-initiated marine reserves,
  2. Establish private marine reserves by eco-tourism or conservation outfitters,
  3. Deploy reserves as buffers between TURFs,
  4. Generate profit-sharing mechanisms between fishers and tourism operators In revenue-generating marine reserves to reduce opposition to reserve implementation,
  5. Protect bycatch species,
  6. Increase fishery profits and fish abundance, and
  7. Decrease illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Given the potential of these paired systems, this paper emphasises a call to action to engage both top-down (centralised government and institutions) and bottom-up (community) approaches to inform the design, implementation and management of these systems.

With designs informed by science and supported by both local communities and national governance, TURF-Reserves are paving the way to maximise economic, social, and environmental wins globally.

Further Reading

You can view the full report and author list by clicking here.