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Free Content Cooperative strategies in fisheries management: integrating across scales

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Fisheries management at its core is concerned with the management of human behavior. Management institutions operating at different spatial scales create different kinds of hierarchies, relationships, and incentives. Hence the scale at which management decisions are made can strongly influence their effectiveness. In the United States, top-down coast-wide control rules can create perverse harvest incentives, impose adverse social impacts, and result in poor conservation and economic performance. Some large-scale institutional changes (e.g., individual fishing quotas) have effectively realigned economic incentives of individual harvesters, but fishermen respond to a diversity of factors in addition to economic incentives, including environmental and social factors that operate primarily in small-scale U.S. fisheries or within subunits of larger-scale fisheries. Failure to address scale issues has resulted in disputes over "best available science" and opposition to management perceived as threatening. Small-scale cooperative strategies that empower fishing communities to strengthen local monitoring efforts and social networks are practiced throughout the world, with often impressive success, but have yet to become integrated into mainstream U.S. fisheries management. We assessed potential barriers and bridges to using cooperative strategies to improve sustainability of small-scale U.S. fisheries. We selected California's nearshore fishery to demonstrate the methods, but the analytical framework we present can be applied to many others. Of course, successful implementation will require more than good analysis. People and institutions interested in cooperative strategies must continue to assemble resources and political will to overcome the barriers to progress that exist in the United States.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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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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