Asia’s marine waters are divided into 13 Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs), which together generate about 50% of the global marine fish catch of ~110 million tonnes annually. Here, I carry out a comparative analysis and valuation of these 13 LMEs with a focus on fish values even though marine ecosystem valuation is much broader than the valuation of fisheries. The following indicators were employed: Catch level, landed values, and subsidy intensity. These are key indicators of a fishery because (i) catch is an indicator of the amount of fish available in weight for food security purposes; (ii) landed value is the firsthand value from which wages, profits and economic impact originate; and (iii) fisheries subsidy is a policy instrument, which if used wrongly can lead to overcapacity and overfishing. In the second part of this contribution, I use the East and South China Sea LMEs to further illustrate the value of ocean fisheries and some of the threats they face. To carry out the comparative analysis, I extracted data from the Sea Around Us and Fisheries Economics Research Unit databases at the University of British Columbia. I also rely on the data and analysis of the OceanAsia project supported by the ADM Capital Foundation Ltd of Hong Kong. The analysis suggests that Asian LMEs are crucial in terms of food security, economic and social benefits to tens of millions of people in Asia and around the world; are under strong overfishing pressure; and that action is needed through effective management to stem the overfishing tide in order to ensure that these LMEs continue to sustain the delivery of goods and services through time.
Are coastal communities relevant in fisheries management? Starting from what Svein Jentoft has had to say about the topic, we explore the idea that viable fishing communities require viable fish stocks, and viable fish stocks require viable fishing communities. To elaborate and expand on Jentoft’s arguments, first, we discuss values as a key attribute of communities that confer the ability to manage coastal resources. Turning to power, next we explore why fishing communities need to be empowered by having the opportunity to self-manage or co-manage resources. Third, regarding community viability, we make the argument that (1) rebuilding or maintaining viable fishing communities and fish stocks cannot succeed without first dealing with vulnerabilities, and that (2) the dimensions of vulnerability involve increase/decrease in well-being, better/poorer access to capitals, and building/losing resilience. The idea that healthy fishing communities and healthy fish stocks require one another implies a viable system that contains both, a social-ecological system view. The values embedded in communities enable them to manage resources. Thus, managers and policy makers need to imagine healthy fishing communities who take care of resources, and this positive image of communities is more likely than present policies to lead to viable fishing communities as well as viable fish stocks.