Benthic Habitats and the Effects of Fishing

Place Matters: Spatial Tools for Assessing the Socioeconomic Implications of Marine Resource Management Measures on the Pacific Coast of the United States

Astrid J. Scholz, Mike Mertens, Debra Sohm, Charles Steinback, and Marlene Bellman


Abstract. Fishery management measures, such as the reduction of excess fishing capacity, and conservation measures, such as networks of marine protected areas, have considerable socioeconomic impacts. Users of marine resources—commercial and recreational fishermen, boaters, divers, and others—experience direct and indirect costs and benefits from such measures, notably foregone earnings and changing economic opportunities. In this paper, we present results and tools from a 2- year project to build an integrated, spatially explicit analytical framework for assessing management options such as fleet reductions and area closures on the West Coast of the United States, using the groundfish fleet as an example. After developing an extensive relational database comprising fisherydependent, ecological, and socioeconomic data, we built a regional geographic information system (GIS) and assessed the relative impacts of five management scenarios. The results are spatially explicit and specific to particular communities, gear groups, fishing fleets, and ecological habitats, thus allowing decision makers to consider a range of issues that present themselves in management situations. The GIS makes for an intuitive interface that allows for participatory and consensusoriented approaches to fishery management.