The National Data and Integrated Scenarios (NDIS) Working Group, based at the University of British Columbia, is compiling secondary data to create a user-friendly searchable research database. This database will house important social, cultural, governance, economic and environmental data and we envision that it will help researchers more easily assess and monitor trends related to the health of Canada’s three coastal-ocean environments. Through our work with scenario modelling, we are mapping the potential pathways to human and environmental sustainability within Canada’s coastal-ocean regions and appraising their associated opportunities and risks.
In addition to our formal SSHRC partners, the Nereus and Sea Around Us programs at the University of British Columbia are informal associates of the NDIS Working Group.
The NDIS Working Group was involved in a number of initiatives in 2015/2016: 1) taking stock of the available datasets on Canada’s three oceans and developing a first version of the OCP database; 2) discussing with other WGs on developing an OCP platform for sharing and archiving data; 3) publishing a policy paper in Marine Policy suggesting actions that can be taken by the Canadian federal government to support the sustainability of Canadian coastal communities and the oceans that support them; 4) developing a global database of aboriginal fisheries (manuscript submitted to PloS One); 5) developing an innovative fuzzy logic algorithm to synthesize available data (both quantitative and qualitative) to assess the status and trends of Canada’s oceans; 6) identifying and extracting data for indicators to assess the status of Canada’s oceans in relation to the Aichi Targets on the conservation of biodiversity; 7) reviewing the literature on the application of scenario analysis to study potential future states of Canada’s oceans, and the situations of the communities that depend on them socially, culturally and economically (manuscript submitted to Regional Environmental Change); 8) adapting simulation models to make projections for the future of Canada’s oceans under climate change and ocean acidification; 9) in collaboration with Mitac and the Vancouver Aquarium, reviewing the literature on the potential implications of marine pollutants to the health of coastal ecosystems and communities in Canada; 10) studying the Bella Bella herring fishery to determine its economic and social contributions to different groups, in particular, women; 11) initiating the establishment of a set of indicators to evaluate the social and economic contribution of Canada’s oceans to the wellbeing of coastal communities; 12) continuing to work on the contributions of small scale vs. large scale fisheries in BC; 13) initiating a collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to contribute to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program that assesses the socio-economic impacts of ocean acidification on the Canadian Arctic.
William Cheung (Co-Lead), University of British Columbia
Rashid Sumaila (Co-Lead), University of British Columbia
Megan Bailey, Dalhousie University
Sumeet Galati, University of British Columbia
Darah Gibson, University of British Columbia
Sarah Harper, University of British Columbia
Carie Hoover, University of Manitoba
Juan Jose Alava, University of British Columbia
Nadja Steiner, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Travis Tai, University of British Columbia
Louise Teh, University of British Columbia
Lydia Teh, University of British Columbia
Dr. William Cheung: National Data and Integrated Scenarios Working Group Co-Lead
Student and Post-Doctoral Researchers
STUDENT AND POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCHERS
Dr. Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor, OceanCanada Postdoctoral Researcher
Project title: Taking Stock of Canada’s Marine Resources
The research provides information on current and past trends in Canadian marine resources. A key interim objective is to identify existing assessments from various sources, integrating all available data so that we can provide a broad overview of natural and human drivers of performance and change. This initial overview is key for the next step for OceanCanada, as it will provide a baseline for development of future scenarios.
Dr. Louise Teh, OceanCanada Postdoctoral Researcher
Project title: Investigating the Future of Canada’s Oceans Through Scenarios
The research focuses on developing scenarios that investigate the potential future state of Canada’s oceans at the national scale. Existing scenarios about future impacts on oceans and fisheries will be reviewed in order to identify socio-economic, ecological, and environmental parameters relevant to OceanCanada scenarios. These will then be used to develop storylines about the potential future trajectory for Canada’s oceans. Once the scenario framework is established, information from OceanCanada’s regional working groups will be integrated to examine scenarios that are relevant to local stakeholders. This will enable the linkage of scenarios across scales.
