Events & Media

Group Project Outcomes Published
Students created a useful tool for marine spatial planning, especially in data-poor small-scale fisheries

Results from the Bren School’s 2015 “TURFtools” Master’s Group Project were published in the University of Miami’s Bulletin of Marine Science in October. The article outlines a marine spatial planning tool developed by the group to aid in designing what are known as “TURF-reserve” management strategies. TURF-reserve management pairs territorial use rights fisheries (TURFs) with no-take marine protected areas to restore depleted fish stocks and prevent further overfishing in small-scale fisheries. (Read the full article)

Photograph by Rebecca Weeks/Marine Photobank

In the TURF-reserve approach, a set number of individuals are granted exclusive fishing access to the fishery, and marine reserves are established, where no fishing is allowed. If the system is designed correctly, spillover from the no-take reserves increases fish stocks, while access restrictions ensure that the increased stocks are fished sustainably going forward.

Determining the correct access-restriction level and creating a network of reserves is a complex undertaking that can benefit from a spatial design tool. But existing tools of this kind have significant drawbacks for managers, because they are data-intensive and require specific expertise and an internet connection. The article describes a more management-friendly TURF-reserve design tool that was developed by Bren graduate co-authors Jennifer Macy, Kaia Joye Moyer, Rodrigo Oyanedel, Salvador Rodríguez Van Dyck and Keith Shattenkirk (all MESM 2015) for their Group Project titled “A Decision Support Framework for Designing Territorial Use Rights for Fishing.

In their work, the group created an easy-to-use spreadsheet-based tool for designing TURF-reserve systems in remote and data-poor locations. The spreadsheet approach incorporates spatial, ecological, and economic inputs to model and compare the relative merits of various proposed TURF-reserve designs. When empirical data is unavailable, the tool allows managers to assign values to general specie(s) information and locals’ long-term qualitative knowledge of the fishery and marine habitat.

The publication of the authors’ work demonstrates the relevance and real-world applicability of the tool they developed and highlights the complex environmental problem-solving abilities Bren’s master’s students provide to their Group Project clients.