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Conserv Biol. 2013 Jun;27(3):470-9. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12041. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

A transactional and collaborative approach to reducing effects of bottom trawling.

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  • 1The Nature Conservancy, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA. mgleason@tnc.org

Abstract

Private-sector financial and legal transactions have long been used to protect terrestrial habitats and working landscapes, but less commonly to address critical threats in marine environments. Transferrable and marketable fishing privileges, including permits and quotas, make it possible to use private-sector transactions as conservation strategies to address some fishery management issues. Abating the effects of bottom trawling on the seafloor and bycatch and discard associated with the practice has proven challenging. On the Central Coast of California, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Environmental Defense Fund, local fishers and local, state, and federal authorities worked collaboratively to protect large areas of the seafloor from bottom trawling for groundfish while addressing economic impacts of trawl closures. Contingent on the adoption of trawl-closure areas by a federal regulatory agency, TNC used private funds to purchase federal groundfish trawl permits and vessels from willing sellers. Trawl-closure areas were designed collaboratively by combining regional biological diversity and fisheries data with local fishers' knowledge. The private transactional strategy was designed to remedy some deficiencies in previous federal buyouts, to mitigate economic impacts from trawl closures, and to carefully align with a public regulatory process to protect "essential fish habitat" under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. This collaborative effort protected 1.5 million ha (3.8 million acres) of seafloor, reduced trawl effort in the area by 50%, and set a precedent for collaborative partnerships between conservation and fishing interests. This is the first time a large conservation organization has taken an ownership position in a fishery and demonstrates how nongovernmental organizations can invest in fisheries to improve environmental and economic performance.

© 2013 Society for Conservation Biology.

PMID:
23530985
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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