A PhD Dissertation Defense
"Designing Spatially Explicit Property Rights for Moving Fish"
Monday, March 13, 2017
Faculty Advisor: Steven Gaines
Committee Members: Christopher Costello and Benjamin Halpern
Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries (TURFs), which assign fishers exclusive access to portions of the coastline, have been shown to be an effective tool for small-scale fisheries management. However, assigning spatially explicit property rights in the ocean is challenging for one key reason: fish move. Up until now it was thought that TURF size should match the movement capacity of the species they target in order to be successful. Under this principle, if the size of the TURF is small relative to the scale of fish dispersal, most benefits of actions can be lost to neighboring fishing areas, and the motivation for reforms by TURF owners is reduced or eliminated. My PhD dissertation research challenges this idea, showing that small TURFs can, in fact, perform strongly. I then use bio-economic modeling to explain the apparent discrepancy between existing theory on TURF size and the contradictory empirical evidence. I find that 1) small TURFs with high levels of adult spillover can perform successfully under a wide range of cooperative arrangements between TURFs and 2) the success of small TURFs with high levels of larval spillover can be explained by incorporating age structure and market drivers into theoretical representations of TURFs.
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