The Legal Viability of Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries (TURFs) in California

Carden, Kristin N.
February 2011
Ecology Law Quarterly;2011, Vol. 38 Issue 1, p121
Academic Journal
The global fisheries crisis has made its way into the mainstream consciousness. Scientists, economists, fishermen, fisheries managers, environmental lawyers, and policy makers are joining forces in the search for sustainable fisheries management techniques that will more optimally align species' ecological characteristics with economic circumstances, legal constraints, and social and political landscapes. In this Article, I discuss the potential use of a spatial, property rights-based fisheries management technique called "territorial use rights in fisheries," or "TURFs." I consider how notions of marine property rights may affect the implementation of TURFs, with a focus on California. I analyze several possible avenues for TURF implementation in California, including fee simple ownership, submerged lands leases, the Marine Life Protection Act, and the Marine Life Management Act. I conclude that many of the policy rationales undergirding existing California law and regulation support the general idea of TURF management. However, they do not expressly provide for TURF implementation, and there exists no straightforward path to instituting TURFs in California. If California chooses to move forward with TURFs as a fisheries management tool, it may be necessary for the state to craft TURF-specific regulations. I close my discussion with a description of various ecological, economic, social, and political considerations that California policymakers and fisheries managers might take into account in crafting TURF policy.


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