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Ocean Halos: marine zoning in small-island countries

Matthew Burgess

This project examines the accidental subsidies small-island countries provide to foreign fishing fleets, and strategies they may use to recover some of the value, as well as limit the damage to their fish stocks. The territorial waters of small-island countries tend to have less fishing pressure and healthier fish populations than nearby high seas. As a result, fish flow across the territorial boundaries, and foreign fishing effort concentrates near these boundaries, to benefit from the fish spillover. This spillover is effectively a subsidy, which comes at a cost to the domestic fish stocks. We are designing new marine zoning policies that could allow small-island countries to recover some of the value of these accidental subsidies, and limit their ecological damage. These policies would involve small-island countries leasing small amounts of fishing rights within their waters to foreign vessels, and using the proceeds for domestic projects such as conservation or community development. The Sustainable Fisheries Group at University of California Santa Barbara, and The Nature Conservancy, are partners in this project.