that reward conservative and efficient use of marine resources and their ecosystems.
At the core of today's overcapacity problem is the lack of, or ineffective, definition and assignment of rights in most fisheries. In addition, subsidies that circumvent market forces have contributed significantly to the overcapacity problem in many fisheries. Therefore, the committee recommends for many fisheries a management approach that includes the development and use of methods of allocation of exclusive shares of the fish resource or privileges and responsibilities (as opposed to open competition) and the elimination of subsidies that encourage overcapacity. A flexible and adaptive approach is essential, and careful attention must be given to equity issues associated with such approaches. The committee recommends experimental approaches to community-based fishery management, including the development of virtual communities. This would include research into the establishment of management groups in which participation is based on shared interests in a fishery and its associated ecosystem, with diminished emphasis on where participants live or their direct financial interests.
Where they have been used, marine protected areas—where fishing is prohibited—have often been effective in protecting and rebuilding ecosystems and populations of many (but not all) marine species. They often also lead to increases in the numbers of fish and other species in nearby waters. Importantly, they can provide a buffer against uncertainty, including management errors. Permanent marine protected areas should be established in appropriate locations adjacent to all the U.S. coasts. It will be important to include highly productive areas—that is, areas in which fishing is good or once was—if this management approach is to produce the greatest benefits.
Protected areas will make the most effective contribution to the management of species and ecosystems when they are integrated into management plans that cover the full life cycles and geographic ranges of the species involved. Smaller, fixed protected areas will be most effective for species with life stages that are spent in close association with fixed topography, such as reefs, banks, or canyons. For other species, the degree of effectiveness of protected areas will be related to the importance of fixed topography in various stages of their lives. Wholly or largely pelagic species move according to ocean currents or other factors that are not necessarily related to fixed topographic structures and are thus likely to benefit less from small protected areas.
The design and implementation of marine protected areas should involve fishers to ensure that they believe the resulting systems will protect their long-term interests and to improve operational integrity. Because attempts to develop marine protected areas in the United States have been strongly opposed by some fishers, the broad involvement of users is a key strategy. Current theory and