Darah Gibson, Master’s Candidate
Project title: Assessing small and large scale fisheries on Canada’s Pacific Coast
The project will assess Canadian Pacific Ocean fisheries and determine whether they are small-scale (SSF) or large-scale (LSF) fisheries, in an effort to recognize their importance within Canada’s objectives for sustainable fishing.
Sarah Harper, Ph.D. Candidate
Project title: Taking stock of the social and economic condition of the herring fisheries of Bella Bella, British Columbia, with focus on the contribution of women
The project will assess social and economic attributes of the herring fishery in Bella Bella, BC, with focus on gender- and age-differentiated risks and benefits of herring fishery closures and collapses. The research is expected to provide valuable information for understanding herring social-ecological systems. This work will contribute to the ongoing policy debate on how to manage the Central Coast herring fishery and provide inputs for developing future management scenarios.
Travis Tai, Ph.D. Candidate
Project title: Projecting socioeconomic impacts of climate change on Canadian fisheries
Climate change and ocean acidification impacts on our world’s oceans are more apparent than ever. Changes in the biogeochemistry of our oceans are occurring at unprecedented rates, affecting entire ecosystems. My research focuses on modelling the socioeconomic impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on Canadian fisheries. I will be generating higher resolution spatial regional models to observe changes in populations of economically important species. Quantifying environmental changes–including population declines, niche range shifts, ecosystem structure–and projecting socioeconomic impacts (e.g., quotas, revenues, GDP, job loss/gain) are essential ingredients for the management and preservation of natural resources for future generations as we encounter record-breaking climate change scenarios.
Rebecca Singleton, Ph.D. Candidate
Allison Witter, Ph.D. Candidate
Pinnipeds are a fascinating group of marine mammals that play a crucial role as apex predators and sentinels of the functioning and health of marine ecosystems. They are found in the most extreme environments from the Polar regions to the tropics. Pinnipeds are comprised of about 34 species, and of those at least 25% live permanently in tropical zones. This book reviews and updates current research on the biology, marine ecology, bio-monitoring, and conservation of tropical pinniped populations, including their behavior, anthropogenic stressors, and health. It also looks at challenges to be faced for the conservation of tropical pinnipeds, many of which are threatened species. (Publication)
The objective of this study is to assess the performance of fishery buybacks so as to determine the conditions under which positive socio-economic outcomes can occur during the process of fisheries adjustments. We do this by conducting a desk top review and supplementing the literature with targeted interviews with experts who have direct knowledge or experience with the implementation of buybacks. We focus on four case studies: Australia, the United States, British Columbia (Canada), and Norway. The outcome of each buyback was assessed in terms of the extent to which it achieved its capacity, economic, ecological, and social objectives. Our results indicate that buybacks can be successful in achieving specific programme objectives, such as reducing fishing capacity and increasing economic profits, at least in the short term. However, none of the buybacks evaluated were a resounding success due to the presence of latent permits or licences, effort creep, and continued reinvestment in the fishery. Enabling conditions for positive social outcomes included a strong economy, accountable leadership, and social assistance programmes tailored to local fishing communities. This study is useful in informing future buyback programmes’ design and implementation. (Full publication)
The contribution by women to fisheries economies globally continues to be overlooked, in part, because “fishing” is often narrowly defined as catching fish at sea, from a vessel, using specialized gears. Both men and women are involved in fisheries, but often in different roles and activities. Fisheries research, management, and policy have traditionally focused on direct, formal, and paid fishing activities—that are often dominated by men, ignoring those that are indirect, informal, and/or unpaid—where women are concentrated. This has led to a situation where men’s and women’s contributions to fisheries are not equally valued or even recognized and has resulted in women being largely excluded from fisheries decision-making processes. Here, we examine the contributions by women in the fisheries sector of five globally significant marine fishing countries—Mexico, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam. These countries each have strong links between livelihoods and marine capture fisheries, yet represent different geographic, socioeconomic, and governance contexts. Through a synthesis of existing data, case studies, and consultation with local experts, we found that the contribution by women to the fisheries of these five countries is substantial. However, this investigation also revealed major gaps in understanding of gender inequalities in the fisheries sector and the need for better gender-disaggregated data to inform fisheries policy. (Full article)
Climate change-contaminant interactions in marine food webs: towards a conceptual framework.
