Conservation, contraception and controversy: Supporting human rights to enable sustainable fisheries in Madagascar

Environmental NGOs are increasingly called upon to respect human rights when undertaking conservation programs. Evaluating a family planning program running alongside marine management measures in Madagascar, we find that family planning services provided by an environmental NGO can support women’s reproductive rights.

Eight urgent, fundamental and simultaneous steps needed to restore ocean health, and the consequences for humanity and the planet of inaction or delay

The ocean crisis is urgent and central to human wellbeing and life on Earth; past and current activities are damaging the planet’s main life support system for future generations. We are witnessing an increase in ocean heat, disturbance, acidification, bio‐invasions and nutrients, and reducing oxygen levels. Several of these act like ratchets: once detrimental or negative changes have occurred, they may lock in place and may not be reversible, especially at gross ecological and ocean process scales.

Marine social science for the peopled seas.

Coastal communities, indigenous peoples, and small-scale fishers rely on the ocean for livelihoods, for subsistence, for wellbeing and for cultural continuity. Thus, understanding the human dimensions of the world’s peopled seas and coasts is fundamental to evidence-based decision-making across marine policy realms, including marine conservation, marine spatial planning, fisheries management, the blue economy and climate adaptation. This perspective article contends that the marine social sciences must inform the pursuit of sustainable oceans. To this end, the article introduces this burgeoning field and briefly reviews the insights that social science can offer to guide ocean and coastal policy and management. The upcoming United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) provides a tremendous opportunity to build on the current interest, need for and momentum in the marine social sciences. We will be missing the boat if the marine social sciences do not form an integral and substantial part of the mandate and investments of this global ocean science for sustainability initiative.

Modern slavery and the race to fish.

Marine fisheries are in crisis, requiring twice the fishing effort of the 1950s to catch the same quantity of fish, and with many fleets operating beyond economic or ecological sustainability. A possible consequence of diminishing returns in this race to fish is serious labour abuses, including modern slavery, which exploit vulnerable workers to reduce costs. Here, we use the Global Slavery Index (GSI), a national-level indicator, as a proxy for modern slavery and labour abuses in fisheries. GSI estimates and fisheries governance are correlated at the national level among the major fishing countries. Furthermore, countries having documented labour abuses at sea share key features, including higher levels of subsidised distant-water fishing and poor catch reporting. Further research into modern slavery in the fisheries sector is needed to better understand how the issue relates to overfishing and fisheries policy, as well as measures to reduce risk in these labour markets.

Integrating diverse objectives for sustainable fisheries in Canada

An interdisciplinary team of academics, and representatives of fishing fleets and government collaborated to study the emerging requirements for sustainability in Canada’s fisheries. Fisheries assessment and management has focused on biological productivity with insufficient consideration of social (including cultural), economic and institutional (governance) aspects. Further, there has been little discussion or formal evaluation of the effectiveness of fisheries management. The team of over 50 people 1) identified a comprehensive set of management objectives for a sustainable fishery system based on Canadian policy statements, 2) combined objectives into an operational framework with relevant performance indicators for use in management planning, and 3) undertook case studies which investigated some social, economic and governance aspects in greater detail. The resulting framework extends the suite of widely accepted ecological aspects (productivity and trophic structure, biodiversity, and habitat/ecosystem integrity) to include comparable economic (viability and prosperity, sustainable livelihoods, distribution of access and benefits, regional/community benefits), social (health and wellbeing, sustainable communities, ethical fisheries), and institutional (legal obligations, good governance structure, effective decision-making) aspects of sustainability. This work provides a practical framework for implementation of a comprehensive approach to sustainability in Canadian fisheries. The project also demonstrates the value of co-construction of collaborative research and co-production of knowledge that combines and builds on the strengths of academics, industry and government.

Environmental stewardship: a conceptual review and analytical framework.

There has been increasing attention to and investment in local environmental stewardship in conservation and environmental management policies and programs globally. Yet environmental stewardship has not received adequate conceptual attention. Establishing a clear definition and comprehensive analytical framework could strengthen our ability to understand the factors that lead to the success or failure of environmental stewardship in different contexts and how to most effectively support and enable local efforts.

An approach to assess learning conditions, effects and outcomes in environmental governance.

We empirically examine relationships among the conditions that enable learning, learning effects and sustainability outcomes based on experiences in four biosphere reserves in Canada and Sweden. In doing so, we provide a novel approach to measure learning and address an important methodological and empirical challenge in assessments of learning processes in decision-making contexts. Findings from this study highlight the effectiveness of different measures of learning, and how to differentiate the factors that foster learning with the outcomes of learning. Our approach provides a useful reference point for future empirical studies of learning in different environment, resource and sustainability settings.

Trade and sustainable fisheries.

The ultimate goal of this contribution is to formulate fish trade policy recommendations that can be deployed to help achieve the relevant Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDGs). Even though all the 17 SDGs are relevant to the issues addressed in this contribution, I will focus on SDG14: Life under the water, and also SDG 1: (No poverty); 2: (Zero hunger); 3: (Gender equality); 4: (Reduced inequality); and 12: (Responsible consumption and production). Before I get to the recommendations, I will review the literature on the relationship between fish trade and sustainable fisheries; and discuss the potential promise (pros) and perils (costs) of fish trade. Policy recommendations for using fish trade to support the SDGs are provided under different headings that capture the main concerns highlighted in the literature when it comes to ensuring the sustainability of fisheries in general and those related to the impact of trade on fisheries sustainability in particular. The policy measures presented in this chapter have the potential to help ensure that trade in fish and fish products would support the implementation of the SDGs.

Sustainability of Canadian fisheries requires bold political leadership.

The federal government has set promising new directions for the sustainability of Canada’s fisheries and oceans. Among various commitments, Minister Hunter Tootoo will increase the extent of marine protected areas and review legislative changes made by the previous government. These initiatives will help bring Canada in line with other major coastal nations.