The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals have articulated sustainable development requirements at the international level. SDG14: life below water, has in particular, provided a future pathway for sustainable development of the ocean environment. With the establishment of this global perspective has come a renewed emphasis on the need for global ocean knowledge production. The 2015 First World Ocean Assessment (FWOA), which was produced by the first cycle of the United Nations’ Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-economic Aspects, is widely viewed as a primary tool to guiding action on SDG14. This research investigates how effective the FWOA has been at supporting these efforts toward sustainable development of the ocean environment. We use a combination of approaches, including document mining, an internationally distributed survey and semi-structured interviews to better understand the impact of the FWOA as well as the interrelated functioning of the Regular Process’ first cycle. While the FWOA was successful in compiling well accepted and credible ocean information, it was unable to generate the impact on sustainable ocean management activities that had originally been expected of it. Funding restrictions, participation issues and political anxieties seemed to derail the first cycle of the Regular Process from initial recommendations and directed the process into unorthodox operations and substantial political control. With the Second World Ocean Assessment (SWOA) well underway, it is imperative that trust is built and social learning is encouraged between participants in the Regular Process.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The period from 2019 to 2020 is critical in determining whether the World Trade Organization (WTO), tasked with eliminating capacity-enhancing fisheries subsidies, can deliver to the world an agreement that will discipline subsidies that lead to overfishing. Here, following extensive data collection efforts, we present an update of the current scope, amount and analysis of the level of subsidisation of the fisheries sector worldwide. We estimate global fisheries subsidies at USD 35.4 billion in 2018, of which capacity-enhancing subsidies are USD 22.2 billion. The top five subsidising political entities (China, European Union, USA, Republic of Korea and Japan) contribute 58% (USD 20.5 billion) of the total estimated subsidy. The updated global figure has decreased since the most recent previous estimate from 2009, of USD 41.4 billion in 2018 constant dollars. The difference between these two estimates can be largely explained by improvements in methodology and the difference in the actual amount of subsidies provided. Thus, we consider direct statistical comparison of these numbers to be inappropriate. Having said that, the difference between the estimates suggest that the increase in fisheries subsidies provided in the preceding decades may have halted. Still, the bulk of harmful ‘capacity-enhancing’ subsidies, particularly those for fossil fuels have actually increased as a proportion of total subsidies. As such, for the benefit of marine ecosystems, and current and future generations of people, all hands must be on deck in helping the WTO reach a meaningful agreement to discipline subsidies that lead to overcapacity and overfishing.
Managing fisheries to meet social, economic and ecological objectives is a fundamental problem encountered in fisheries management worldwide. In Australia, fisheries management involves a complex set of national and sub-national policy arrangements, including those designed to deliver against ecologically sustainable development (ESD) objectives. The complex policy framework makes ensuring policy coherence and avoiding unintended consequences difficult, particularly where potential trade-offs are not made explicit. Coherence, or potential policy weakness, of Australian fisheries management in relation to ESD objectives was examined in a subset of Australian wild capture fisheries, at national and jurisdictional scales. Coherent policy frameworks with ESD objectives were found to be more likely at the legislative-level across jurisdictions (horizontal coherence), than other levels of implementation. Many fisheries had problems demonstrating coherence between legislation and management plans due to lack of inclusion of ESD policy themes at management and operational levels. Case studies revealed substantial variation in the likelihood for horizontal and vertical coherence between fisheries policy frameworks managing the same species. The lack of explicit ESD objectives observed in many Australian fisheries suggests a high likelihood of incoherence in fisheries management, or alternatively that managers may be informally persuing higher levels of policy coordination and coherence than can be detected. Lack of detectability of coherence is problematic for demonstrating accountability and transparency in decision-making and public policy. Furthermore, use of discretion by managers when developing management plans, in order to overcome policy weakness, may lead to drifts in individual management direction within a jurisdiction.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) in Malaysia are greatly constrained by a host of problems and challenges such as ineffective management, poor institutional capacity, limited enforcement, absence of awareness, and poor socioeconomic status (SES) which influence the conservation of marine resources. Environmental degradation is another issue, including anthropogenic activities, overexploitation of marine resources, water quality deterioration, massive waste generation, and climate changes. These are the main impediments to sustainable economic growth, social development, and conservation of natural resources. This chapter details the major hurdles to sustainable community development within MPAs in Malaysia. It would help policymakers resolve the problems associated with marine park management and take appropriate steps to preserve, conserve, and protect marine resources for sustainable community development.
