There is growing awareness of the need for fishery management policies that are robust to changing environmental, social, and economic pressures. Here we use conventional bioeconomic theory to demonstrate that inherent biological constraints combined with nonlinear supply−demand relationships can generate threshold effects due to harvesting. As a result, increases in overall demand due to human population growth or improvement in real income would be expected to induce critical transitions from high-yield/low-price fisheries to low-yield/high-price fisheries, generating severe strains on social and economic systems as well as compromising resource conservation goals. As a proof of concept, we show that key predictions of the critical transition hypothesis are borne out in oceanic fisheries (cod and pollock) that have experienced substantial increase in fishing pressure over the past 60 y. A hump-shaped relationship between price and historical harvest returns, well demonstrated in these empirical examples, is particularly diagnostic of fishery degradation. Fortunately, the same heuristic can also be used to identify reliable targets for fishery restoration yielding optimal bioeconomic returns while safely conserving resource abundance.
Fisheries and Fisheries Management
Management reform has the potential to rebuild fisheries and increase long-term harvest and profitability. But timing is critical: delaying reform implementation significantly reduces the potential socio-economic and biological benefits of improved management. This study models the costs of delaying reform in terms of annual biomass, harvest, and profit for 28 Mexican fisheries, parameterized using novel, fishery-specific data. Three types of reforms are examined: 1) harvest policy, 2) elimination of illegal fishing, and 3) implementation of rights-based fisheries management. The harvest policies examined in this analysis are status quo (no reform), FMSY, and economically optimal fishing mortality. The results show that prompt management reforms lead to improved annual aggregate biomass, harvest, and profit over time. However, delaying reform results in substantial costs. Just a 5-year delay of the implementation of comprehensive reform leads to a 51 million USD loss to average annual profits. Without reform, stock status can continue to decline, and the recovery of harvests and profits are further delayed. Over a given time-horizon, delayed reforms can dramatically reduce the number of healthy stocks. The results demonstrate that delayed reform can significantly diminish potential benefits that could be secured through improved management; this highlights the importance of prompt timing considerations during policy reform.
Our paper describes the application of a realist approach to synthesizing evidence from 31 articles examining the environmental outcomes of marine protected areas governed under different types of property regimes. The development of resource tenure interventions that promote sustainable management practices has been challenged by the difficulties of determining how contextual factors affect environmental outcomes given the complexity of socio-ecological systems. Realist synthesis is a promising evidence review technique for identifying the mechanisms that influence policy intervention outcomes in complex systems. Through a combination of inductive and deductive analysis of the links between context, mechanisms, and outcomes, realist synthesis can help clarify when, how, where, and why property regime interventions are likely to result in positive environmental outcomes. Our study revealed the importance of disaggregating property regimes into sub-categories, rather than treating them as homogenous categories. More importantly, use of a realist synthesis approach allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which three mechanisms—perceptions of legitimacy, perceptions of the likelihood of benefits, and perceptions of enforcement capacity—interact under different socio-ecological contexts to trigger behavioral changes that affect environmental conditions. The approach revealed the multi-faceted and interactive nature of perceptions of legitimacy, in which legal legitimacy, social acceptability, and ecological credibility combined to create robust legitimacy. The existence of robust legitimacy in turn appeared to be an important contributor to the success of regulatory systems reliant on voluntary compliance. Our study contributes to the field of natural resources governance by demonstrating the utility of a systematic review method which has received little attention by property scholars but which has promise to clarify understanding of how complex systems work. Our study also highlights that achieving long-term sustainability requires paying greater attention to the mechanisms that support or undermine people’s willingness to voluntarily engage in conservation behaviors.
