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Rare Rules of Thumb

Rare Rules of Thumb for Turf-Reserve Selection

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Marine reserves and rights-based fisheries management systems such as TURFs (Territorial User Rights Fisheries) are gradually becoming more commonly used to combat overfishing and aid transition to sustainable resource use. But neither is a panacea for realizing economic and conservation goals. If TURFs are smaller than the scale of movement of adults and larvae of the target species, incentives for stewardship by TURF owners could be compromised. Marine reserves can help overfished stocks recover, but are difficult and expensive to enforce; and sometimes have to be unrealistically large in order to enhance local fishery yields.

However it’s possible that combined TURF/marine reserve systems can offer the best of both worlds – the marine reserve portion can capture larval and adult spillover from the TURF and return benefits by protecting larger adults with high levels of reproduction that can in turn help sustain fished areas. Additionally, individual ownership of fishing areas near marine reserves can provide motivation to better enforce protected areas. By designing models to explore the interactions of these systems, we can examine if a “TURF-reserve” can compensate for the individual drawbacks of each approach and yield more benefits for conservation and fishing communities.

We are partnering with several organizations to apply our results: Rare is a unique conservation organization which trains local conservation leaders all over the world to change the way their communities relate to nature. We are currently working with Rare by developing rigorous science-based best practices to assist them with site selection for their sustainable fisheries campaigns; including rules-of-thumb for marine protected areas and combined TURF-reserve systems that will more effectively meet Rare’s goals and community expectations. We are also collaborating with The Nature Conservancy in Chile to examine how TURF-reserve systems could be optimally implemented near the Valdivia Coastal Reserve.

Photo credit: Michaela Clemence