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The MARES Program’s scope of work includes developing the framework and tools for application of market-based mechanisms to marine and coastal conservation, testing these methods in the field with pilot projects, and communicating and raising awareness on the usefulness of these tools and methods through publications, convening meetings, and forming networks. MARES works closely with other Forest Trends initiatives to bring these innovative solutions to marine conservation.

MARES has developed an analytical framework for coastal and marine PES (payment for ecosystem services) that states both the need for new market mechanisms and opportunities for engagement of the private sector. Specifically, MARES has begun to analyze global fisheries quota markets and their costs and benefits for application in the developing world; to assess the feasibility of developing markets for fish nursery area protection and protection of habitats that provide flood protection and/or shoreline stabilization; and to assess the feasibility of integrating water quality markets that begin with land use in watersheds and freshwater use and extend to the coastal zone.

MARES is working with Ecosystem Marketplace to produce a series of primers on PES markets in the marine realm and has contributed to publications on PES as well as species and mitigation banking. MARES also utilizes many of Forest Trends’ partners, including Katoomba Group and UNDP/GEF networks, to identify and characterize existing coastal and marine PES projects worldwide and understand the scope of possibility for marine ecosystem service protection using private sector investment.  With Forest Trend’s Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program, MARES is exploring the utility of marine biodiversity offsets and reviewing and adapting existing terrestrial methodologies, criteria, and weighting schemes for use in the marine environment.

MARES has begun identifying sites for demonstration projects on marine PES applications in the field in North America and in Latin America and Africa, targeting specifically fish nursery habitats, shoreline stabilization, and fisheries quota markets.

MARES is also working with the Katoomba Group to plan a marine-focused Katoomba Group meeting to bring together both public and private stakeholders, experts, practitioners, and policy-makers to highlight, discuss and build a network around the use of market-based mechanisms as an innovative marine conservation strategy.

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