Inaccurate or incomplete diagnosis of the root causes of overfishing can lead to misguided and ineffective fisheries policies and programmes. The “Malthusian overfishing narrative” suggests that overfishing is driven by too many fishers chasing too few fish and that fishing effort grows proportionately to human population growth, requiring policy interventions that reduce fisher access, the number of fishers, or the human population. By neglecting other drivers of overfishing that may be more directly related to fishing pressure and provide more tangible policy levers for achieving fisheries sustainability, Malthusian overfishing relegates blame to regions of the world with high population growth rates, while consumers, corporations and political systems responsible for these other mediating drivers remain unexamined. While social–ecological systems literature has provided alternatives to the Malthusian paradigm, its focus on institutions and organized social units often fails to address fundamental issues of power and politics that have inhibited the design and implementation of effective fisheries policy. Here, we apply a political ecology lens to unpack Malthusian overfishing and, relying upon insights derived from the social sciences, reconstruct the narrative incorporating four exemplar mediating drivers: technology and innovation, resource demand and distribution, marginalization and equity, and governance and management. We argue that a more nuanced understanding of such factors will lead to effective and equitable fisheries policies and programmes, by identifying a suite of policy levers designed to address the root causes of overfishing in diverse contexts.
The FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics Yearbook contains all the most updated data on capture production, fleet and employment, aquaculture production, commodities, food balance sheets.
Fisheries dynamics can be thought of as the reciprocal relationship between an exploited population and the fishers and/or managers determining the exploitation patterns. Sustainable production of protein of these coupled human-natural systems requires an understanding of their dynamics. Here, we characterized the fishery dynamics for 173 fisheries from around the globe by applying general additive models to estimated fishing mortality and spawning biomass from the RAM Legacy Database. GAMs specified to mimic production models and more flexible GAMs were applied. We show observed dynamics do not always match assumptions made in management using “classical” fisheries models, and the suitability of these assumptions varies significantly according to large marine ecosystem, habitat, variability in recruitment, maximum weight of a species and minimum observed stock biomass. These results identify circumstances in which simple models may be useful for management. However, adding flexibility to classical models often did not substantially improve performance, which suggests in many cases considering only biomass and removals will not be sufficient to model fishery dynamics. Knowledge of the suitability of common assumptions in management should be used in selecting modelling frameworks, setting management targets, testing management strategies and developing tools to manage data-limited fisheries. Effectively balancing expectations of future protein production from capture fisheries and risk of undesirable outcomes (e.g., “fisheries collapse”) depends on understanding how well we can expect to predict future dynamics of a fishery using current management paradigms.
The Arctic faces high expectations of Blue Growth due to future projections of easier access and increased biological productivity. These expectations are, however, often based on global and regional climate change projections and largely ignore the complexity of social-ecological interactions taking place across different temporal and spatial scales. This paper illustrates how such cross-scale interactions at, and across, different dimensions (e.g., ecological, socioeconomic and governance) can affect the development of Arctic fisheries; and potentially create uncertainties for future Blue Growth projections. Two Arctic marine systems, The Barents Sea and the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO), are used as focus areas. The former hosts productive fisheries and is mostly covered by the EEZs of Norway and Russia, while the latter is still mainly covered by sea-ice and is a high seas area with no multilevel governance system in place. The examples show that, both systems are affected by a number of processes, beyond the environmental change, spanning a wide range of dimensions, as well as spatial and temporal scales. To address the complexity of the Arctic marine systems calls for an increase in holistic scientific understanding together with adaptive management practices. This is particularly important in the CAO, where no robust regional management structures are in place. Recognizing how cross-scale dynamics can cause uncertainties to the current fisheries projections and implementing well-functioning adaptive management structures across different Arctic sub-systems can play a key role in whether the Blue Growth potential in Arctic fisheries is realized or lost.