Climate change is reshaping the way in which contaminants move through the global environment, in large part by changing the chemistry of the oceans and affecting the physiology, health and feeding ecology of marine biota. Climate change-associated impacts on structure and function of marine food webs, with consequent changes in contaminant transport, fate and effects, is likely to have significant repercussions to those human populations that rely on fisheries resources for food, recreation or culture. Published studies on climate change-contaminant interactions with a focus on food web bioaccumulation were systematically reviewed to explore how climate change and ocean acidification may impact contaminant levels in marine food webs. We propose here a conceptual framework to illustrate the impacts of climate change on contaminant accumulation in marine food webs, as well as the downstream consequences for ecosystem goods and services. The potential impacts on social and economic security for coastal communities that depend on fisheries for food are discussed. Climate change-contaminant interactions may alter the bioaccumulation of two priority contaminant classes: the fat-soluble persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), as well as the protein-binding methylmercury (MeHg). These interactions include phenomena deemed to be either climate change-dominant (i.e. climate change leads to an increase in contaminant exposure) or contaminant-dominant (i.e. contamination leads to an increase in climate change susceptibility). We illustrate the pathways of climate change-contaminant interactions using case studies in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean. The important role of ecological and food web modelling to inform decision making in managing ecological and human health risks of chemical pollutants contamination under climate change is also highlighted. Finally, we identify the need to develop integrated policies that manage the ecological and socio-economic risk of greenhouse gases and marine pollutants. (Full publication)
Trade and sustainable fisheries.
The ultimate goal of this contribution is to formulate fish trade policy recommendations that can be deployed to help achieve the relevant Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDGs). Even though all the 17 SDGs are relevant to the issues addressed in this contribution, I will focus on SDG14: Life under the water, and also SDG 1: (No poverty); 2: (Zero hunger); 3: (Gender equality); 4: (Reduced inequality); and 12: (Responsible consumption and production). Before I get to the recommendations, I will review the literature on the relationship between fish trade and sustainable fisheries; and discuss the potential promise (pros) and perils (costs) of fish trade. Policy recommendations for using fish trade to support the SDGs are provided under different headings that capture the main concerns highlighted in the literature when it comes to ensuring the sustainability of fisheries in general and those related to the impact of trade on fisheries sustainability in particular. The policy measures presented in this chapter have the potential to help ensure that trade in fish and fish products would support the implementation of the SDGs. (Full publication)
Pipelines imperil Canada’s ecosystem.
On 28 September 2016, the Canadian government approved what could become one of Canada’s largest CO2 emitters, the Petronas Pacific Northwest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal project at the mouth of the Skeena River estuary in British Columbia. The Skeena River is Canada’s second-largest salmon producer, and First Nation communities rely on it. (Full publication)
Building confidence in projections of the responses of living marine resources to climate change.
The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights that climate change and ocean acidification are challenging the sustainable management of living marine resources (LMRs). Formal and systematic treatment of uncertainty in existing LMR projections, however, is lacking. We synthesize knowledge of how to address different sources of uncertainty by drawing from climate model intercomparison efforts. We suggest an ensemble of available models and projections, informed by observations, as a starting point to quantify uncertainties. Such an ensemble must be paired with analysis of the dominant uncertainties over different spatial scales, time horizons, and metrics. We use two examples: (i) global and regional projections of Sea Surface Temperature and (ii) projection of changes in potential catch of sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) in the 21st century, to illustrate this ensemble model approach to explore different types of uncertainties. Further effort should prioritize understanding dominant, undersampled dimensions of uncertainty, as well as the strategic collection of observations to quantify, and ultimately reduce, uncertainties. Our proposed framework will improve our understanding of future changes in LMR and the resulting risk of impacts to ecosystems and the societies under changing ocean conditions. (Full publication)
Canada at a crossroad: the imperative for realigning ocean policy with ocean science.