This study re-examines the marine spatial planning (MSP) process for Germany's North Sea exclusive economic zone (EEZ), one of the earliest European examples of MSP. It does so in order to answer whether in this case MSP was an example of post-political planning (Swyngedouw, 2010; Tafon, 2018; Tafon et al., 2018). Building on earlier research (Jay et al., 2012; Kannen, 2014), the analysis adopts a political ecology perspective, and uses a stakeholder analysis and interviews to identify main actors in the MSP process and their interests in and perceptions of the North Sea, its management and the MSP process. The results confirm earlier research that MSP was used strategically to facilitate offshore wind energy development at the expense of other uses. MSP resolved some matters of spatial competition but not all, and solved few underlying conflicts, since these involve deep-seated tensions among diverse actor perceptions of the North Sea and its management. The research finds the German North Sea EEZ remains a politicized environment, in which MSP is a post-political approach to planning. The research highlights inter-agency tensions and politics as further signs that MSP as post-political planning has not eliminated politics in sea management.
Scientific understanding of coupled social-ecological systems has grown considerably in recent years, especially for fisheries and ocean management. However, few studies test the utility of approaches that capture multiple interactions between people and ecosystems within a real-world planning process. We developed a set of quantitative models that estimate catch and revenue from the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) fishery as a function of coastal habitat extent and quality. We applied the models iteratively, with input from stakeholders, to assess fisheries outcomes of alternative scenarios for integrated coastal zone management in Belize and sustainable development planning in The Bahamas. We found that integrated management reduces risk to nursery habitats from multiple coastal and marine activities and increases lobster catch and revenue by large margins. In Belize, siting activities such as marine transportation and tourism development to explicitly reduce risk to nursery and adult habitats enhanced returns from the lobster fishery. In The Bahamas, strategic investments in economic development that focused on updating existing infrastructure, such as roads, rather than expanding the footprint of development, increased the catch of lobster by approximately half again as much relative to a business as usual scenario. Our findings show how models that link spatial information about coastal habitats and the dynamics of a key fishery can inform expected change in catch and revenue as a result of coastal management. In addition to strengthening stakeholder understanding of social-ecological relationships and highlighting national-scale outcomes of regional development decisions, modeled results allowed us to transparently and effectively improve coastal plans to achieve the goals of the citizens and governments of Belize and The Bahamas. These cases illustrate how models that account for relationships between development, nursery habitats, and fishing catch and revenue can elevate the importance of fisheries management in national development decisions.
Overfishing is a major threat to the survival of shark species, primarily driven by international trade in high-value fins, as well as meat, liver oil, skin and cartilage. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to ensure that commercial trade does not threaten wild species, and several shark species have recently been listed on CITES as part of international efforts to ensure that trade does not threaten their survival. However, as international trade regulations alone will be insufficient to reduce overexploitation of sharks, they must be accompanied by practical fisheries management measures to reduce fishing mortality. To examine which management measures might be practical in the context of a targeted shark fishery, we collected data from 52 vessels across 595 fishing trips from January 2014 to December 2015 at Tanjung Luar fishing port in East Lombok, Indonesia. We recorded 11,920 landed individuals across 42 species, a high proportion of which were threatened and regulated species. Catch per unit effort depended primarily on the number of hooks and type of fishing gear used, and to a lesser degree on month, boat engine power, number of sets and fishing ground. The most significant factors influencing the likelihood of catching threatened and regulated species were month, fishing ground, engine power and hook number. We observed significant negative relationships between standardised catch per unit effort and several indicators of fishing effort, suggesting diminishing returns above relatively low levels of fishing effort. Our results suggest that management measures focusing on fishing effort controls, gear restrictions and modifications and spatiotemporal closures could have significant benefits for the conservation of shark species, and may help to improve the overall sustainability of the Tanjung Luar shark fishery. These management measures may also be applicable to shark fisheries in other parts of Indonesia and beyond, as sharks increasingly become the focus of global conservation efforts.
