Designing Market Solutions with Artisanal Fishing Communities for Economic benefits and Marine Protection
No-take Marine Protected Areas (Nt-MPAs) are an important tool for biodiversity conservation. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that a large proportion of Nt-MPAs are not managed or enforced effectively. Further, governments and fishing communities are often resistant to the implementation and compliance of formal Nt-MPAs. Consequently, there is a need to increase the effectiveness of marine conservation by developing new approaches to biodiversity protection that promote fisher engagement and sustainable fishery practices.
Territorial User Rights for Fisheries, known as TURFs, are being promoted to enhance the sustainability of small-scale fisheries. Chile has one of the longest running TURF policies in the world. Many artisanal fishers are organized in formal cooperatives and are granted TURFs by the federal government: long-term tenure over a section of coast which they can harvest benthic invertebrates and other resources. With our partners (Shellcatch, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, and Virginia Tech), we are designing and piloting a new market model in Chile that provides measurable coastal biodiversity benefits while simultaneously providing economic benefits to fishing cooperatives. 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 TURF as an enforced 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. ACS is using 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 and novel cross-sector alliances.
Want to know more? Check out our short essay on Incentivizing biodiversity conservation in artisanal fishing communities through territorial user rights and business model innovation recently published in the journal Conservation Biology.