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Overcoming Challenges through Innovative Solutions

We view sustainability of fisheries through the lens of robust communities and ports, healthy fish stocks and their environment, and the availability of local, nutritious seafood. Our science helps to better align economic incentives for fishermen with ocean stewardship, creating implementable changes to ensure the long term health of coastal ecosystems.

In our ever-changing marine environment, dynamic tools are necessary for resolving new and evolving ocean challenges. We use market-based approaches, bioeconomic modeling and spatial analysis to create solutions to improve the status of marine resources around the world.

Our goal is to provide the scientific expertise to identify the best possible tools to tackle important problems facing the oceans. We also focus on publishing high impact papers to provide the scientific foundation for important management and policy reforms. These are some of the problems we are addressing with cutting-edge solutions:

Problem: Conflicting ocean uses

The world's oceans are becoming increasingly crowded with fishing, energy development, aquaculture, diving, whale watching, and many other uses. This is driving a need for more informed and strategic plans on how to reduce conflicts and optimize the value of competing uses of the marine environment.

Solution: Strategic marine planning

SFG is coupling bioeconomic and spatial modeling tools to assess tradeoffs and synergies between new and existing ocean uses to create optimal plans that manage for multiple goals.


Problem: Open access fisheries

Fisheries have traditionally been managed as open access resources, where entry to the fishery is legally or practically unrestricted. Open access conditions can lead to problems such as overfishing, market flooding, and destructive practices, which drive down the value and sustainability of the fishery.

Solution: Rights-based management

Using ecological and economic theory, together with analyses of case studies of rights-based and cooperative management, SFG is designing and evaluating practical, collaborative and effective tools for fisheries management.


Problem: Managing fisheries under uncertainty

Many fisheries around the world lack sufficient data for well informed assessment and management. As a result, fisheries are often managed under great uncertainty, which can lead to overfishing or precautionary management than can be economically harmful to fishermen.

Solution: Data deficient assessment

SFG is developing new methods of assessing and managing data deficient fisheries. These approaches are less costly and data-intensive than traditional stock assessments, and can determine the status of fish populations to improve management. Providing methods to cost-effectively assess the status of data deficient fisheries is an essential component to sustainable fisheries management.


Problem: Barriers to sustainable seafood certification

Increasing global concern about declining fish stocks has led to a rise in demand for sustainability labels for seafood. However, most fisheries around the world face insurmountable hurdles to certification because of the high costs, complexity and data intensity of current certification programs. Additionally, many conservation efforts such as marine protected areas (MPAs) fail to receive any kind of formal credit in these certification schemes.

Solution: Improved sustainable seafood evaluation

SFG is developing simplified and cost-effective approaches to help fisheries overcome barriers to traditional certification programs. These approaches also reward fishermen for conservation efforts such as MPAs, creating new incentives to support MPA benefits.


Problem: Risk aversion to reform

Despite scientific evidence about the ecological and economic benefits of fisheries reform, people are often resistant to change. This reluctance often stems from the perceived high financial risk and uncertainty surrounding the effects of reform.

Solution: Innovative financing to drive fisheries reform

SFG is exploring financial mechanisms to help people overcome their risk aversion to fisheries management reform by  insuring fishermen and other stakeholders against the possible downsides of reform.




Photo credits from top to bottom: Header: RebeccaWeeks/MarinePhotobank, Windmill: Phil Hollman; Fish: Andrew Rassweiler; Small scale fishery: RebeccaWeeks/MarinePhotobank; Swordfish: Gerick Bergsma 2011/Marine Photobank; Fishermen protest: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT