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.

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  • This Design Manual is a comprehensive overview and roadmap of catch share design, drawing on hundreds of fisheries in more than 30 countries and expertise from more than 60 fishery experts from around the world. This is Volume 3: Territorial Use Rights For Fishing.
  • Catch shares are used in countries with a wide range of characteristics. This paper identifies and discusses catch share programs in developing countries, highlighting how these programs have been used in many different places and for a variety of fisheries.
  • Biological and ecological sustainability is vital to the success of fishery management approaches. This quantitative analysis, by Essington, T. E., et al., demonstrates that catch shares deliver more stable biomass and catches than other fishery management strategies.
  • Among the largest area-based fishing rights programs in the world, the Chilean TURF system includes more than 17,000 artisanal fishermen and co-manages more than 550 distinct areas along the coast.
  • Cooperatives are increasingly proposed as solutions for sustainable fisheries management. There is little empirical evidence comparing the actions of cooperative fisheries across a diverse set of environments. This study applies a standardized survey method to collect data from a set of cooperatively managed fisheries from around the globe, documenting their social, economic, and ecological settings as well as the cooperative behaviors in which they engage and the role they play in conservation.
  • Management institutions operating at different spatial scales create different kinds of hierarchies, relationships, and incentives. Some large-scale institutional changes (e.g., individual fishing quotas) have effectively realigned economic incentives of individual harvesters, but fishermen respond to a diversity of factors in addition to economic incentives, including environmental and social factors. We assessed potential barriers and bridges to using cooperative strategies to improve sustainability of small-scale U.S. fisheries. We selected California's nearshore fishery to demonstrate the methods, but the analytical framework we present can be applied to many others.
  • As well as serving valuable biodiversity conservation roles, functioning no-take fishery reserves protect a portion of the fishery stock as insurance against future overfishing. So long as there is adequate compliance by the fishing community, it is likely that they will also sustain and even enhance fishery yields in the surrounding area. However, there are significant gaps in scientific knowledge that must be filled if no-take reserves are to be used effectively as fishery management tools. Unfortunately, these gaps are being glossed over by some uncritical advocacy. Here, we review the science, identify the most crucial gaps, and suggest ways to fill them, so that a promising management tool can help meet the growing challenges faced by coastal marine fisheries.
  • Plans for deep-sea mining could pose a serious threat to marine ecosystems.
  • Introduced for economic and biological reasons, these programs demonstrate how innovative design features can be used to promote social goals within a system.
  • Demographic parameters from seven exploited coral reef lutjanid species were compared as a case study of the implications of intrafamily variation in life histories for multispecies harvest management. Each species had a unique growth pattern, with differences in length-at-age and mean asymptotic fork length, but smaller species generally grew fast during the first 1–2 years of life and larger species grew more slowly over a longer period. The variability in life history strategies of these tropical lutjanids makes generalizations about lutjanid life histories difficult, but the fact that all seven had characteristics that would make them particularly vulnerable to fishing indicates that harvest of tropical lutjanids should be managed with caution.