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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The EM Cost Calculator Tool is designed to help calculate the costs involved in implementing an Electronic Monitoring (EM) system for a wide range of fisheries in the United States. The costs of implementing an At-Sea Observer (ASO) based system are also calculated for comparison purposes. Cost estimates are based on current (2017) data collected through interviews with EM and ASO providers, as well as estimates found in the literature.
  • 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.