Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type



Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Nancy Billica

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Sam Fitch


With increasing global population coupled with high levels of consumption, natural resource scarcity is a vital issue in the management and restructuring of commercial industries. Resource conservation is a widely studied field to determine the current and past trends of resource availability. As oceans comprise 70 percent of our planet’s surface, the study of marine ecosystems and human impacts due to fishing enterprises is becoming increasingly important, especially as fishing stocks across the world are in danger of collapse. This study focuses on the role of fishery management policies and practices in the United States and in particular, how these policies can be changed to establish industries that promote long-term sustainability. Specifically, a policy recommendation for the Gulf of Mexico fishery system is advanced, drawing from the lessons learned through examination of Alaskan and New England fisheries. This Gulf of Mexico case study is designed to produce a dialogue considering the sustainability of our fishing industries in the United States by considering biological, political, and economic factors of each region in order to create a more local and contextualized policy recommendation for the Gulf of Mexico to transition effectively and efficiently towards a more sustainable future.