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Chile

Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program

Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program

ACS and its partners (Pontífica Universidad Católica de Chile and Shellcatch) are working with fishing organizations along the central coast of Chile to create a network of marine reserves that are managed by fishermen.

Over the past several years, we have designed a program that is both desirable to fishing communities and leverages Chilean law that grants fishing cooperatives exclusive access rights to stretches of the coast. Known as TURFs (Territorial User Rights for Fisheries), these access rights are an important source of income for fishing communities via benthic fisheries.

A number of fishing communities have chosen to participate in the Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program. They agree to set aside a portion of their TURF as a no-take zone and agree to conduct anti-poaching surveillance.

In exchange, the community receives an annual payment to help with enforcement costs, as well as a video coastal monitoring system that independently monitors the no-take zone. ACS then monitors the biodiversity at the no-take zone and control sites to document changes and benefits. With support from Walton Family Foundation, we will be working over the next year to scale the program in central Chile by enrolling more fishing organizations in the Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program.

ACS Associate Stefan Gelcich and a Capital Azul Reserve Program  sign at the fishing community headquarters of Maitencillo in central Chile.

ACS Associate Stefan Gelcich and a Capital Azul Reserve Program  sign at the fishing community headquarters of Maitencillo in central Chile.

Alternative Strategies to Marine Conservation

The continued degradation of marine ecosystems, along with the ecosystem services they provide, suggest that new, innovative approaches are needed to scale up marine biodiversity protection and promote sustainable fishery practices. We synthesize information from Chile on the key processes involved in the development of alternative strategies for scaling up marine biodiversity conservation and discuss the complementarities with marine protected areas. Defined as “ancillary” marine conservation initiatives under the Convention of Biological Diversity, we suggest that these alternative strategies have the potential to capitalize on local stakeholders’ participation and contribute to solving livelihood and governance issues while playing a significant role in scaling up marine conservation. We specifically focus on two recent ancillary initiatives being piloted in Chile. The development of business model innovations which could enable biodiversity benefits from territorial user rights fisheries policies and the creation of municipal conservation areas. We identify how these initiatives could eventually help scale up marine conservation, discuss opportunities and challenges from these pilot experiences and conclude with the need for developing policy frameworks and cross-scale governance approaches which formally acknowledge marine ancillary conservation measures as part of an integrated way to manage marine biodiversity. Exploring and supporting alternative complementary marine conservation strategies is particularly relevant in Chile and Latin America, if biodiversity conservation initiatives are to scale in coverage, contribute to livelihood improvement of local communities, replenish fisheries and play key roles in adaptation to climate change. 

TURFs, innovation and biodiversity benefits

TURFs, innovation and biodiversity benefits

Territorial user rights for fisheries are being promoted to enhance the sustainability of small-scale fisheries. Using Chile as a case study, we designed a market-based program aimed at improving fishers’ livelihoods while incentivizing the establishment and enforcement of no-take areas within areas managed with territorial user right regimes. Building on explicit enabling conditions (i.e., high levels of governance, participation, and empowerment), we used a place-based, human-centered approach to design a program that will have the necessary support and buy-in from local fishers to result in landscape-scale biodiversity benefits. Transactional infrastructure must be complex enough to capture the biodiversity benefits being created, but simple enough so that the program can be scaled up and is attractive to potential financiers. Biodiversity benefits created must be commoditized, and desired behavioral changes must be verified within a transactional context. Demand must be generated for fisher-created biodiversity benefits in order to attract financing and to scale the market model. Important design decisions around these 3 components—supply, transactional infrastructure, and demand—must be made based on local social-ecological conditions. Our market model, which is being piloted in Chile, is a flexible foundation on which to base scalable opportunities to operationalize a scheme that incentivizes local, verifiable biodiversity benefits via conservation behaviors by fishers that could likely result in significant marine conservation gains and novel cross-sector alliances. 

Technology, Human-Centered Design, and Biodiversity

Technology, Human-Centered Design, and Biodiversity

In Chile, ACS is designing and testing a market model that provides measurable coastal biodiversity benefits while simultaneously providing livelihood security to fishing cooperatives. In partnership the social start-up Shellcatch, Stefan Gelcich (Center for Applied Ecology and Sustainability, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile), and Mike Sorice (Va Tech University, USA), we are doing so by co-designing a program with artisanal fishers that compensates them for the opportunity costs forgone by setting aside a portion of their Territorial User Rights for Fisheries as a no-take zone. The outcome is a scalable program that provides a supplementary revenue stream to fishing cooperatives in exchange for management actions that produce verified biodiversity benefits and promote sustainable fisheries. 

We are partnering with the social business Shellcatchto develop the technology and protocols to verify contract conditions with participating fishing cooperatives. Building on over three years of experience in Chile, we have developed video monitoring and GPS technology that can detect anti-poaching events within established no-take zones. This technology is the foundation to monitor the anti-poaching surveillance and reporting component that is required by participating fishing cooperatives.

Below is video footage of our land-based video monitoring system designed to detect poaching events, as well as verify contract compliance with participating fishing cooperatives.