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?

2021 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

A Structured Approach for Kelp Restoration and Management Decisions

Mary G. Gleason, Jennifer E. Caselle, Walter N. Heady, Vienna R. Saccomanno, Julie Zimmerman, Tristin Anoush McHugh, Norah Eddy

Global kelp forests are biodiverse and productive nearshore ecosystems that provide a wide range of ecosystem services, but they are at risk from both local stressors and global drivers of kelp loss. A structured decision making (SDM) framework can help guide kelp management and restoration…


2021 | Marine | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

The rise in climate change-induced federal fishery disasters in the United States

Lyall Bellquist, Vienna Saccomanno, Brice X. Semmens, Mary Gleason, Jono Wilson

The health of ocean ecosystems is critical to maintaining natural biodiversity and sustainable fisheries, but federally-declared fishery disasters are reflecting devastating impacts to ecosystems, economies, and communities. This study represents the first nationwide synthesis of fishery disasters during the 30-year history of the federal assistance…


2021 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Beyond Protection: Fisheries Co-Benefits of No-Take Marine Reserves

Jono R Wilson, Darcy Bradley, Kristina Phipps, Mary G Gleason

Overfishing threatens the health and resilience of the ocean. In response, the global conservation community has set ambitious targets for protecting biodiversity inside no-take marine reserves. Yet fully protected marine reserves currently comprise only a small fraction of the ocean. In this review, the authors…


2021 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Opportunities for Fishery Partnerships to Advance Climate-Ready Fisheries Science and Management

Serena Lomonico, Mary G Gleason, Jono R Wilson, Darcy Bradley, Kate Kauer, Richard J Bell, Thomas Dempsey

Climate change poses unprecedented challenges to the sustainable management of wild capture fisheries. Management systems that improve the flow of information so that actionable steps can be taken are critical to ensuring our ocean is resilient and healthy. In this body of work, the authors…


2021 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Ecological Impact of Abandoned, Lost, and Discarded Fishing Gear

Eric Gilman, Michael Musyl, Petri Suuronen, Milani Chaloupka, Saeid Gorgin, Jono Wilson, Brandon Kuczenski

More than 4.5 million fishing vessels deploy fishing gear in the ocean every year. A significant amount of these nets, traps, lines, and floats are abandoned, lost, or discarded, threatening the health of ocean ecosystems through ghost fishing, transfer of microplastics, toxins and  invasive species,…


2021 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Triennial migration and philopatry in the critically endangered soupfin shark, Galeorhinus galeus

Andrew P. Nosal, Daniel P. Cartamil, Arnold J. Ammann, Lyall F. Bellquist, Noah J. Ben‐Aderet, Kayla M. Blincow, Echelle S. Burns, Eric D. Chapman, Ryan M. Freedman, A. Peter Klimley, Ryan K. Logan, Christopher G. Lowe, Brice X. Semmens, Connor F. White, Philip A. Hastings

Due to decades of heavy fishing pressure and steep population declines worldwide, the conservation status of the soupfin shark was elevated to Critically Endangered globally in 2020 by the IUCN. This species is commercially fished in the United States, but the fishery has not undergone a…


2021 | Marine | Planning | Publications & Reports

Beyond the boundaries: How regulation-centered marine protected area information improves ocean protection assessments

Jennifer Sletten, Mimi D’Iorio, Mary G. Gleason, Alex Driedger, Timoth´e Vincent, Claire Colegrove, Dawn Wright, Virgil Zetterlind

Understanding the complex seascape of regulations that apply across U.S. ocean waters is critical for effective marine resource management. This study found that cumulative restrictions from overlapping fisheries regulations often provide stronger levels of protection than traditional marine protected areas (MPAs). About 85% of U.S. waters are…


2020 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Effective fisheries management instrumental in improving fish stock status

Ray Hilborn, Ricardo Oscar Amoroso, Christopher M. Anderson, Julia K. Baum, Trevor A. Branch, Christopher Costello, Carryn L. de Moor, Abdelmalek Faraj, Daniel Hively, Olaf P. Jensen, Hiroyuki Kurota, L. Richard Little, Pamela Mace, Tim McClanahan, Michael C. Melnychuk, Cóilín Minto, Giacomo Chato Osio, Ana M. Parma, Maite Pons, Susana Segurado, Cody S. Szuwalski, Jono Wilson, Yimin Ye

Does fisheries management work at improving the status of fish stocks? The answer is a resounding, yes. This article compiles estimates of the status of global fish stocks, comprising roughly half of the world’s fish catch. Findings suggest that on average, fish stocks are increasing…


2020 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Unusual occurrences of fishes in the Southern California Current System during the warm water period of 2014–2018

H.J. Walker Jr., Philip A. Hastings, John R. Hyde, Robert N. Lea, Owyn E. Snodgrass, Lyall F. Bellquist

In response to anomalously warm sea-surface temperatures, poleward shifts in the geographic range of hundreds of marine organisms worldwide have been documented. This paper reports on the unusual occurrences of 36 fish species recorded from the Southern California Current System (SCCS) during the period of…


2020 | Freshwater | Marine | Science | Microsite

State of Salmon in California

Sally Liu, Megan Webb, Jeanette Howard, Jennifer Carah

Chinook, coho and steelhead were once tremendously abundant in most of California’s major rivers and streams. As recently as the 1960s, salmon and steelhead were so plentiful in streams that horses would get spooked trying to cross. Due to water damming and diversions, habitat degradation and…


2019 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Collaborative research reveals cryptic declines within the multispecies California rock crab fishery

Sean P. Fitzgerald , Hunter S. Lenihan, Jono R. Wilson, Carolynn S. Culver, Matthew Potoski

This paper highlights the benefits of collaborative fisheries research in the management of wild capture fisheries. The authors teamed up with commercial fishermen in the southern California rock crab fishery and sampled over 45,000 crabs over a two-year period. Using statistical techniques, they compared these data to a study…


2019 | Freshwater | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Insights into estuary habitat loss in the western United States using a new method for mapping maximum extent of tidal wetlands

Laura S. Brophy, Correigh M. Greene, Van C. Hare, Brett Holycross, Andy Lanier, Walter N. Heady, Kevin O’Connor, Hiroo Imaki, Tanya Haddad, Randy Dana

The authors of this study generated new maps of current and historical tidal wetlands in 450 estuaries throughout Washington, Oregon, and California. Using laser-mapping technology known as LIDAR combined with water elevation models, the team estimated that West Coast estuaries historically covered nearly 2 million acres.…


2019 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

eCatch: Enabling collaborative fisheries management with technology

Matt Merrifield, Mary Gleason, Lyall Bellquist, Kate Kauer, Dwayne Oberhoff, Chad Burt, Steve Reinecke, Michael Bella

In 2006, The Nature Conservancy of California purchased 13 federal groundfish permits in California with the objective of managing the fishing and reporting activities in a manner that protected sensitive habitats and species. At that time, collecting data for this fishery was done with paper…


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…