Canada’s ocean ecosystem health and functioning is critical to sustaining a strong maritime economy and resilient coastal communities. Yet despite the importance of Canada’s oceans and coasts, federal ocean policy and management have diverged substantially from marine science in the past decade. In this paper, key areas where this is apparent are reviewed: failure to fully implement the Oceans Act, alterations to habitat protections historically afforded under Canada’s Fisheries Act, and lack of federal leadership on marine species at risk. Additionally, the capacity of the federal government to conduct and communicate ocean science has been eroded of late, and this situation poses a significant threat to current and future oceans public policy. On the eve of a federal election, these disconcerting threats are described and a set of recommendations to address them is developed. These trends are analyzed and summarized so that Canadians understand ongoing changes to the health of Canada’s oceans and the role that their elected officials can play in addressing or ignoring them. Additionally, we urge the incoming Canadian government, regardless of political persuasion, to consider the changes we have documented and commit to aligning federal ocean policy with ocean science to ensure the health of Canada’s oceans and ocean dependent communities. (Full publication)
Large benefits to marine fisheries of meeting the 1.5°C global warming target.
Translating the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial level into impact-related targets facilitates communication of the benefits of mitigating climate change to policy-makers and stakeholders. Developing ecologically relevant impact-related targets for marine ecosystem services, such as fisheries, is an important step. Here, we use maximum catch potential and species turnover as climate-risk indicators for fisheries. We project that potential catches will decrease by more than 3 million metric tons per degree Celsius of warming. Species turnover is more than halved when warming is lowered from 3.5° to 1.5°C above the preindustrial level. Regionally, changes in maximum catch potential and species turnover vary across ecosystems, with the biggest risk reduction in the Indo-Pacific and Arctic regions when the Paris Agreement target is achieved. (Full Publication)
Observed and projected impacts of climate change on marine fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism, and human health: an update.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) states that climate change and ocean acidification are altering the oceans at a rate that is unprecedented compared with the recent past, leading to multifaceted impacts on marine ecosystems, associated goods and services, and human societies. AR5 underlined key uncertainties that remain regarding how synergistic changes in the ocean are likely to affect human systems, and how humans are likely to respond to these events. As climate change research has accelerated rapidly following AR5, an updated synthesis of available knowledge is necessary to identify emerging evidence, and to thereby better inform policy discussions. This paper reviews the literature to capture corroborating, conflicting, and novel findings published following the cut-off date for contribution to AR5. Specifically, we highlight key scientific developments on the impacts of climate-induced changes in the ocean on key socioeconomic sectors, including fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism. New evidence continues to support a climate-induced redistribution of benefits and losses at multiple scales and across coastal and marine socio-ecological systems, partly resulting from species and ecosystem range shifts and changes in primary productivity. New efforts have been made to characterize and value ecosystem services in the context of climate change, with specific relevance to ecosystem-based adaptation. Recent studies have also explored synergistic interactions between climatic drivers, and have found strong variability between impacts on species at different life stages. Although climate change may improve conditions for some types of freshwater aquaculture, potentially providing alternative opportunities to adapt to impacts on wild capture fisheries, ocean acidification poses a risk to shellfish fisheries and aquaculture. The risk of increased prevalence of disease under warmer temperatures is uncertain, and may detrimentally affect human health. Climate change may also induce changes in tourism flows, leading to substantial geospatial shifts in economic costs and benefits associated with tourism revenue and coastal infrastructure protection and repairs. While promising, ecosystem-based coastal adaptation approaches are still emerging, and require an improved understanding of key ecosystem services, and values for coastal communities in order to assess risk, aid coastal development planning, and build decision support systems. (Full publication)
Projected change in global fisheries revenues under climate change.
