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Trans-boundary marine protected area design in Peru and Chile


The anchoveta fisheries in Peru and Chile are among the largest single-species fisheries in the world, and are collectively worth billions of dollars annually. There are three separate stocks of anchoveta in the region: one in Peru, one in Chile, and one that straddles the border between Peru and Chile. This trans-boundary fishery is fished harder by both Peru and Chile relative to each national stock because of the shared perception that any fish left in the water will be lost to the other country. This competitive harvesting strategy, or “race to fish”, is common to fisheries around the world that span international borders, and increases the vulnerability of the stock to overfishing - often resulting in lost profits for all nations involved.

Cooperative management between countries could alleviate these problems and improve both the profitability and sustainability of the fishery. However despite the potential economic and ecological upsides of cooperative fisheries management, these types of international agreements are often politically unfeasible and difficult to enforce.

To overcome these challenges, we are interested in developing bioeconomic models to evaluate the potential biological and economic outcomes of implementing a no-take marine protected area (MPA) of various sizes along the border of Peru and Chile. This could protect the stock and improve fisheries management of this trans-boundary fish population. To motivate this management reform and increase stakeholder buy-in, we also propose innovative financing mechanisms which would insure fishermen against any potential risks resulting from this conservation measure.

The Peru/Chile trans-boundary fishery provides an important opportunity to test innovative methods of improving the sustainability of international fisheries. A unique aspect of this project is the economically-driven incentive for a large marine protected area. Traditionally, MPAs are driven first and foremost by conservation interests. Within this project, however, an MPA is a means to overcome non-cooperative management and improve fisheries profits, in addition to creating considerable conservation benefits from such a large MPA. If successful, this project would offer a replicable solution that could provide substantial improvements to mismanaged international fisheries where a large fraction of the fishery occurs within national waters.

Photo Credit: Anchoveta: Jill Matsuyama