Institutional analysis of marine reserves and fisheries governance policy experiments : a case study of Nassau grouper conservation in the Turks and Caicos Islands

M.A. Rudd

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Keywords: Ecosystem-based fisheries management; marine reserves; marine protected areas; social capital; institutional analysis; Turks and Caicos Islands; Nassau grouper Many tropical fisheries around the world are in crisis because of the depletion of valuable reef species and the destruction of habitat upon which they depend. The complexity of reef fisheries and lack of management resources in southern nations limit the potential effectiveness of policies that focus on single species. As a result, ecosystem-based fisheries management is increasingly viewed as the only real alternative for managing these tropical reef fisheries. There is a widely held view that the devolution of management power from central government managers to local communities is central to the ecosystem-based fisheries management process and that marine reserves are the primary tool by which to implement ecosystem-based fisheries management. Marine reserves can protect or enhance multiple ecosystem services simultaneously and arguments are often made that they are more cost-effective than other management options because they are easy to monitor and enforce. The first theoretically-oriented part of this research emphasizes the role that social capital - the norms, networks and governance infrastructure that facilitates mutually advantageous collective action - plays in ecosystem-based fisheries management. In the second part of the research, I illustrate the utility of taking an institutional analysis approach to ecosystem-based fisheries management policy by examining the case of Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) conservation and fisheries management in the Turks and Caicos Islands. While the focus of this case study is a single, small island nation, I believe that the results - that there are substantial incentives for private sector and government actors to oppose implementation of marine reserves - have broader relevance in the debate over the use of marine reserves for tropical fisheries management and conservation. Marine reserves are widely viewed as cost-effective, all-purpose tools for fisheries enhancement and conservation, yet my results suggest that there are policy alternatives - in this case, a commercial trade ban on Nassau grouper in tourist-oriented restaurants - that are much more likely to be effectively implemented and that should be substantially more cost-effective than marine reserves. Market-oriented policy tools should not be under-emphasized in ecosystem-based fisheries management. In instances where local social capital is lacking, they may actually have a higher likelihood of achieving conservation objectives and be more cost-effective than poorly supported marine reserves or `paper parks`.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Folmer, Henk, Promotor
  • van Kooten, Kees, Promotor
Award date8 Dec 2003
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789058088994
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • fishery management
  • ecosystems
  • economic analysis
  • nature conservation
  • environmental protection
  • turks and caicos islands
  • marine areas
  • conservation areas
  • marine fisheries
  • ecosystem services
  • marine protected areas


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