Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


Science & Environmental Policy


his capstone project is an investigation into the economic impacts of marine protected areas (MPAs) on commercial fishing. Marine protected areas are also known as harvest refuges, or "no-take" zones. MPAs have been implemented on a limited basis around the globe as policy to combat ecosystem degradation. In California, they are being established to counter the continuing decline of many of the state's marine fisheries. While much of the fisheries research revolves around biological and ecological benefits of MPAs, this study asks what the economic costs could be of various configurations of MPAs. The investigation is based on a grid system of fishing blocks established by the California Department of Fish and Game for California coastal waters. The Pacific States Marine Fishery Commission (PSMFC) maintains data for individual blocks. Data files for fishing blocks selected on the central coast of California were added to a GIS (Geographic Information System). These data relate catch size (in pounds), revenue (in dollars), and number of trips to each block. Additionally, data for trawl time in each block were input to the GIS as consideration for reserve parameters. This project indicates that the spatial distribution of the data investigated is not uniform. In regards to MPAs, this could mean that a mobile, dynamic approach to refuge implementation could provide the greatest ecosystem benefit and keep the cost to the commercial fleet to a minimum.


Capstone Project (B.S.) Earth Systems Science & Policy Institute

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