Sustainable Ocean Solutions through Rights-Based Management, Fisheries Certification, and Marine Protected Areas

Award Period
Award Amount
Agency Name
Waitt Family Foundation
Award Number
PI First Name
PI Last Name
Steven Gaines
Christopher Free
Area/s of Research
Marine Conservation, Policy and Education

The Sustainable Ocean Solutions (SOS) project, made possible by the generous support of the Waitt Foundation, combines three important tools for ocean sustainability – rights-based management reform, marine protected areas, and demand-side incentives – into novel solutions for the world’s fisheries challenges. When employed individually, these three instruments can only successfully tackle a small percentage of ailing fisheries worldwide. A central challenge is to develop fisheries management systems to facilitate synergies among these approaches, thus capitalizing on their complementary strengths while overcoming their individual weaknesses. Although the necessary elements may differ across fisheries and settings, by combining changes that affect the supply of fish (such as catch shares), with conservation measures (such as MPAs), and tools that change consumer demand (such as fisheries certification), fisheries, communities, and ecosystems can simultaneously prosper.

Our Approach

This project uses a two-pronged approach, focusing on 1) research and development, determining how and in what contexts to combine the sustainability tools of marine protected areas, property-rights based management, and demand-side incentives, and 2) demonstration projects, strategically selected as proofs of concept, which, if successful, will be scalable across the globe. The demonstration projects will link our research and development expertise with innovative partners who have proven skills at implementing reform in national and international settings.