Spatial approaches to fisheries management hold great promise but require continued conceptual and policy development. Polycentrism and flux emerge as useful concepts, drawing lessons from more customary, informal resourceuse patterns to produce more innovative “spatialized” policies within existing governance architectures. Empirical evidence from Maine shows that pioneering efforts have been limited by the single-species focus of conventional management hierarchies. As entry limits have consolidated the fishing fleet and eliminated flexible, diversified, and adaptive business strategies, cross-species and habitat externalities have become problematic. State lobster (Homarus americanus Milne- Edwards, 1837) comanagement zones have achieved some successes, including trap limits and improved industry-management communications, but incur significant transaction costs and raise equity and stewardship concerns. Kindred proposals for spatial refinement of groundfish management and locally based area-management councils lack support from the state Department of Marine Resources, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, New England Fishery Management Council, and National Marine Fisheries Service. Broader and more transparent deliberation of explicitly spatial and ecosystem approaches might be advanced by citizen panels convened to foster polycentric decision structures and accommodate more integrative management strategies.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Bulletin of Marine Science


Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami

Document Type



This is an article published by University of Miami - Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Bulletin of Marine Science in 2010, available online: https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/umrsmas/bullmar/2010/00000086/00000002/art00010