International Governance of Fisheries Ecosystems: Learning from the Past, Finding Solutions for the Future

Chapter 17: Inter-Jurisdictional Fisheries Governance: The Next Steps to Sustainability

William W. Taylor and Cheyney Dobson

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569995.ch17

Current fisheries governance systems have failed to respond adequately to the world’s evolving fishery supply chain as it has grown to meet the increasing demand for fish related products associated with human population growth and dietary changes (Taylor et al. 2007). Some governments have attempted to respond to the mounting pressure on their fish stock by creating policies to reduce or limit the growth of local and national fishing capacity (FAO 2006). Worldwide however, the consequences of inappropriately responding to this rapidly evolving supply chain are depicted in the status of the world’s fisheries, with 75% of fisheries fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion (FAO 2006).

This failure to respond adequately to the needs of most fisheries can be attributed to limited governance systems and the increasing influence of globalization. Governance systems were originally designed for local communities and were then adapted for evolving national governments. This course of development has resulted in an ineffectual patchwork of governmental institutions struggling to resolve fisheries problems from within their respective jurisdictions rather than working across entire multi-jurisdictional fisheries ecosystems. Governments acting alone have thus far proved unable to address the global and inter-jurisdictional dynamics of fisheries resources. This has become especially problematic, as today’s fisheries resources are no longer used solely for local communities. Globalization, a process that has heightened the interconnectedness of humans and their societies at increasingly high rates, has fostered the growth of a market economy based on global supply and demand (Rood and Schechter 2007). What once was local is now global. Global demand has proven to have a huge impact on local fishery resources. In this book, the majority of the case studies demonstrate some aspect of this: from the reduced productivity of traditional fishing grounds in China to the vastly expanded Peruvian anchoveta Engraulis ringens harvesting to coral reef degradation and unsustainable fish removal techniques (see Huang and Liu, Chapter 10; Orlic and Berngartt, Chapter 8; Kramer, Chapter 9). As suggested in nearly every chapter, governance needs to change to address the multi-jurisdictional nature of fisheries and to confront the forces of globalization.