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The High Seas in Numbers

February 24, 2015

Global Ocean Map

It’s a curious fact that while there’s plenty of information out there on the management of the high seas (or international waters), you rarely see the high seas in numbers. For instance, check out the pages over at the FAO or wikipedia. You get a decent amount of information on the legal institutions governing the high seas, but not much else.

Frankly, while I support every bit of advocacy for better high seas management, I sometimes wonder if this lack of specificity doesn’t lead us fisheries conservationists to over-emphasize the importance of the high seas to global ecosystem health, perhaps at a loss to other areas, like inland waters and their freshwater fisheries. There would be a lot to unpack if we were to properly debate this, so instead, I thought I’d just add my grain of sand with a post providing easy to access numbers and graphics.

So here are the basic numbers on the high seas, as provided by The Sea Around Us Project. Read more…

Ostrom’s Institutional Design Principles and Fisheries Management

February 10, 2015


This past weekend I attended a colloquium called “Markets, the Environment, and the Developing World” in Key Largo, Florida, which was funded by the Liberty Fund and hosted by PERC. The event lasted two and a half days brought together about a dozen professionals from across the world and environmental community to talk about such things as the design of management institutions, contracts, and the challenges specific to Africa, China, and Latin America.

It was during the first session on institutions that I revisited Eleanor Ostrom’s eight principles of design for common pool resource institutions. Read more…

Comprehensive Assessment of Fishery Compliance Risks (RBC part III)

February 9, 2015
The risk management process for Australian Commonwealth fisheries

The risk management process for Australian Commonwealth fisheries

Following on my last post in this series on the importance of prioritizing “compliance” over “enforcement”, I’ll continue in this post by covering the next “big idea” I had stumbled upon while researching risk-base compliance (RBC) programs for fisheries: comprehensive assessments of fishery compliance risks.

In this respect, I think Australia, and reportedly New Zealand, are quite unique when it comes to how they manage compliance issues in their fisheries. Read more…

Report of the BehavFish Workshop

February 5, 2015

The workshop report from the BehavFish Workshop is now available. The workshop explored how behavioral economics might be applied to fisheries management for improved outcomes. The document gives a nice overview of this emerging field of thought and study, outlines the key points of discussion, and offers a few ideas for future research.

If you’d like to know more about the participants, funding, or see a brief presentation on compliance, check out my original post on the workshop here.

Comments to the Presidential Task for on IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud

January 26, 2015

For those who are interested, several of my colleagues at MSU – Mark Axelrod, John Spink, and Meredith Gore – and I put together a comment document that we submitted to the Presidential Task Force on IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud. This was in relation to the Task Force’s request for comments on how best to implement its recent recommendations on IUU fishing and seafood fraud.

The document you can read above. In general, the advice related to how to build state-capacity in the developing world to reduce illegal fishing and to improve the U.S.’s trade sanction system for countries engaging in illegal fishing.

World Parks Congress: 30% no-take MPA coverage worldwide

January 19, 2015
Only 2.1% of the world’s oceans are protected in marine protected areas, and globally only 0.8% are protected strongly in no-take marine reserves

Only 2.1% of the world’s oceans are protected in marine protected areas, and globally only 0.8% are protected strongly in no-take marine reserves. From MPAtlas.

I’m catching up on my reading of the November/December issue of MPA News, a newsletter that I highly recommend. The big headline is what’s being called “The Promise of Sydney”, which among other things, calls for 30% of the ocean to be protected under no-take marine reserves.

MPA News provides some context to this ambitious call:

The goal of 30% no-take coverage amounts to a rebuke of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11, which was set in 2010. Aichi Target 11 calls for just 10% of marine areas to be conserved in MPAs or other effective area-based conservation measures by 2020. Under that target, the MPAs also don’t need to be no-take (MPA News 12:3). The WPC’s 30% no-take goal is ambitious. Current no-take coverage still amounts to less than 1% of the world ocean. (Notably the Promise of Sydney sets no deadline for meeting the 30% target.)  That being said, it reinforces a goal set at the last World Parks Congress, held in 2003 in Durban, South Africa, where participants recommended that 20-30% of the world’s oceans be placed in no-take areas. (In Sydney, the 30% no-take figure was somewhat of a midway point between Aichi Target 11, on the low end of MPA coverage goals, and calls for “Nature Needs Half” on the high end. The latter is a campaign among several conservation NGOs to protect at least half of the world ecosystem as wild nature space —

I find this a fascinating idea, but struggle to imagine the technological and budgetary shifts that would need to occur to ensure that such large areas are truly protected.

Prison Labor in Thai Fisheries

January 16, 2015

16b327bAlberto Romero-Bermo, Director of Fisheries & Sustainability at Lumar Seafood International, has put up a really nice blog on LinkedIn. It covers the Thai government’s decision to pilot the use of prison labor to solve its slave labor problem. Alberto points out that this is quite likely no better, and suggests that seafood companies should avoid buying prison labor-supported fisheries products.

Read more…


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