Sustainable Ocean Solutions
The Sustainable Ocean Solutions (SOS) project, made possible by the generous support of the Waitt Foundation, combines three important tools for ocean sustainability – rights-based management reform, marine protected areas, and demand-side incentives – into novel solutions for the world’s fisheries challenges. When employed individually, these three instruments can only successfully tackle a small percentage of ailing fisheries worldwide. A central challenge is to develop fisheries management systems to facilitate synergies among these approaches, thus capitalizing on their complementary strengths while overcoming their individual weaknesses. Although the necessary elements may differ across fisheries and settings, by combining changes that affect the supply of fish (such as catch shares), with conservation measures (such as MPAs), and tools that change consumer demand (such as fisheries certification), fisheries, communities, and ecosystems can simultaneously prosper.
This project uses a two-pronged approach, focusing on 1) research and development, determining how and in what contexts to combine the sustainability tools of marine protected areas, property-rights based management, and demand-side incentives, and 2), strategically selected as proofs of concept, which, if successful, will be scalable across the globe. The demonstration projects will link our research and development expertise with innovative partners who have proven skills at implementing reform in national and international settings.
Making a broader impact
This project will result in more resilient fishing communities, more sustainable fisheries, better functioning ecosystems, and increased quantity and quality of sustainable seafood. These benefits will be achieved by correctly aligning the interests of fisheries and conservation. By leveraging growing consumer demand for sustainable seafood, and linking this demand to proven supply-side changes, we will catalyze much more rapid reform of the world's fisheries. Our goal is not incremental progress. Rather we seek transformative solutions for ocean sustainability that can help reverse the global tide of decline.
Scoping & Development of SOS demonstration projects
We reviewed seven projects for potential selection as SOS demonstration projects. The scoping process was designed to systematically evaluate a range of potential projects in order to identify the top candidates. We modeled our scoping process after feasibility studies and opportunity analyses typically conducted for potential new business ventures. We believe that on-the-ground scientific and conservation efforts should follow the same type of rigorous evaluations conducted in the field of business in order to ensure that limited resources (financial, personnel, technical expertise) are strategically deployed for maximum impact.
The seven projects we scoped as potential demonstration projects were:
- Marine spatial planning in Bermuda nearshore waters
- Streamlining certification to incentivize sustainability of California fisheries
- Designing a Peru-Chile transboundary MPA to increase the sustainability of anchoveta fish stocks
- Data-poor stock assessment and MPA design in Galapagos
- Reforming fisheries management through industry-led initiatives in Indonesia (e.g., Lesser Sunda Sustainable Fisheries Initiative)
- Evaluating property rights and MPAs as solutions to the weak stock bycatch problem for the West Coast Groundfish Fishery
- Providing technical expertise to Rare: Rules of thumb for site selection, designing coupled TURF-reserve systems, and data-poor community fisheries management
Of these seven projects, we are proceeding with marine spatial planning in Bermuda, data-poor stock assessment and MPA design in Galapagos, and Rare rules of thumb for TURF-reserve design. We are continuing to scope the transboundary MPA and Indonesia industry-led reform projects to verify if identified barriers can be overcome. We recently received funding for the West Coast Groundfish Fishery project from NOAA Sea Grant; and more information about that project can be found here.
Photo credit: Dan Ovando