As the ocean has moved into the focus of the political discourse on the “blue economy“, ocean industry plays a key role in shaping “blue growth” as sustainable. However, little is known about the meaning of sustainability and the status of its implementation by corporations invested in the maritime economy. The present paper addresses this gap. Drawing on the discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe (2001 ), the study explores the discourse on corporate sustainability. It was found that of 396 surveyed companies only 61 provide commitments to and reporting on the issue of sustainability. A detailed analysis of these companies showed that there has been a shift from a voluntary to a mandatory commitment to the concept as a direct consequence of being exposed to massive pressures to meet the expectations of their employees, customers and shareholders to prevent any harm to the environment, to save resources, and follow international regulations. It is argued that Laclau and Mouffe's discourse theory provides an approach to help to explain the practice of corporations in re-framing these challenges as an entrepreneurial opportunity to save costs, i.e. by avoiding fines, lawsuits, and clean-up costs, to optimize efficiency in all business sectors, to stay competitive, and to gain a better public image. The paper concludes that it is likely that the current efforts of companies with regard to the anticipated increases in the exploitation of marine resources will not be sufficient to preserve ocean health in the long run. However, there are corporate opportunities for strengthening the SDGs and contributing to a “sustainable blue growth”.
A holistic basis for achieving ecosystem‐based management is needed to counter the continuing degradation of coral reefs. The high variation in recovery rates of fish, corresponding to fisheries yields, and the ecological complexity of coral reefs have challenged efforts to estimate fisheries sustainability. Yet, estimating stable yields can be determined when biomass, recovery, changes in per area yields and ecological change are evaluated together. Long‐term rates of change in yields and fishable biomass‐yield ratios have been the key missing variables for most coral reef assessments. Calibrating a fishery yield model using independently collected fishable biomass and recovery data produced large confidence intervals driven by high variability in biomass recovery rates that precluded accurate or universal yields for coral reefs. To test the model's predictions, I present changes in Kenyan reef fisheries for >20 years. Here, exceeding yields above 6 tonnes km−2 year−1 when fishable biomass was ~20 tonnes/km2 (~20% of unfished biomass) resulted in a >2.4% annual decline. Therefore, rates of decline fit the mean settings well and model predictions may therefore be used as a benchmark in reefs with mean recovery rates (i.e. r = 0.20–0.25). The mean model settings indicate a maximum sustained yield (MSY) of ~6 tonnes km−2 year−1 when fishable biomass was ~50 tonnes/km2. Variable reported recovery rates indicate that high sustainable yields will depend greatly on maintaining these rates, which can be reduced if productivity declines and management of stocks and functional diversity are ineffective. A number of ecological state‐yield trade‐off occurs as abrupt ecological changes prior to biomass levels that produce MSY.
We assess progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Target 6, which aims to achieve global fisheries sustainability by 2020. Current trends suggest that the proportion of fish stocks within safe ecological limits is likely to decline until 2020. While model projections show a considerable reduction in overexploited stocks by 2050 if climate change is not considered, there will be a substantial increase in the risk of overexploited fish stocks if climate change is taken into account. Overall, although there is progress toward rebuilding fisheries in some developed nations, this improvement is insufficient to meet the Aichi Target by 2020; there is a need for substantial changes to current fisheries policy and management if Target 6 is to be met.