Reconciling food security, economic development and biodiversity conservation is a key challenge, especially in the face of the demographic transition characterizing many countries in the world. Fisheries and marine ecosystems constitute a difficult application of this bio-economic challenge. Many experts and scientists advocate an ecosystem approach to manage marine socio-ecosystems for their sustainability and resilience. However, the ways by which to operationalize ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) remain poorly specified. We propose a specific methodological framework—viability modelling—to do so. We show how viability modelling can be applied using four contrasted case-studies: two small-scale fisheries in South America and Pacific and two larger-scale fisheries in Europe and Australia. The four fisheries are analysed using the same modelling framework, structured around a set of common methods, indicators and scenarios. The calibrated models are dynamic, multispecies and multifleet and account for various sources of uncertainty. A multicriteria evaluation is used to assess the scenarios’ outcomes over a long time horizon with different constraints based on ecological, social and economic reference points. Results show to what extent the bio-economic and ecosystem risks associated with the adoption of status quo strategies are relatively high and challenge the implementation of EBFM. In contrast, strategies called ecoviability or co-viability strategies, that aim at satisfying the viability constraints, reduce significantly these ecological and economic risks and promote EBFM. The gains associated with those ecoviability strategies, however, decrease with the intensity of regulations imposed on these fisheries.
Escape incidents of farmed fish involve economic losses to fish farms, interactions with local fisheries and environmental impacts to coastal ecosystems. More attention should clearly be paid to preventive measures. It is also essential to develop and establish contingency plans in case of escapes, to mitigate potentially negative socioeconomic and environmental impacts. Three mark-and-recapture experiments simulating escape incidents of sea bass (N = 1000 ind.), sea bream (N = 1000 ind.) and meagre (N = 1000 ind.) were carried out at three coastal fish farms located along the Mediterranean Coast of Spain. First, targeted experimental fishing trials in collaboration with artisanal netters were attempted at each location as potential fast-response contingency plans for recapturing escapees. Targeted fishing was successful on meagre (N = 38 ind., CPUE: 2.2 ind 10 m−2 h−1) and sea bream (N = 8 ind., CPUE: 1.3 ind 10 m−2 h−1), while no sea bass were recaptured. Secondly, recaptures reported from local fishermen (professional and recreational) during the study period were also considered. Altogether, total recapture rates were similar among the three species (sea bass: 5.4%; sea bream: 7.1%; meagre: 8.7%), although the spatial and temporal observations of recaptures varied among species. Recreational fishermen were the only contributors, recapturing 54 tagged sea bass (angling: 85%; spear-fishing: 15%) in mainly shallow coastal waters and about three km distance from the fish-farm during the weeks after release. A total of 71 escaped sea bream were recaptured by both recreational and artisanal fishermen, contributing similarly (recapture rates: 47.9% and 40.8% of total, respectively). Most sea bream recaptures were during the first nine days after release (86% of total recaptures), mainly near the farm facilities (<3 km). The bulk of meagre recaptures were during the first two days after release (>95%), mainly by experimental and artisanal netting (38 and 47 individuals respectively) again near the facility. In parallel, an underwater visual census was carried out at coastal locations and Natura 2000 sites in each study area, to assess the presence of escapees in marine habitats of special interest. Neither escaped sea bass nor escaped meagre were observed during underwater surveys, and only three tagged sea bream were found together at artificial reefs. Given that recaptures of tagged fish differed among fish species and fishing techniques following simulated escape incidents at W-Mediterranean coastal facilities, diverse potential contingency plans are here discussed.
Monitoring and managing fisheries bycatch is increasingly recognized as a critical component of robust fisheries management frameworks. This review, addressing this subject, begins by defining bycatch and analyzing the reasons it happens, from accidental to intentional discarding. It identifies the most common species composing bycatch of the main tuna fisheries using purse seine and longline gear. Considerations of options available to estimate bycatch, their potential biases and uncertainties, and ways to address these issues are discussed. The formulas used to estimate bycatch also point to the options to reduce them, lowering bycatch per unit of effort or lowering effort itself. It shows that a mean can be reduced by reducing all its component figures, or by eliminating the high values at the extreme of the distribution (i.e., where a small proportion of events causes a large proportion of the problem), a common issue in bycatch. A generic strategy is described that can be applied to all gears and fisheries, and it is then described for the fisheries of interest, showing examples of its application. These cover many mitigation actions based on gear and operational changes. Management options aiming at reducing bycatch are also mentioned. A detailed description of the ways the strategy has been implemented for purse seiners and longliners is provided. Finally, market strategies, education and awareness of stakeholders, mainly fishers, and some potential future developments are briefly described.