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Two lobster tales: lessons from the convergent evolution of TURFs in Maine (USA) and the Juan Fernández Islands (Chile)

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Overexploitation plagues common property marine resources in a seemingly endless replay of the tragedy of the commons. Territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs) counter this by controlling access and reducing incentives to compete for larger shares of the resource. Two lobster TURF systems evolved convergently in Maine, USA, and Juan Fernández Islands, Chile. The Homarus americanus H. Milne-Edwards, 1837 lobster fishery in Maine has informal group territories, whereas the Jasus frontalis (H. Milne-Edwards, 1837) fishery in the Juan Fernández Islands has individually-owned fishing spots called marcas. Both fisheries use small day boats, both have a long history of protecting reproductive and juvenile lobsters, and both evolved informal fishing territories. Although TURFs limited new entrants in both cases, fishing effort grew, prompting both fisheries to support formal limited-entry regulations. Both lobster populations have expanded in recent decades. Maine's 30-yr increase in lobster landings stimulated fishers to use larger boats with increased fishing capacity and range to exploit offshore lobsters that have been increasing in abundance, but where territorial rights do not exist. Nevertheless, trap limits have led to more equitable access. In Juan Fernández, power winches increased trap-hauling rates, leading some fishers to advocate trap limits. The TURF system of marcas appears to have limited effort, but it has not prevented the accumulation of marcas by individuals. We conclude these TURFs have addressed the problem of exclusion and have growing lobster populations. It is unknown if TURFs can respond effectively to external factors, such as climate change, that may lead to declining populations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Maine, School of Marine Sciences, Darling Marine Center, Walpole, Maine 04575;, Email: [email protected] 2: Centro para el Estudio de Sistemas Marinos, Centro Nacional Patagónico – CONICET Blvd. Brown 2915, U 9120 ACF Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina 3: Departamento de Oceanografia, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile 4: University of Maine, School of Marine Sciences, Darling Marine Center, Walpole, Maine 04575

Publication date: 2017-01-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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