Closing the high seas to fisheries: Possible impacts on aquaculture

Consumption of seafood has increased steadily over the past several decades and this trend is expected to continue with projected increases in global population and affluence. Wild capture fisheries catches have likely reached their peak, and therefore any significant increase in future fish supply is expected to come primarily from aquaculture. However, aquaculture continues to rely on wild stocks by using fishmeal to support culture of fed species. Recently, concerns regarding wild fish populations have led to calls for the closure of the high seas (i.e., international waters) to fishing. Such a policy would decrease marine fish catch in the short term while potentially increasing future catch. Here, we assess the potential impacts of closing the high seas to fishing on marine fish catch that goes to reduction into fishmeal. We quantify the potential effects of these changes on the price of fishmeal and profitability of the global aquaculture industry. Not surprisingly, we find a stronger effect of closing the high seas to fishing for high-value carnivorous species such as shrimp and salmonids. Overall, however, our study suggests that the impact of closing the high seas to fishing on aquaculture is likely to be insignificant.

A network perspective on spatially clustered territorial use rights for fishers (TURF) zones.

Co-managed territorial use rights for fishers (TURFs) have shown promise for small-scale fisheries management. The territorial use rights help clarify access and ownership rights, while co-management arrangements create formal relationships between fishers and government. However, there is limited research into the governance processes that influence the interactions and complementarities of TURF zones that are clustered together. In a network of 16 co-managed TURFs in the Cau Hai lagoon, Vietnam, we analyzed management decentralization and the relationship between spatial and networked (social) proximity. Our findings draw attention to several broad lessons for co-managed TURFs: (1) TURFs may operate as isolated silos if co-management agreements do not address relationships among TURF leaders; (2) spatial proximity does not automatically translate to social proximity; and (3) leaders of individuals TURFs need capacity for communication and coordination with other local fisheries leaders. These findings highlight the importance of consideration to the ways that TURF design and implementation influences the relationships and collaboration between fishers, government officials, and other actors.

Curiosity, interdisciplinarity, and giving back.

The pursuit of interdisciplinarity in the marine sciences is at last beginning to come into its own, but the kind of interdisciplinarity that bridges the social, human, health, and natural science realms remains rare. This article traces the evolution of my own history of interdisciplinarity from its early days when I worked in two disciplines, to the present when I have worked with many others to bring together the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and earth/ocean sciences in large projects that illuminate the interconnectedness of all these parts of knowledge acquisition. In the process, I have broadened my intellectual vision both in scope and scale, uncovering the many ways in which, quite pragmatically, the very local and the international are more tightly interconnected than is often realized, with all the implications for fisheries governance that that implies. This, then, is both a story and, I hope, a pathway to a rewarding way for young and middle-career fisheries scholars to pursue their research.

Indigenous peoples’ rights and marine protected areas.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are inherent to international commitments to protect the oceans and have the potential to recognize, honour, and re-invigorate Indigenous rights. Involvement of Indigenous peoples in the governance and management of MPAs, however, has received little attention. A review of the literature revealed only 15 publications on this topic (< 0.5% of papers on MPAs).

Envisioning the future of aquatic animal tracking: Technology, science, and application

Electronic tags are significantly improving our understanding of aquatic animal behavior and are emerging as key sources of information for conservation and management practices. Future aquatic integrative biology and ecology studies will increasingly rely on data from electronic tagging. Continued advances in tracking hardware and software are needed to provide the knowledge required by managers and policymakers to address the challenges posed by the world’s changing aquatic ecosystems. We foresee multiplatform tracking systems for simultaneously monitoring the position, activity, and physiology of animals and the environment through which they are moving. Improved data collection will be accompanied by greater data accessibility and analytical tools for processing data, enabled by new infrastructure and cyberinfrastructure. To operationalize advances and facilitate integration into policy, there must be parallel developments in the accessibility of education and training, as well as solutions to key governance and legal issues.

Large marine protected areas represent biodiversity now and under climate change.

