Florida place-based fisheries management

Project goal

To develop and test processes and tools that enable place-based cooperative governance of Florida’s saltwater fisheries


Florida’s saltwater sport and commercial fisheries generate an impact of over 6 Billion US$ per year to the Florida Economy. The marine resources upon which this major economic activity depends are under increasing pressure from fishing itself, habitat modification, and the impacts of global climate change. As a result, the abundance of many key species has been reduced substantially below historical levels.

The emerging paradigm of ecosystem-based spatial fisheries management suggests that fisheries can best be restored and sustained through integration of fishing regulations and supply side interventions in a manner that is spatially differentiated to account for local/regional conditions. Moreover, the opportunity for place-based (i.e., locally or regionally focused) enables the possibility of collective action by stakeholders in cooperative governance, which in turn is expected to enhance resource stewardship. Many stakeholders in Florida’s saltwater fisheries already seek greater engagement in management decision making.

Operationalization of this approach however poses new challenges for fisheries governance and the science required to underpin various areas of fisheries management. First, it requires constructive and medium-to-long-term engagement of stakeholders in the management process, rather than the limited opportunities to comment on administrative proposals typical of traditional agency-led fisheries management. Secondly, it requires tools that allow governance processes to incorporate place-based scientific assessments of resource status and impacts of management actions. This is challenging because fisheries assessments are typically conducted on a much more coarse spatial scale (often whole coasts in Florida) due to limitations of data and assessment capacity.

The project aims to craft fisheries forums – structures, processes and tools to enable place-based cooperative governance of Florida saltwater fisheries and to test their efficacy through implementation in pilot areas. The research will provide innovative approaches to affect decisions that can sustain coastal resources as well as new models and tools to more sustainably manage marine fisheries.


a) To assess attitudes and knowledge, and encourage sharing of ideas about place-based collaborative fisheries management by diverse stakeholders.
b) To design a framework process and structure for place-based fisheries forums and their
integration into the existing fisheries governance framework.
c) To adapt and develop quantitative tools that can be used in fisheries forums to obtain place-based scientific assessments of resource status and impacts of management actions.
d) To evaluate the effectiveness of fisheries forums and supporting tools in enabling place-based fisheries governance.
e) To disseminate results to a broad range of stakeholders

Activities with stakeholder involvement

Charlotte Harbor Fisheries Forum 

Sarasota Bay Fisheries Forum

Project partners and support

The Fisheries Forums project is carried out in partnership with Florida Sea Grant, Mote Marine Laboratory, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The project is funded through a research grant from Florida Sea Grant.