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Allocating Rights in Fisheries

EDF | 2017-2018

I was part of a small team of fisheries experts that worked on developing innovative approaches for allocating rights in fisheries that address the shortcomings of catch-history based methods, and that do so in a way that is fair and consistent with conservation.

In the process of managing a fishery for sustainability, determining who is granted access to the fishery, and how that access is distributed are decisions that carry significant social and economic implications.

Decisions about participation in the fishery and allocations of the harvest opportunity have often been made by considering the status quo of recent history in the fishery, i.e., who has been participating and what they have been catching.

Determining future access based on this status quo can present a number of challenges. For example, historically marginalized groups will not receive a fair share of the benefits flowing from the fishery.


The goal of this project was to come up with new solutions for allocating rights in fisheries that address the shortcomings of existing catch-history based methods. 


I led our team through a human-centered design (HCD) process to achieve this goal. We started with a literature review combined with expert and user interviews to really understand the challenges with existing approaches from the perspectives of those that have been impacted by, or were involved in making, allocation decisions. 


I designed and facilitated a workshop where our core team was joined by additional EDF staff, with expertise from across our regions. We reflected on our collective knowledge, identified key challenges, and developed  concepts for some new allocation approaches that meet the needs of fishery managers and stakeholders in diverse contexts.


We published a paper in Ocean and Coastal Management that captures this unique approach of using HCD to create solutions to an important challenge in fishery management.

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