Sustainable Ocean Solutions


By leveraging growing consumer demand for sustainable seafood, and linking this demand to proven supply-side changes, this will catalyze much more rapid reform of the world's fisheries.

bren_logo_vertical.cmykGrant Recipient: Bren School of Environmental Science & Mgmt
Project Support: Sustainable Fisheries Group
Term: 2010 – 2013

The Sustainable Ocean Solutions project combines three important tools for ocean sustainability – rights-based management reform, marine protected areas, and certification incentives – into novel solutions for the world’s fisheries challenges. When employed individually, these three conservation instruments can only successfully tackle a small percentage of ailing fisheries worldwide. A central challenge is to engineer 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 ecosystems, the basic insight is that 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.


The SFG team visits fishermen selling lobster roadside in Bermuda along with Bermuda government Senior Marine Resources Officer, Tammy Trott

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 fisheries certification, and (2) demonstration projects, strategically selected as proofs of concept, that, if successful, will be scalable across the globe. The team will use cutting-edge bioeconomic models and new assessment techniques to transform how fisheries are evaluated for sustainability certification, developing new quantitative approaches to give appropriate sustainability credit for proven management measures like MPAs and catch shares. Conversely, they will demonstrate how rights-based fisheries management and demand-side incentives can promote the implementation and expansion of MPA networks. The group will also explore how different types of rights-based management can be matched to the ecological and institutional characteristics of different fisheries. The demonstration projects will then link the research and development expertise with innovative partners who have demonstrated skills at implementing reform in national and international settings.


The SFG team and partners at TNC visit a fish market in the Lesser Sunda region of Indonesia.

This project will result in more resilient fishing communities, more sustainable fisheries, better functioning ecosystems, increased quantities and qualities of local fresh seafood, and a better alignment of demand for sustainable seafood and supply of a sustainable product. These benefits will be achieved by correctly aligning the interests of fisheries and conservation. By leveraging growing consumer demand for sustainable seafood, and linking this demand to proven supply-side changes, this will catalyze much more rapid reform of the world’s fisheries. The goal is not incremental progress. Rather, the project seeks a transformative solution for ocean sustainability that can help reverse the global tide of decline.

About the Sustainable Fisheries Group


SFG PI Robert Deacon, SFG postdoctoral researcher Jono Wilson and SFG partner Jeremy Prince on a fishing boat in Indonesia.

The Sustainable Fisheries Group (SFG), founded in 2006, is a collaboration between the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and the Marine Science Institute at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). The mission of the SFG is to provide leadership to develop new science and transform it into solutions for sustainable oceans. Their work seeks to utilize market approaches to increase the ecological and economic performance of fisheries and the sustainability of coastal communities. SFG brings diverse scientific expertise and intellectual capital to key partnerships with leading conservation organizations, local NGOs, and diverse stakeholder groups to find and implement solutions to critical ocean problems. A core goal of the SFG is to make measurable progress towards reforming individual fisheries using catch share management systems, conservation measures, and demand-side incentives. SFG has been involved in, or is currently working on, a variety of on-the-ground projects around the world.

The SFG team comprises experts in a variety of disciplines including marine ecology, resource economics, fisheries science, conservation practice, science communications, and policy. Their broad expertise helps us to understand the underlying roots of a problem and build creative, multifaceted solutions.

About the Bren School of Evnironmental Science & Management

Established in 1991, the Bren School is an interdisciplinary graduate program at the University of California, Santa Barbara focused on environmental problem solving through the integration of science, management, law, economics, and policy. The mission of the Bren School is to play a leading role in researching environmental issues, training scientists and environmental management professionals, and identifying and solving environmental problems around the world. Unique in the UC system and the only program of its kind in the western United States, the Bren School is considered one of a few top graduate programs of environmental science and management in the nation. The Bren School is housed in Bren Hall, a state-of-the-art building that is the first US Green Building Council’s double-Platinum LEED™ building anywhere.


Bren School Website
Sustainable Fisheries Group Website
University of California Santa Barbara Website


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