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Efficiently enforcing artisanal fisheries to protect estuarine biodiversity

Costa MDP, Mills M, Richardson AJ, Fuller RA, Muelbert JH & Possingham HP (2018) Efficiently enforcing artisanal fisheries to protect estuarine biodiversity. Ecological Applications, 28, 1450-1458.

Artisanal fisheries support millions of livelihoods worldwide, yet ineffective enforcement can allow for continued environmental degradation due to overexploitation. Here, we use spatial planning to design an enforcement strategy for a pre‐existing spatial closure for artisanal fisheries considering climate variability, existing seasonal fishing closures, representative conservation targets and enforcement costs. We calculated enforcement cost in three ways, based on different assumptions about who could be responsible for monitoring the fishery. We applied this approach in the Patos Lagoon estuary (Brazil), where we found three important results. First, spatial priorities for enforcement were similar under different climate scenarios. Second, we found that the cost and percentage of area enforced varied among scenarios tested by the conservation planning analysis, with only a modest increase in budget needed to incorporate climate variability. Third, we found that spatial priorities for enforcement depend on whether enforcement is carried out by a central authority or by the community itself. Here, we demonstrated a method that can be used to efficiently design enforcement plans, resulting in the conservation of biodiversity and estuarine resources. Also, cost of enforcement can be potentially reduced when fishers are empowered to enforce management within their fishing grounds.

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