Assessing Socio-Economic Impacts of Channel Islands State Marine Reserves on the Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery

Researcher holding lobster

The recent establishment of the Channel Islands State Marine Reserves (CISMR) in 2003 requires managers to monitor and report on the social and ecological impacts. Monitoring the interaction of social, economic, and ecological variables that may determine how marine reserves can benefit fisheries has been given research priority by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National MPA Center. As more MPAs are established around the world to address the perceived fishery crisis, we must understand the impacts they have on affected fisheries to avoid large scale conflicts and improve resource user and manager relationships. We are monitoring social, economic and environmental variables using spatially explicit industry-reported effort and landings data, semi-structured interviews, and a Geographical Information System (GIS) to determine how the Santa Barbara Area commercial lobster fishery has responded to and subsequently been affected by the CISMR.

This project is a continuation of a study designed by lobster trapper Chris Miller, Professor Hunter Lenihan and students (Abramson et al. 2005) of the Bren School-UCSB that quantified landings values from areas now designated as no-take fishing reserves and compared these with areas still fished. Abramson et al. created a CA Fish and Game logbook landmark database linked with landings receipts for Northern Channel Islands fishing blocks. In this study we expand our focus to include the Santa Barbara and Ventura county coastal blocks and adding data from the 03/04, 04/05, and 05/06 seasons to provide before versus after reserve comparisons. We will investigate trends in geographic, individual and group production, earnings, and effort. We will follow up with local trapper interviews to provide context for the observed trends.

Research Objectives

Researcher interviewing a lobsterfisherman

This study's concept and design were generated by fishery leaders due to their concerns regarding the establishment of the CISMR. To date, this is the only study that directly addresses a commercial fishery operating around the Channel Islands. Our project stands to strengthen the evolving research collaboration between CALobster participants by advancing the scientific discussion of reserve effects on local fisheries. The data from this study will be available for future use by CALobster in an adaptive process to better inform California lobster fishery management decisions and reserve design. Finally, we will develop monitoring methodology that can be used for other fisheries within the CISMR and for reserve impact assessment in the Central Coast and Northern Channel Islands.


Carla Guenther
Phone: (805) 893-5054
Email: cguenther@bren.ucsb.edu

Project Timeline

Interviews are scheduled for March 2007 through September 2007
Results to be expected by February 2008


  • Kristine Barsky, California Department of Fish and Game
  • Darren Hardy, UC Santa Barbara
  • David Carr, UC Santa Barbara
  • Chris Costello, UC Santa Barbara
  • Channel Islands, Ventura and Santa Barbara Lobster Fishermen
  • Carrie Pomeroy, California Sea Grant
  • John Richards, California Sea Grant


The California Environmental Quality Initiative