It is commonly agreed that marine conservation should expand considerably around the world. However, most countries have not yet implemented large-scale no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). When a country closes a large fraction of its waters to fishing, it stands to lose a considerable level of fishery revenue. Although biodiversity and spillover fishing benefits may far exceed these losses, benefits from large-scale MPAs typically accrue to other countries or to the high seas. Here, to overcome this dilemma, we simulate and test an international fisheries management scheme with transferable fishing rights that incentivizes, rather than hinders, large-scale marine conservation. By combining a bioeconomic model of cross-country trading of fishing rights with vessel-level tracking data before and after a large-scale conservation action is implemented, we show that transferable fishing rights and a biomass-based allocation rule are pivotal to incentivize conservation under this market-based setting. Our work focuses on the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS)—an environmental market that is employed by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (a group of nine Pacific Island nations) to manage their tuna fisheries—and areas in which large-scale conservation interventions have taken place. Overall, these results provide a template for how to incentivize countries to engage in large-scale marine conservation within a market-based setting.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.67 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
The data that support the findings of this study are available on GitHub at https://github.com/jcvdav/MPA_displacement.
The code that support the findings of this study are available on GitHub at https://github.com/jcvdav/MPA_displacement.
O’Leary, B. C. et al. Effective coverage targets for ocean protection. Conserv. Lett. 9, 398–404 (2016).
Dinerstein, E. et al. A global deal for nature: guiding principles, milestones, and targets. Sci. Adv. 5, eaaw2869 (2019).
Sala, E. & Giakoumi, S. No-take marine reserves are the most effective protected areas in the ocean. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 75, 1166–1168 (2017).
Sala, E. et al. Assessing real progress towards effective ocean protection. Mar. Pol. 91, 11–13 (2018).
Mcleod, E. et al. Lessons from the Pacific Islands—adapting to climate change by supporting social and ecological resilience. Front. Mar. Sci. 6, 289 (2019).
Ramesh, N., Rising, J. A. & Oremus, K. L. The small world of global marine fisheries: the cross-boundary consequences of larval dispersal. Science 364, 1192–1196 (2019).
Hernández, C. M. et al. Evidence and patterns of tuna spawning inside a large no-take marine protected area. Sci. Rep. 9, 10772 (2019).
Agardy, T. Justified ambivalence about MPA effectiveness. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 75, 1183–1185 (2018).
Havice, E. The structure of tuna access agreements in the western and central Pacific Ocean: lessons for vessel day scheme planning. Mar. Pol. 34, 979–987 (2010).
Havice, E. Rights-based management in the western and central Pacific Ocean tuna fishery: economic and environmental change under the vessel day scheme. Mar. Pol. 42, 259–267 (2013).
Aqorau, T., Bell, J. & Kittinger, J. N. Good governance for migratory species. Science 361, 1208–1209 (2018).
2016 Tuna Development Indicators (FFA, 2017); https://www.ffa.int/tunadev_indicators
Libecap, G. D. Distributional issues in contracting for property rights. J. Inst. Theor. Econ. 145, 6–24 (1989).
McCauley, D. J. Ending hide and seek at sea. Science 351, 1148–1150 (2016).
McDermott, G. R., Meng, K. C., McDonald, G. G. & Costello, C. J. The blue paradox: preemptive overfishing in marine reserves. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 116, 5319–5325 (2018).
Kroodsma, D. A. et al. Tracking the global footprint of fisheries. Science 359, 904–908 (2018).
Terawasi, P. & Reid, C. Economic and Development Indicators and Statistics: Tuna Fisheries of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (FFA, 2017); https://www.ffa.int/node/2050
Hanich, Q. et al. Unraveling the blue paradox: incomplete analysis yields incorrect conclusions about Phoenix Islands protected area closure. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 115, E12122–E12123 (2018).
Ferraro, P.J., Sanchirico, J.N. & Smith, M.D. Causal inference in coupled human and natural systems. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 116, 5311–5318 (2018).
Crespo, G. O. et al. High-seas fish biodiversity is slipping through the governance net. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 3, 1273–1276 (2019).
Rosegrant, M. W. & Binswanger, H. P. Markets in tradable water rights: potential for efficiency gains in developing country water resource allocation. World Dev. 22, 1613–1625 (1994).
Hutton, J. M. & Leader-Williams, N. Sustainable use and incentive-driven conservation: realigning human and conservation interests. Oryx 37, 215–226 (2003).
Sandbrook, C., Fisher, J., Holmes, G., Luque-Lora, R. & Keane, A. The global conservation movement is diverse but not divided. Nat. Sustain. 2, 316–323 (2019).
Roberts, C. M. et al. Marine reserves can mitigate and promote adaptation to climate change. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, 6167–6175 (2017).
Ban, N. C. et al. Well-being outcomes of marine protected areas. Nat. Sustain. 2, 524–532 (2019).
Costello, C. et al. Global fishery prospects under contrasting management regimes. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 113, 5125–5129 (2016).
Hagrannsoknir Review of the Purse Seine Vessel Day Scheme (PNA, 2014); https://go.nature.com/34fE6xH
Palau Arrangement for the Management of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Scheme (PNA, 2016); https://www.pnatuna.com/content/purse-seine-vds-text
R Core Team R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, 2017); http://www.R-project.org/.RCore Team
Yeeting, A. D., Weikard, H.-P., Bailey, M., Ram-Bidesi, V. & Bush, S. R. Stabilising cooperation through pragmatic tolerance: the case of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) tuna fishery. Reg. Environ. Change 18, 885–897 (2018).
We thank R. Dacks for research assistance. J.C.V.-D. was supported by UCMexus-CONACyT (CVU, grant no. 669403) and the Latin American Fisheries Fellowship Program. J.L. was supported by the Conservation Strategy Fund, with a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts and Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy. J.L. and C.C. acknowledge The Nature Conservancy.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Extended Data Fig. 1 Annual country-level vessel-days for all PNA countries by 318 tuna purse seiners.
Colors indicate ISO3 codes for each country (PLW: Palau, PNG: Papua New Guinea, FSM: Federal States of Micronesia, SLB: Solomon Islands, NRU: Nauru, MHL: Marshal Islands, KIR: Kiribati, TUV: Tuvalu, TKL: Tokelau). After 2015, vessel-days decrease for Kiribati and Increase for Papua New Guinea. Note that total vessel-days do not decrease at the PNA-level.
Extended Data Fig. 2 Annual fishing effort (hours) on a 1-degree grid around PIPA (red polygon) and Kiribati (black polygons).
There is no clear evidence of a “fishing the line” effect, with the greatest effort applied on the Gilbert islands (Kiribati) after 2015.
Extended Data Fig. 3 Longline and purse seine vessel-days in Palau during 2018 at a 0.5 degree resolution.
The red polygon shows the proposed Palau National Marine Sanctuary, containing 85.7% and 95.3% of longline and purse seine vessel-days, respectively. Note that the colorbars are presented in log10-transformed scale for better visualization.
Extended Data Fig. 4 Time series of the annual proportion of longline and purse seine vessel-days within the proposed PNMS boundaries.
The proposed PNMS boundaries have historically contained 86 ± 5.30% (±1SD) of longline vessel-days and 91.3 ± 5.03% (±1SD) of purse seine vessel-days.
About this article
Cite this article
Villaseñor-Derbez, J.C., Lynham, J. & Costello, C. Environmental market design for large-scale marine conservation. Nat Sustain (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0459-z