Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


There are several natural and social conditions that can influence the creation and/or maintenance of effective localized TURFs. As noted above, effectiveness, in terms of efficiency criteria, can be measured by the value (economic or non-economic) associated with territorial use rights. This is a matter of degree and depends on the extent to which use of the resources outside the territory affects the value of use within the territory. Effectiveness, in terms of social criteria, depends upon how the value produced by the TURF is distributed. The following discussion is focussed on effectiveness in efficiency terms. Social effectiveness is discussed in the next section.

The important conditions that influence the creation and maintenance of an efficient localized TURF include those related to the resource; definability of boundaries; the technology used; cultural attitudes; wealth distribution effects; governmental systems; and legal and institutional frameworks. There is a high degree of inter-relationships among the conditions and none is sufficient, in itself, to provide the basis for an effective TURF. Several of the conditions are subject to change, which may result from economic forces, political developments, technological innovations, or new laws and institutions. In some cases, the changes can be influenced by society so as to create more favourable conditions for the creation and maintenance of localized TURFs.

A. Natural resource attributes

There are several resource attributes that have an influence on the potential or actual effectiveness of a localized TURF. Sedentary species can easily be made subject to territorial use rights -- either on the bottom or when attached to rafts. Distinct biomes such as those associated with either natural or artificial reefs also have favourable territorial aspects. Localized TURFs can be created for species which can be raised in a physically enclosed space, such as fish pens and cages; for species which are attracted to, and aggregate around, artificial devices; and for anadromous and catadromous species (e.g. salmon and eels) which migrate into fresh water.

It is more difficult to establish effective localized TURFs over species which do not have the above characteristics. However, in some cases, it may be possible to exercise satisfactory controls through cooperation among those holding neighbouring territorial rights. For example, a stock which migrates along a coastline could be subject to individual community use rights which, in turn, are limited or governed by joint controls over the amount of each community's gear or catch.

The resource conditions favourable to the creation or maintenance of localized TURFs are not restricted to sedentary species. Several other kinds of species, even highly migratory ones, may be effectively governed by territorial rights.

B. Boundaries

Territoriality is also strongly influenced by the degree to which the boundaries can be readily defined and defended. This is generally related to the natural attributes of the adjacent land. Boundaries can easily be associated with a small island or reef, a lagoon, a river mouth or other relatively small and distinct geographical features. There is also a relationship to land boundaries set by man. Communities or individuals can define marine territories along beaches and out to the distance that can be used by a beach seine or to a distance where activities are readily observable from shore. Boundaries can also be defined with regard to artificial devices placed on the sea surface as, for example, the circumference of a circle around a fish aggregation device. Generally, the easier it is to identify and define a boundary at sea, the easier it is to conduct surveillance and monitor the use of a territory.

C. Fishing technology

Different fishing techniques and gear also have an important effect on the creation and maintenance of territorial use rights. There are numerous kinds of gear that are fixed to the bottom -- pots, traps, set nets, trot lines, some longlines, weirs, etc. Sites for the placement of these kinds of gear can be made subject to territorial use rights on a permanent or seasonal basis. Effectiveness of a gear-associated TURF is dependent upon the size of the site, since numerous small sites may lead to large amounts of gear and small returns to each unit.

Gear or fishing techniques which require access to large areas of the sea (e.g. trawls and purse seines) do not readily permit the creation of TURFs. Furthermore, such mobile techniques may conflict with the use of stationary gear and reduce the value of TURFs associated with the latter.

Governments can thus influence the feasibility of establishing localized TURFs by regulations on the use of different techniques or gear or by programmes encouraging the development of different technologies. Rising prices for fuel may also have an effect to the extent that they make stationary gear more profitable.

D. Cultural factors

There are limited generalizations that can be made about the cultural conditions favouring or disfavouring the creation of localized TURFs. It can be assumed that most cultures permit the acquisition of exclusive use rights (privately or communally) over land resources. It is likely that most cultures would also permit the extension of such rights to the sea, as is indicated by the pervasiveness of traditional sea tenure systems. There may, however, be some areas where local cultures would impede or preclude localized TURFs. Consideration should clearly be given to cultural conditions before attempting to create a system of TURFs.

E. Wealth distribution

An effective localized territorial use right has a direct effect on the distribution of wealth. It provides a value to the owner (individual or community) of the use right and diminishes the value of fishing to non-owners who are excluded from the territory. The redistribution of wealth is, perhaps, the most important factor to be considered in the creation of new localized TURFs and in taking measures to protect traditional TURFs. Thus, decisions to create or protect localized TURFs are essentially political in nature. Since these relate more to equity than to efficiency considerations, they are discussed in the next section. It should be emphasized, however, that a localized TURF cannot be created by governmental actions unless there is a deliberate decision to redistribute wealth. It should also be pointed out that, without full government support, the enforcement and protection of a localized TURF is likely to become very difficult.

F. Governmental authority and legal institutions

A condition that follows the above is that the government must have sufficient authority to be able to make the distribution decision and enforce it. Where localized TURFs are used with regard to migratory stocks, sufficient authority to require cooperation among the owners of the TURFs may also be desirable. Finally, there must be laws and institutions that permit governments to exercise the necessary authority and that support the protection and maintenance of the use rights.

G. Summary

In summary, there are several different and important conditions that affect the creation and maintenance of localized territorial use rights in marine fisheries. With regard to the natural conditions, there appear to be a fairly wide range of possibilities -- not limited solely to the sedentary species. With regard to political conditions there may also be a wide range of possibilities, but these are crucially dependent upon the willingness and the ability of governments to make decisions on the distribution of wealth.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page