Stefan Gelcich, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Alameda 340
Award Year


Project Details

Scaling-up Marine Conservation: Increasing Biodiversity Protection in Areas With Territorial User Rights for Fisheries 

No-take marine protected areas are an indispensable tool for the conservation of biodiversity in the world's seas. Nevertheless, some communities resist establishment of reserves, fearing that they will affect their livelihood. Territorial user rights for fisheries, which give a specific group of artisanal fishermen exclusive access to one area of ocean, can be an effective way to manage small-scale fisheries, especially in developing countries. Creating coastal marine protected areas in conjunction with territorial user rights could be a successful prototype for the long-term preservation of ocean resources and sustainable management of many fisheries. However, few examples of this approach currently exist. 

Gelcich will oversee a series of pilot projects in Chile that will test this approach. Through these trials, he will examine the social and ecological conditions that facilitate the success of this method and highlight the impacts of incorporating no-take zones within territorial user areas. The primary objective is to scale-up marine conservation through the active participation of fishers. Learning platforms will be generated with two fishing cooperatives to build shared knowledge. Gelcich will also develop a financial model concerning possible future economic incentives for no-take areas. He will also assess the potential to scale-up this pilot initiative throughout Chile.


Stefan Gelcich, a marine biologist, studies the interaction between ecological and social systems in coastal areas, conservation and sustainable management of marine resources, subtidal ecology, and public policies aimed at managing natural resources. He is a researcher with Chile's Laboratorio Internacional en Cambio Global, where he investigates the factors affecting the management of marine protected areas. Gelcich is also an assistant professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and a co-investigator at the university's Centre for Marine Conservation. In addition, he serves as a regional counselor for Global Greengrants Fund, an environmental nonprofit that awards small grants to grassroots movements addressing environmental issues. He has broad experience working directly with fishing communities in coastal regions of Chile and with the country's impoverished indigenous communities. 

Gelcich earned a bachelor's degree in marine biology at the Universidad Católica del Norte, a M.Phil. in environment and development at Cambridge University, and a Ph.D. in coastal resource management at the University of Wales, Bangor, in the United Kingdom.