Large marine protected areas (>30,000 km2) have a high profile in marine conservation, yet their contribution to conservation is contested. Assessing the overlap of large marine protected areas with 14,172 species, we found large marine protected areas cover 4.4% of the ocean and at least some portion of the range of 83.3% of the species assessed. Of all species within large marine protected areas, 26.9% had at least 10% of their range represented, and this was projected to increase to 40.1% in 2100. Cumulative impacts were significantly higher within large marine protected areas than outside, refuting the critique that they only occur in pristine areas. We recommend future large marine protected areas be sited based on systematic conservation planning practices where possible and include areas beyond national jurisdiction, and provide five key recommendations to improve the long-term representation of all species to meet critical global policy goals (e.g., Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Targets).

From shared socio-economic pathways (SSPs) to oceanic system pathways (OSPs): building policy-relevant scenarios for global oceanic ecosystems and fisheries.

There is an urgent need for developing policy-relevant future scenarios of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This paper is a milestone toward this aim focusing on open ocean fisheries. We develop five contrasting Oceanic System Pathways (OSPs), based on the existing five archetypal worlds of Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) developed for climate change research (e.g., Nakicenovic et al., 2014 and Riahi et al., 2016). First, we specify the boundaries of the oceanic social-ecological system under focus. Second, the two major driving forces of oceanic social-ecological systems are identified in each of three domains, viz., economy, management and governance. For each OSP (OSP1 “sustainability first”, OSP2 “conventional trends”, OSP3 “dislocation”, OSP4 “global elite and inequality”, OSP5 “high tech and market”), a storyline is outlined describing the evolution of the driving forces with the corresponding SSP. Finally, we compare the different pathways of oceanic social-ecological systems by projecting them in the two-dimensional spaces defined by the driving forces, in each of the economy, management and governance domains. We expect that the OSPs will serve as a common basis for future model-based scenario studies in the context of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Committing to socially responsible seafood.

Seafood is the world’s most internationally traded food commodity. Approximately three out of every seven people globally rely on seafood as a primary source of animal protein (1). Revelations about slavery and labor rights abuses in fisheries have sparked outrage and shifted the conversation (2, 3), placing social issues at the forefront of a sector that has spent decades working to improve environmental sustainability. In response, businesses are seeking to reduce unethical practices and reputational risks in their supply chains. Governments are formulating policy responses, and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations are deploying resources and expertise to address critical social issues. Yet the scientific community has not kept pace with concerns for social issues in the sector. As the United Nations Ocean Conference convenes in New York (5 to 9 June), we propose a framework for social responsibility and identify key steps the scientific community must take to inform policy and practice for this global challenge.

A social-ecological systems approach to assessing conservation and fisheries outcomes in Fijian locally managed marine areas.

This special issue of Coastal Management focuses on the human dimensions of large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs), those MPAs that are typically larger than 250,000 km2. We define ‘human dimensions’ as the cultural, social, economic, political, and institutional factors that affect and are affected by large-scale marine conservation efforts. While human dimensions of marine conservation and coastal management have long been a focus of research, they have not yet received sustained and systematic consideration in relation to LSMPAs specifically. Although there is an emerging body of scholarship focused on the human dimensions of LSMPAs, this is the first collection of papers devoted to their analysis. The purpose of this special issue is to showcase the diversity of human dimensions of LSMPAs, illustrating the range of contexts in which LSMPAs function, the variety of social science tools that can be used to analyze LSMPAs, the ways that human dimensions considerations can be integrated into LSMPA management, and the diverse human dimensions outcomes that are associated with LSMPAs.

Governing the coastal commons: communities, resilience and transformations.

Coastal communities depend on the marine environment for their livelihoods, but the common property nature of marine resources poses major challenges for the governance of such resources. Through detailed cases and consideration of broader global trends, this volume examines how coastal communities are adapting to environmental change, and the attributes of governance that foster deliberate transformations and help to build resilience of social and ecological systems.