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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  • Studies examining the efficacy of marine protected areas (MPAs) rarely consider the potential for noncompliance. Violation of MPAs will typically occur near boundaries, so perimeter-to-area ratios will be important determinants of actual protection, suggesting that MPAs should be larger and likely fewer. The author investigated these competing criteria with a spatially structured model of a hypothetical marine fishery exploiting a sedentary reef-dwelling organism. The results highlight the important effects of noncompliance in realized MPA benefits and can explain why observed and expected effects might differ. Moreover, the results support a call for increased attention to rates of noncompliance and their ecological effects and greater collaboration among natural scientists, social scientists, managers, and stakeholders in understanding and altering illegal behavior.
  • Accurate monitoring and data collection are critical for sustainable fisheries management. However, traditional monitoring and data collection methods face a number of challenges. Electronic Monitoring (EM)—a rapidly growing approach—has the potential to deliver flexible, cost-effective, accurate, and reliable monitoring and data collection systems to fisheries around the world. This guide synthesizes lessons from existing EM systems in order to identify the main characteristics, drivers, and design considerations associated with successful implementation and scaling of EM systems.
  • The practice of discarding—or returning a portion of the catch, dead or alive, to the ocean before offloading—has been a wasteful issue in fisheries for decades. The discard manual can help fishery stakeholders design a management system that aligns incentives to reduce and potentially eliminate discards.
  • Three decades of study have revealed dozens of examples in which natural systems have crossed biophysical thresholds (‘tipping points’)—nonlinear changes in ecosystem structure and function—as a result of human-induced stressors, dramatically altering ecosystem function and services. Environmental management that avoids such thresholds could prevent severe social, economic and environmental impacts. Here, we review management measures implemented in ecological systems that have thresholds.
  • Small-scale fisheries (SSF) account for most of the livelihoods associated with fisheries worldwide and support food security for millions globally, yet face critical challenges from local threats and global pressures. We describe how emerging concepts from social-ecological systems thinking can illuminate potential solutions to challenges facing SSF management, with real-world examples of three key themes: (1) external drivers of change; (2) social-ecological traps; and (3) diagnostic approaches and multiple outcomes in SSF. The purpose of this article is to aid practitioners by moving a step closer toward making these theoretical concepts operational and to stimulate thinking on how these linkages can inform a transition toward sustainability in small-scale fisheries.
  • At the time the Central Coast Sanctuaries were designated, oil development and ocean dumping were considered the most significant threats to the marine environment. Over time, less obvious threats to Sanctuary resources, such as overfishing and non-point source pollution, have become evident. Every year, new activities emerge that must be evaluated to see if they have the potential to damage Sanctuary resources. There are clear benefits to identifying emerging threats in order to address them early in their evolution. Regulation becomes more difficult as more and more investments are made in new technologies and activities with the potential to harm marine ecosystems. This chapter addresses some of the new or expanding activities that are likely to threaten Sanctuary resources in coming years.
  • Employment is an important, yet relatively understudied, aspect of fishery management. This paper, by JK Abbott, uses one of the best employment data sets to analyze the effects of catch shares in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Island (BSAI) crab fisheries.
  • The EU Discard Reduction Manual is tailored to the EU context and was written specifically to help EU fishermen, fishery managers and Member State regulators find ways to successfully implement the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) landing obligation requirements.
  • Without catch shares, fisheries have suffered from dramatic overfishing, resulting in high fishing costs, extensive job loss, and crumbling fishing communities. This infographic depicts the failures of conventional fisheries management.
  • We estimated pelagic larval duration (PLD) and age from the otolith microstructure of post-larval and juvenile gag, Mycteroperca microlepis (Goode and Bean, 1879). These estimates were used to: (1) estimate spawning periods; (2) evaluate lunar periodicity in spawning; (3) assess relationships between PLD and fertilization date, ingress date, capture date, and size at capture; and (4) compare juvenile growth rates in two consecutive years and with rates determined in previous studies. Our findings support the timing (January–April) of fishing closures on aggregations of spawning gag in the southeast US and suggest that post-settlement survival is not linked to PLD.