Previous studies highlight the winners and losers in fisheries under climate change based on shifts in biomass, species composition and potential catches. Understanding how climate change is likely to alter the fisheries revenues of maritime countries is a crucial next step towards the development of effective socio-economic policy and food sustainability strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Particularly, fish prices and cross-oceans connections through distant water fishing operations may largely modify the projected climate change impacts on fisheries revenues. However, these factors have not formally been considered in global studies. Here, using climate-living marine resources simulation models, we show that global fisheries revenues could drop by 35% more than the projected decrease in catches by the 2050 s under high CO2 emission scenarios. Regionally, the projected increases in fish catch in high latitudes may not translate into increases in revenues because of the increasing dominance of low value fish, and the decrease in catches by these countries’ vessels operating in more severely impacted distant waters. Also, we find that developing countries with high fisheries dependency are negatively impacted. Our results suggest the need to conduct full-fledged economic analyses of the potential economic effects of climate change on global marine fisheries. (Full publication)
Projected scenarios for coastal First Nations’ fisheries catch potential under climate change: management challenges and opportunities.
Studies have demonstrated ways in which climate-related shifts in the distributions and relative abundances of marine species are expected to alter the dynamics and catch potential of global fisheries. While these studies assess impacts on large-scale commercial fisheries, few efforts have been made to quantitatively project impacts on small-scale subsistence and commercial fisheries that are economically, socially and culturally important to many coastal communities. This study uses a dynamic bioclimate envelope model to project scenarios of climate-related changes in the relative abundance, distribution and richness of 98 exploited marine fishes and invertebrates of commercial and cultural importance to First Nations in coastal British Columbia, Canada. Declines in abundance are projected for most of the sampled species under both the lower (Representative Concentration Pathway [RCP] 2.6) and higher (RCP 8.5) emission scenarios (-15.0% to -20.8%, respectively), with poleward range shifts occurring at a median rate of 10.3 to 18.0 km decade-1 by 2050 relative to 2000. While a cumulative decline in catch potential is projected coastwide (-4.5 to -10.7%), estimates suggest a strong positive correlation between the change in relative catch potential and latitude, with First Nations’ territories along the northern and central coasts of British Columbia likely to experience less severe declines than those to the south. Furthermore, a strong negative correlation is projected between latitude and the number of species exhibiting declining abundance. These trends are shown to be robust to alternative species distribution models. This study concludes by discussing corresponding management challenges that are likely to be encountered under climate change, and by highlighting the value of joint-management frameworks and traditional fisheries management approaches that could aid in offsetting impacts and developing site-specific mitigation and adaptation strategies derived from local fishers’ knowledge. (Full publication)
Scenarios for investigating the future of Canada’s oceans and marine ﬁsheries under environmental and socioeconomic change.
There is a critical need to develop effective strategies for the long-term sustainability of Canada’s oceans. However, this is challenged by uncertainty over future impacts of global environmental and socioeconomic change on marine ecosystems, and how coastal communities will respond to these changes. Scenario analysis can address this uncertainty by exploring alternative futures for Canadian oceans under different pathways of climate change, economic development, social and policy changes. However, there has, to date, been no scenario analysis of Canada’s future ocean sustainability at a national scale. To facilitate this process, we review whether the literature on existing scenarios of Canada’s ﬁsheries and marine ecosystems provides an integrative, social-ecological perspective about potential future conditions. Overall, there is sufﬁcient national-level oceanographic data and application of ecosystem, biophysical, and socioeconomic models to generate projections of future ocean and socioeconomic trends in Canada. However, we ﬁnd that the majority of marine-related scenario analyses in Canada focus on climate scenarios and the associated oceanographic and ecological changes. There is a gap in the incorporation of social, economic, and governance drivers in scenarios, as well as a lack of scenarios which consider the economic and social impact of future change. Moreover, available marine scenario studies mostly do not cover all three Canadian oceans simultaneously. To address these gaps, we propose to develop national-level scenarios using a matrix framework following the concept of Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, which would allow a social-ecological examination of Canada’s oceans in terms of the state of future uncertainties. (Full publication)
Towards an integrated database on Canadian ocean resources: benefits, current states, and research gaps.
