Establish territorial fishing use rights

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • One study examined the effects of establishing territorial fishing use rights in an area on marine fish populations. The study was in the Pacific Ocean (Tonga).





  • Reduction of fishing effort (1 study): One study in the Pacific Ocean found that there was no decrease in overall fishing effort in an area with new territorial fishing use rights and a co-management system, in the five years after implementation.
  • Commercial catch abundance (1 study): One study in the Pacific Ocean found that in an area with new territorial fishing use rights and a co-management system, total fish catch rates did not increase and catch rates of three of six individual fish groups decreased in the first five years.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A study in 2007–2011 of reef and lagoon areas of an inhabited coral reef island in the Pacific Ocean, Tonga (Webster et al. 2017) found that after establishing new territorial fishing rights (exclusion of fishers from outside areas) under a new co-management system in an area, total fish catch rates did not increase in the five years after, catch rates of half of the six individual species groups decreased and there was no decrease in overall fishing effort. No differences in total fish catch rates and catch rates of three of six fish groups (Acanthuridae - Naso spp., Holocentridae, Lethrinidae) were found since implementation, but catch rates of the remaining three (Acanthuridae - Acanthurus spp., Scaridae, Serranidae) decreased (data reported as statistical results). In addition, no difference in overall fishing effort was found (data reported as statistical results), but the authors reported that this was likely to be due to reduced travel to fishing grounds further away by resident fishers with the new exclusive rights. Co-management formally commenced on the island of ‘O’ua (one of 170 Tongan Islands) in 2007, covering a marine area of 4,606 ha, of which 203 ha is a no-take zone. Only residents on ‘Ou’a can fish the co-managed area, whereas before, there was access also to fishers from neighbouring islands and small commercial vessels from the main island group. Fish catch landings (species and weight/trip) were sampled each year between 2007–2011 (total 184 records), collected opportunistically from individual fishers (see original paper for fishing types). Catch data from spearfishing only was used for statistical analysis.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Taylor, N., Clarke, L.J., Alliji, K., Barrett, C., McIntyre, R., Smith, R.K., and Sutherland, W.J. (2021) Marine Fish Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Selected Interventions. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Marine Fish Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Marine Fish Conservation
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