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Problem-Oriented Policing in Fisheries (RBC part IV)

March 16, 2015

SARA (for scanning, analysis, response, and assessment) is a common tool used to implement problem-oriented policing in mainstream law enforcement.

This is part 4 of an on-going series on Risk-based Compliance (RBC) programs for fisheries, with Australia serving as the prime example.

In the last post, I explored how the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) conducts its biennial compliance risk assessments. In this post, I look at how AFMA “treats”, or responds to, the risks that come out as priorities through the assessment process, and what I find is a rare and terrific example of what’s known in the field of criminology as Problem-oriented Policing. (Or, as I put in the post that initiated this series, RBC suggests that “treatments of compliance risks should be targeted, experimental, and risk-based.”) Read more…

Considering the Role of Police in Reducing Conservation Crime

March 13, 2015

Spokane Police Department Officer Ben Green

I recently read the 2014 Special Issue of Justice Quarterly which sought to bring together the latest research to explain New York’s crime drop over the last two decades or so. Nicely, the issue gave me an opportunity to consider what the field of criminology knows, or doesn’t know, about the impact of policing on crime.

The big takeaway is that while you certainly need police, more policing is often not the most important factor in reducing street crime. I find this is quite important for us environmentalists to consider, particularly as conservation NGOs are now exploring ways we might improve compliance with fisheries and wildlife management rules.

So what might we need to consider from mainstream law enforcement? Read more…

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…

Salvaging the Global Fishing Watch Project

January 16, 2015

There’s a very good blog by Trevor Downing up at WWF-UK on the weaknesses of Google’s big data project, Global Fishing Watch Project, as a way to combat illegal fishing. Here are a few key excerpts.

Very limited AIS deployment without an enforcement regime:

The global context of the project is flawed, perhaps more so than has been noted to date. There are no multilateral governance measures in force for AIS on fishing vessels, not even on the larger size ranges of 300GT and above where AIS is mandated on cargo vessels. The application of the AIS requirements in Regulation 19 of SOLAS Chapter V to fishing vessels is entirely at the behest of the flag state. This also means that none of the global enforcement frameworks for AIS, such as Port State Control, currently exists for fishing vessels. The IMO is unlikely to visit the subject of AIS on fishing vessels until the Cape Town Agreement enters into force.

Read more…