Oceanic ecosystem services support a range of human benefits and Canada has extensive research networks producing growing datasets. We present a first effort to compile, link and harmonize available information to provide new perspectives on the status of Canadian ocean ecosystems and corresponding research. The metadata database currently includes 1,094 individual assessments and datasets from government (n=716), non-government (n=320), and academic sources (n=58), comprising research on marine species, natural drivers and resources, human activities, ecosystem services, and governance, with datasets spanning from 1979-2012 on average. Overall, research shows a strong prevalence towards single-species fishery studies, with an underrepresentation of economic and social aspects, and of the Arctic region in general. Nevertheless, the number of studies that are multi-species or ecosystem-based have increased since the 1960s. We present and discuss two illustrative case studies—marine protected area establishment in Canada, and herring resource use by the Heiltsuk First Nation—highlighting the use of multi-disciplinary datasets drawn from metadata records. Identifying knowledge gaps is key to achieving the comprehensive, accessible and interdisciplinary datasets and subsequent analyses necessary for new sustainability policies that meet both ecological and socioeconomic needs. (Full publication)
Trade policy options for sustainable oceans and fisheries.
With 37% of fish harvest exported as food for human consumption or in non-edible forms, trade policies and measures constitute an essential part of the overall policy framework needed to support sustainable environmental and human development priorities connected to oceans and fisheries. The Ocean is a vital component of the earth’s system and contributor to the well-being of human society. Ensuring ocean sustainability has become a global challenge, as unsustainable practices threaten marine biodiversity, fish stocks, food security and livelihoods. The objective of the paper is to provide fresh thinking on the key challenges facing the world’s oceans and fisheries and identify policy options and reform opportunities for the global trade system to support a transition towards sustainable fisheries and healthier oceans. The policy options are structured under three work packages: closing the market for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing; disciplining fisheries subsidies; and addressing tariff and non-tariff measures. In the IUU and subsidies work packages the aim is to ensure that trade does not undermine the environment. The main objective of the third package is to ensure that international markets function effectively and that they enable developing country producers to build sustainable fisheries and move up the value chain. While there is a preference for multilateral approaches, the paper proposes options that may compromise on multilateralism in the short term in order to facilitate the building of broader solutions in the system in the longer term. The three work packages nevertheless provide an innovative and inclusive agenda for domestic reform and international cooperation geared toward securing sustainable oceans and fisheries worldwide. (Full publication)
Uncertainties in projecting climate change impacts in marine ecosystems.
Projections of the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems are a key prerequisite for the planning of adaptation strategies, yet they are inevitably associated with uncertainty. Identifying, quantifying, and communicating this uncertainty is key to both evaluating the risk associated with a projection and building confidence in its robustness. We review how uncertainties in such projections are handled in marine science. We employ an approach developed in climate modelling by breaking uncertainty down into (i) structural (model) uncertainty, (ii) initialization and internal variability uncertainty, (iii) parametric uncertainty, and (iv) scenario uncertainty. For each uncertainty type, we then examine the current state-of-the-art in assessing and quantifying its relative importance. We consider whether the marine scientific community has addressed these types of uncertainty sufficiently and highlight the opportunities and challenges associated with doing a better job. We find that even within a relatively small field such as marine science, there are substantial differences between subdisciplines in the degree of attention given to each type of uncertainty. We find that initialization uncertainty is rarely treated explicitly and reducing this type of uncertainty may deliver gains on the seasonal-to-decadal time-scale. We conclude that all parts of marine science could benefit from a greater exchange of ideas, particularly concerning such a universal problem such as the treatment of uncertainty. Finally, marine science should strive to reach the point where scenario uncertainty is the dominant uncertainty in our projections. (Full publication)
Transform high seas management to build climate resilience in marine seafood supply.
