From Racing to Rights: Emerging Strategies for Improving Fisheries Managment in North America

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"Fisheries management in the US and North America is in a state of flux, with numerous fisheries in a state of crisis, the Magnuson-Stevens Act up for review, and the publication of the federal and Pew ocean commission reports advocating reform. Supporters of rights-based fisheries management argue there are viable alternatives to the current centralized command-and-control model, a middle path that grants fishermen the right to manage fisheries, but also assigns them the responsibility to steward those resources wisely. This approach can take several forms, including community-based fisheries management (CBFM), cooperative arrangements that include consensual or regulated access to fisheries, territorial user rights fisheries (or TURFs), and individual fishing quotas (IFQs, which when they can be traded, sold or bartered, are known as ITQs, for individual transferable quotas). There are key differences among these various rights-based approaches. The type of approach applied and specific rules governing the fishery must be compatible with the fishery in question and the social and economic objectives of the participants. The common threads running through each approach is protection of healthy stocks, the need to limit access to a level that allows those participating to achieve profitability, and an increased level of self-governance. That's why the Sand County Foundation was so keen to sponsor this workshop on 'Emerging Strategies for Improving Fisheries Management.' The chief aim of the Foundation, which is active in both North America and Africa, is to support private-sector efforts at conservation. And this interest is not isolated: the workshop in Del Mar, California was the second of five planned within a span of less than 12 months to discuss CBFM in the US."