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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  • Environmental heterogeneity frequently induces spatial variability in somatic growth, which can cause inter-population differences in reproductive output among organisms for which fecundity is dependent upon body size. Mean asymptotic body size, L∞, varies among populations of several reef fish species. Our study suggests that variation in L∞ within a network of interconnected subpopulations may not be an important determinant of population behavior under certain conditions, but might be important in coping with periods of persistent, system-wide recruitment failure. Key words: Growth, Asymptotic size, Recruitment variability, Spatial structure, Dispersal
  • Our publications highlight how good rights-based management design and accompanying tools can address existing challenges and maximize potential benefits.
  • Patchily distributed demersal marine organisms that possess a pelagic larval stage have the potential to form complex linkages among sedentary adult populations through larval dispersal. Effective management of such open populations requires that we know how they are organized and interact. Common research strengths and gaps among researchers working on reef fishes and benthic decapods are highlighted, as well as those areas given greater attention by one group, the lead of which the other group will need to follow. Finally, it is suggested that greater progress towards understanding dispersal and connectivity in the future will best be achieved by integrating the approaches we review into large-scale, multidisciplinary, collaborative research programs developed and carried out in association with natural resource managers.
  • The ocean science and policy communities articulate two prevailing arguments to encourage changes in human behavior that will result in conservation of marine biological diversity. The first is utilitarian and includes encouraging the sustainable use of exploited ocean resources (i.e., prudent use of the public commons) and conserving particular attributes of the environment that provide ecosystem services such as processing wastes from human activities. The other is ethical and includes valuing biological diversity for its inherent properties and believing in its conservation for its own sake. Are these two approaches alone sufficient to build the social consensus needed to alter human behavior and implement programs to preserve and restore the world's oceans?
  • Developing a deep understanding about the condition of a fishery across bio-ecological, governance and management, markets and finance, and socio-cultural systems is important for determining challenges and opportunities to sustainable management. Use this tool to diagnose the current conditions of the critical components for sustainable fisheries at a site.
  • This User Guide accompanies the Diagnostic Scorecard. Download this User Guide for detailed instructions on using the Tool.
  • A growing push to implement catch share fishery programs is based partly on the recognition that they may provide stronger incentives for ecological stewardship than conventional fisheries management. Using data on population status, quota compliance, discard rates, use of habitat-damaging gear, and landings for 15 catch share programs in North America, I tested the hypothesis that catch share systems lead to improved ecological stewardship and status of exploited populations.
  • Because conventional markets value only certain goods or services in the ocean (e.g. fish), other services provided by coastal and marine ecosystems that are not priced, paid for, or stewarded tend to become degraded.Coastal socio-ecosystems are particularly susceptible to these market failures. Here, we describe ‘ecomarkets’ – markets and financial tools – that could generate value for broad portfolios of coastal ecosystem services by addressing the unique problems of the coastal zone, including the lack of clear management and exclusion rights.
  • National and international legislation provide impetus for implementation of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) in the northeast region of the United States. EBFM provides a coherent means to reconcile conflicts among fisheries as well as ultimately simplifying the management system. Three approaches are considered. The challenges and opportunities afforded by EBFM are discussed as well as potential institutional changes and the next steps of implementation.
  • If managed sustainably, the world’s fisheries could be worth an extra $50 billion annually and the global fish harvest could be 40% higher. In some cases, efforts to improve a fishery management system are undermined by factors related to how management institutions are structured and how they operate. We evaluated case studies in marine management against this list of 19 Effective Governance Attributes and assessed the effects of governance attributes and the distribution of rights and responsibilities on stewardship incentives.