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Fishers' perceptions on the Chilean coastal TURF system after two decades: problems, benefits, and emerging needs

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Territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs) are becoming a widely promoted tool to enhance the sustainability of small-scale fisheries. In 1991, Chile established a national coastal TURF policy that gave legal authority to assign exclusive access rights to artisanal fisher organizations. In 2014, there were several hundred TURFs decreed to fisher organizations in different biophysical and socioeconomic settings. To date, research assessing TURF implementation has generally been based on a few case studies and have had mixed results. Here, we present results from a survey of 535 fishers from 55 different artisanal fisher organizations. The survey consisted of three open-ended questions that explore users' perceptions of the main problems, benefits, and improvements concerning assigned TURFs. We also sampled 55 presidents of artisanal fisher organizations to explore how they perceived the accomplishments of TURFs. Main key problems, as perceived by fishers, include increased costs associated with surveillance and poaching, and the variability and sometimes lack of financial returns. Despite strong price drops in exported species, TURFs have provided incentives for innovation and stewardship, and fishers are generally unwilling to relinquish them. In fact, fishers define TURF benefits in multiple dimensions, which include conservation/ ecological and territorial empowerment. Fisher presidents stress that although expectations of economic benefits have not been fully realized, territorial empowerment is a critical benefit. Through the analysis of fishers' perceptions on solutions to TURFs' problems, we highlight the development of stocking activities, combining TURFs with marine reserves, food traceability, and what we call BIO+ seafood— products that have associated biodiversity benefits.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES) & Centro de Conservacion Marina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile, Advanced Conservation Strategies, Córdoba, Spain, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106;, Email: [email protected]