Wild capture fisheries supply food and jobs for hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Yet an estimated 68% of global fisheries are overfished, contributing to food insecurity, economic impacts, and an erosion of biodiversity. Ocean health and sustainable fisheries both depend on effective fisheries management.

Effective management of fisheries requires three fundamental elements: data collection, stock assessment and implementation of effective rules and regulations. Innovative approaches and technological solutions such as data-limited assessments, electronic monitoring, and co-management can address these needs, but have yet to be scaled broadly.

California fisheries supply more than 250 species of local seafood. The Conservancy aims to ensure these fisheries are managed sustainably with cutting edge approaches and technology that improve the environmental and economic performance of fisheries, protect habitats and vulnerable species, reduce bycatch, and serve as a model for global fisheries management reform. 

Science in Action

Marine | Technology | Science

Closing the Abalone Data Gap

Can putting technology in the hands of citizen scientists transform how abalone are managed?

Marine | Planning | Science

FishPath

How can we help small-scale and data-limited fisheries manage their resource sustainably?

2019 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Opportunities to improve fisheries management through innovative technology and advanced data systems

Darcy Bradley, Matt Merrifield, Karly M. Miller, Serena Lomonico, Jono R. Wilson, Mary G. Gleason

A lack of fishery data leads to uncertainty about stock status, which may compromise and threaten the economic and food security of the users dependent upon that stock and increase the chances of overfishing. Recent developments in the technology available to collect, manage and analyze fishery-relevant data provide…


2019 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

An indicator‐based decision framework for the northern California red abalone fishery

William J. Harford, Natalie A. Dowling, Jeremy D. Prince, Frank Hurd, Lyall Bellquist, Jack Likins, Jono R. Wilson

Among abalone species that were once harvested along the California coastline, red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) supports the remaining recreational fishery. To support development of a red abalone fishery management plan, non‐governmental organizations have initiated expanded data collection and developed fishery management strategies. In this paper,…


2018 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Reducing bycatch through a risk pool: A case study of the U.S. West Coast groundfish fishery

Kate Kauer, Lyall Bellquist, Mary Gleason, Aliya Rubinstein, Joe Sullivan, Dwayne Oberhoff, Lisa Damrosch, Michelle Norvell, Michael Bell

This paper presents how voluntary collective agreements amongst fishermen can be used to reduce risk of bycatch of sensitive species and improve fishery performance in the West Coast groundfish fishery. We describe the challenges and results of designing and implementing an “insurance risk pool” to…


2018 | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Blogs

Managing Fisheries in the Face of Climate Change

Jono Wilson

The author discusses a need for a new paradigm in fisheries management to address the challenges of a changing climate.  See related publication by the author and colleagues in Conservation Letters.


2018 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

CA Rock Crab Fishery Management

Sean P. Fitzgerald, Jono R. Wilson , Hunter S. Lenihan

Despite the economic value of California fisheries, many lack information needed to determine if fishing is occurring at a sustainable level. The Southern California Rock Crab fishery in the Santa Barbara Channel is one such data-limited fishery that is currently managed through a state-wide size…


2018 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Adaptive comanagement to achieve climate‐ready fisheries

Jono R. Wilson, Serena Lomonico, Darcy Bradley, Leila Sievanen, Tom Dempsey, Michael Bell, Skyli McAfee, Christopher Costello, Cody Szuwalski, Huff McGonigal, Sean Fitzgerald, Mary Gleason

Climate change is amplifying threats to ocean ecosystems and marine fisheries worldwide. In order to respond appropriately in the face of these ocean changes, commercial and recreational fisheries management requires improved information collection, expanded utilization of diverse data sources, and enhanced decision-making. While advances in science and…


2018 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Partnerships in Fisheries Management

Wilson J. , McGonigal, H., Dempsey, T., Gleason, M., Rienecke, S.

Fisheries management in California is a complex, resource intensive process that is limited by funding and staff capacity. In this report, Conservancy scientists and colleagues identify ways in which non-governmental organizations and individuals, including fishermen, can engage in aspects of management. The report suggests that…


2017 | Marine | Technology | Science | Video

Aquaculture by Design, Tomales Bay

Serena Lomonico, Robert Jones, Torrey Johnson, Sarah Newkirk, Sarah Lummis, Kirk Klausmeyer, John Finger, Terry Sawyer, Richard James

Aquaculture is becoming an increasingly important global food source. With this growth comes urgent, unanswered questions about the interactions of aquaculture operations—both positive and negative—and ecosystems. This video describes a collaboration between the Conservancy, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Hog Island Oyster Company aimed at…


2017 | Marine | Technology | Video

Big Data and the Deep Blue Sea

The Nature Conservancy, Matt Merrifield

Nearly half of the world depends on seafood for their main source of protein. In the Western and Central Pacific, where 60% of the world’s tuna is caught, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices are threatening marine ecosystems, global seafood supplies and local livelihoods. This…


2016 | Marine | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Market and design solutions to the short-term economic impacts of marine reserves

Daniel Ovando, Dawn Dougherty, Jono R. Wilson

No-take marine reserves are a management intervention that can provide long-term fishery benefits. But, impacts of reserve implementation can negatively affect fishermen profits in the short term. This study examines how to overcome the losses in profit associated with implementing reserves. The authors found that creative…


2016 | Marine | Technology | Science | Video

Sustainable Management of Abalone Fishery in California

The Nature Conservancy, Jono Wilson

California fisheries, like the red abalone fishery, are facing increasing environmental variation and uncertainty due to climate change, complicating the sustainable management of commercial and recreational fisheries and threatening the resilience of fishing communities. To better manage these resources, better data is needed. In this video,…


2015 | Marine | Science | Video

Science for Nature and People Partnership: Data-Limited Fisheries Working Group

The Nature Conservancy, Jono Wilson

There are thousands of fisheries around the globe that lack the infrastructure, capacity, resources and management techniques to perform conventional assessments and management. We know that fisheries that get measured—that have stock assessments performed—are typically better managed, including increased regulation and enforcement. Conversely, when fisheries…


2015 | Freshwater | Marine | Publications & Reports

Climate mediates hypoxic stress on fish diversity and nursery function at the land–sea interface

Brent B. Hughes, Matthew D. Levey, Monique C. Fountain, Aaron B. Carlisle, Francisco P. Chavez, Mary G. Gleason

This comprehensive study of a major California estuary documents the links between nutrient runoff from coastal land use, the health of the estuary as a nursery for young fish, and the abundance of fish in an offshore commercial fishery. The researchers assembled long-term data sets…


2013 | Marine | Publications & Reports

A Transactional and Collaborative Approach to Reducing Effects of Bottom Trawling

Gleason M, Feller EM, Merrifield M, Copps S, Fujita R, Bell M, Rienecke S, Cook C

On the Central Coast of California, The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, local fishers and local, state, and federal authorities worked collaboratively to protect large areas of the seafloor from bottom trawling for groundfish while addressing economic impacts of trawl closures. This paper aims to…