« Sustainability Webinar | Main | Next Webinar Monday »



Max Thomas

Reading this paper, I was reminded of another paper discussed in my class with professor Kahn. In this other article, economist Elinor Ostrom defines 8 “institutional design principles” to effectively govern global commons. Among these principles are defined boundaries, congruence between appropriate and local conditions, collective action arrangement, resource monitoring, graduated sanctioning, conflict resolution mechanisms, right to organize, and nested enterprise.

Given this paper, it seems as if the fisheries of most developed countries follow most, if not all, of Ostrom’s institutional design principles. The question is, how can developing economies manage their fisheries using these principles? While it seems simple for developing economies to emulate developed nations’ strategies (MPAs, RBFM, etc.), structural systems may prevent them from doing so. For example, if a developing nation has rampant corruption in its government, how can it enforce graduated sanctioning when fishery management practices are violated? If a country is massively in debt or operating with a small tax base, how can it afford to monitor its resources? It seems to me that effective fishery management in developing countries may require greater intervention from foreign governments, multinational organizations, and NGOs, though issues of sovereignty might arise.

Kate Hannon

I thought the article provided an interesting perspective on the positive and negative effects of technology on efforts to prevent overfishing. This felt especially relevant given our discussions in class about how technology is an important tool in decreasing the impact of negative externalities on the environment. In the case of overfishing, technologies like real-time vessel tracking can help ensure laws aimed at preventing overfishing are being enforced, while electronic data collection is an important tool in creating stock assessments. At the same time, though, technology has been and continues to be a major factor contributing to the rise of overfishing. Technologies like satellite tracking and predictive modeling make is easier and less expensive to fish, which in turn incentivizes the overuse of this resource. In this case, technology forces a further tradeoff between increasing profit and preventing the overexploitation of fish. Besides being relevant because of what it means for the health of fisheries, this served as a good reminder that the impacts of new technology on the environment are varied and depend highly on how they are used by the humans controlling them. In this article, for example, it seemed that different uses of these technologies partially explained why fishery health in developed countries has diverged so strongly from fishery health in coastal developing countries, where overfishing is much more rampant. It would make sense for the practices involved in technology use in developing countries’ fisheries to prioritize short-term profit maximization, but if these businesses were able to invest in technologies designed to create healthy fisheries they might experience more long-term success.

William Dantini

I found this article made a really interesting point with its argument about reforming global fisheries with the RBFM method. The article points out that the fisheries in developing areas are in worse shape than the ones in developed areas because of poor regulation. Ultimately, this is poorly impacting the economies of these developing nations. Therefore, there is an economic incentive for developing countries to adapt these regulation for economic benefit. So why aren't they doing this now? Well, this is in part because these nations don't have the resources or political stability to regulate their fisheries, which would also probably be unpopular in the short term with their fishers. It may be possible then for foreign aid from developed countries to focus on aiding these countries in this mission, which will not only be beneficial for bilateral relations, but will also improve the environment for everyone. If we look past the short term issues, then this paper presents are very viable political, economic, and environmental solution for sustainable fisheries.

A Facebook User

I found this article to be very interesting as I love to fish myself. I have always wondered how the process behind regulating fish consumption on a much larger scale. Or course I am aware of the issues resulting from overfishing from fisherman's perspective, however I had not thought about it with regards to such a large scale. While there are many regulations on size and quantity of fish one can catch recreationally that I am aware of, commercial intake is something that requires more strict and precise calculations. In particular, I found RBFM to be interesting and crucial to the preservation and protection of fish. I found figure 2 to be very helpful. The graphical representation of the tradeoff between revenues and costs with axis's fish biomass and value. This visual aid allowed me to think of fish intake from a more economical standpoint rather than an ethical one. Lastly, one thing that I found baffling was table 2 representing NTMPA's. With the largest size NTMPA out of any other country, the United States had 1,521,594 square kilometers. The table then shows that this is a mere 0.42% of the ocean. When thinking about how large of an area 1,521,594 square kilometers is, it is crazy to me that such a large area only covers such a small percent of the ocean.

Blake Cote

To start off, it amazed me that seafood surpasses beef in extraction and production. It was interesting to hear the other night at the webinar just how much of the world’s population solely relies on seafood as their source of food as well as how much of the population primarily relies on seafood. It makes complete sense to me now but is something that I hadn’t thought about previously. It makes even more sense now to focus on sustainability and preservation of aquatic ecosystems and marine life as a substantial amount of the world’s population, especially poor communities, would not be able to consume or live without it providing for them. The webinar, this paper, as well as our discussion in class made me realize that while many people in developed countries enjoy seafood, it is not a necessity and as it is for many people. From the webinar I learned that 44% of the world’s population lives within 93 miles of the nearest ocean which makes seafood obtainable for many people, which simply adds to our need to be sustainable when fishing and taking care of those ecosystems. The paper points out that the majority of fisheries are currently loosely regulated with some restrictions such as seasons or size limits, but these loose regulations often result in overexploitation of the stock or over harvesting. This is an interesting conflict because as most individuals in this industry are profit maximisers there isn’t much holding them back from doing all the fishing they want. The article also points out that regulatory tools like input and output controls have proved to decrease fishing mortality and decreased the chances of ecosystem collapse. This idea of not wanting to hurt the natural systems that do nothing but produce for us and give us life is consistent with the themes in a book called Braiding Sweetgrass (Robin Wall Kimmerer) that we read in my environmental humanities course. It is important to realize that ecosystems that we depend on for life, like the ocean, must be respected in a reciprocal relationship because without them we could not live.

Giang Nguyen

Costello and Ovando made a good point when they pointed out that developing countries are the ones that have the poorest fishery management, but at the same time, are most vulnerable to climate change. I think that they missed the fact that a lot of the pollution that developing countries face are caused by developed countries. For example, I know that China has oil drills in disputed waters of Southeast Asian countries, causing oil spills and severely damaging the fish population, which negatively affects the fishing industry of these poor countries.

I'm also curious about how governments that implement RBFM or any kind of restricted fishing policies deal with equity issues. There are marginalized groups, such as indigenous people, who contribute little to overfishing and ocean pollution, and to them, fish means much more than just food. I wonder if it is fair to subject them to the same policies that we are imposing on regular fishers.

The comments to this entry are closed.