Environmental Defense Fund's Sustainable Fisheries Toolkit is the leading online resource for science-based information on rights-based management. No single organization in the world has invested more time or resources on rights-based management or education. Use the filters below to explore EDF’s fishery tools, manuals, case studies, academic studies, reports, and activities.

Visit Google Scholar’s page on RBM for additional studies.

  • The CARE tool is used to quantify the resilience of the marine ecosystem and threat of fishing relative to other non-fishing threats to determine impacts on the potential success of fishery management.
  • What’s the Catch? provides players with the opportunity to experience the perils of conventional fisheries management and the benefits of sustainable fishing practices. Download the game instructions and a pre-programmed Excel file to help you keep score.
  • Small-scale coastal fisheries are central to the health of the ocean, livelihood, poverty alleviation and food security for millions around the world, but today many of them are severely threatened by chronic overfishing. TURF-Reserves are an approach to managing many small-scale fisheries around the world.
  • The management and conservation of the world's oceans require synthesis of spatial data on the distribution and intensity of human activities and the overlap of their impacts on marine ecosystems. We developed an ecosystem-specific, multiscale spatial model to synthesize 17 global data sets of anthropogenic drivers of ecological change for 20 marine ecosystems. Our analysis indicates that no area is unaffected by human influence and that a large fraction (41%) is strongly affected by multiple drivers. However, large areas of relatively little human impact remain, particularly near the poles. The analytical process and resulting maps provide flexible tools for regional and global efforts to allocate conservation resources; to implement ecosystem-based management; and to inform marine spatial planning, education, and basic research.
  • Marine and coastal ecosystems provide important benefits and services to coastal communities across the globe, but assessing the diversity of social relationships with oceans can prove difficult for conservation scientists and practitioners. This presents barriers to incorporating social dimensions of marine ecosystems into ecosystem-based planning processes. Following a global assessment of social research and related planning practices in ocean environments, we present a step-by-step approach for natural resource planning practitioners to more systematically incorporate social data into ecosystem-based ocean planning.
  • Private-sector financial and legal transactions have long been used to protect terrestrial habitats and working landscapes, but less commonly to address critical threats in marine environments. Transferable and marketable fishing privileges, including permits and quotas, make it possible to use private-sector transactions as conservation strategies to address some fishery management issues. Abating the effects of bottom trawling on the seafloor and bycatch and discard associated with the practice has proven challenging. This collaborative effort protected 1.5 million ha (3.8 million acres) of seafloor, reduced trawl effort in the area by 50%, and set a precedent for collaborative partnerships between conservation and fishing interests.
  • The purpose of this chapter is to consider the question “Is it necessary to validate the periodicity of increment formation in every species of fish for which we seek age-based demographic data”? The focus is on coral reef fishes. Four issues require consideration. Firstly, validation programs are expensive in terms of resources and time. This is especially important for coral reef fishes as resources available to tropical fisheries are often very limited. Secondly, many modern techniques used to validate the accuracy of age estimates require field and laboratory infrastructure that may not be available to fisheries laboratories serving coral reefs. Thirdly, the great majority of validation studies have confirmed the annual periodicity of increment formation. Fourthly, opportunities to study undisturbed populations of reef fishes from which reference age data can be derived are limited due to over-fishing and habitat alteration. The authors argue for a more strategic approach to age-based studies in coral reef fishes.
  • In addition to driving sustainable resource use, the Argentine ITQ program has been used as a mechanism to achieve national economic development goals. The multi-criteria allocation process has incentivized domestic employment and investment in the economy within the fishing industry.
  • Coral reefs support numerous ornamental fisheries, but there are concerns aboutstock sustainability due to the volume of animals caught. Such impacts are difficult to quantify and manage because fishery data are often lacking. Here, we suggest a framework that integrates several data-poor assessment and management methods in order to provide management guidance for fisheries that differ widely in the kinds and amounts of data available.
  • Catch shares are used widely in the United States and British Columbia. This study reviewed the performance of programs in these regions and found that catch share programs deliver significant environmental, economic and social improvements when compared to traditional management practices. Read more.