Climate change is projected to redistribute fisheries resources, resulting in tropical regions suffering decreases in seafood production. While sustainably managing marine ecosystems contributes to building climate resilience, these solutions require transformation of ocean governance. Recent studies and international initiatives suggest that conserving high seas biodiversity and fish stocks will have ecological and economic benefits; however, implications for seafood security under climate change have not been examined. Here, we apply global-scale mechanistic species distribution models to 30 major straddling fish stocks to show that transforming high seas fisheries governance could increase resilience to climate change impacts. By closing the high seas to fishing or cooperatively managing its fisheries, we project that catches in exclusive economic zones (EEZs) would likely increase by around 10% by 2050 relative to 2000 under climate change (representative concentration pathway 4.5 and 8.5), compensating for the expected losses (around −6%) from ‘business-as-usual’. Specifically, high seas closure increases the resilience of fish stocks, as indicated by a mean species abundance index, by 30% in EEZs. We suggest that improving high seas fisheries governance would increase the resilience of coastal countries to climate change. (Full publication)
This paper surveys the current state and major trends in global fisheries; the environmental and social dimensions of fisheries; and explains how the international community has tried to meet the policy challenges associated with oceans and fisheries. The ocean and the freshwater ecosystems of the world make significant contributions to people’s well-being via the many vital social and environmental services they provide (for example, food and nutrition, employment and incomes, carbon cycling and sequestration). The impact that the increase in fishing since the 1950s has had on wild fish stocks, and the significant increase in aquaculture production in the 20th century, have resulted in severe environmental impacts. This has significant effects on marine ecosystems and the health of oceans. The erosion of the resource undermines communities’ long-term interests, including food security, employment, and income. Attempts by the global community to address challenges of sustainable production by improving the governance and management of fisheries resources range from national management of fisheries resources, to regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) for international fisheries stocks. These attempts have not always successfully met the challenge of balancing current and future use of fisheries.
Full Publication http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X16000087
The aim of this paper is to provide an updated estimate of global fisheries subsidies. It builds on earlier estimates and methodologies to re-estimate and discuss the various types of subsidies provided by governments around the world. The results suggests that total subsidies were about USD 35 billion in 2009 dollars, which is close to the earlier estimate of 2003 subsidies once they are adjusted for inflation. Capacity-enhancing subsidies constituted the highest category at over USD 20 billion. For all regions, the amount of capacity-enhancing subsidies is higher than other categories, except for North America, which has higher beneficial subsidies. The analysis reveals that fuel subsidies constitute the greatest part of the total subsidy (22% of the total), followed by subsidies for management (20% of the total) and ports and harbors (10% of the total). Subsidies provided by developed countries are far greater (65% of the total) than those by developing countries (35% of the total) even though the latter lands well above 50% of total global catch. Asia is by far the greatest subsidizing region (43% of total), followed by Europe (25% of total) and North America (16% of total). Japan provides the highest amount of subsidies (19.7% of total), followed by the United States and China at 19.6% of total.
Full publication: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X16000026
Global trade in fishery products plays a significant role in shaping the harvesting and use of fish, and therefore will be an important part of a transition to sustainable fisheries. This article provides an overview of global trade flows in fish and fishery products as well as future trends affecting the sector. It then moves on to review trade policy measures applied in major producing and importing countries, including tariff, non-tariff measures, and fisheries subsidies. It ends with an overview of recent developments in international frameworks governing trade in fish and fishery products at the global, regional and national levels.
Full publication: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X15003899
We investigate how high seas closure will affect the availability of commonly consumed food fish in 46 fish reliant, and/or low income countries. Domestic consumption of straddling fish species (fish that would be affected by high seas closure) occurred in 54% of the assessed countries. The majority (70%) of countries were projected to experience net catch gains following high seas closure. However, countries with projected catch gains and that also consumed the straddling fish species domestically made up only 37% of the assessed countries. In contrast, much fewer countries (25%) were projected to incur net losses from high seas closure, and of these, straddling species were used domestically in less than half (45%) of the countries. Our findings suggest that, given the current consumption patterns of straddling species, high seas closure may only directly benefit the supply of domestically consumed food fish in a small number of fish reliant and/or low income countries. In particular, it may not have a substantial impact on improving domestic fish supply in countries with the greatest need for improved access to affordable fish, as only one third of this group used straddling fish species domestically. Also, food security in countries with projected net catch gains but where straddling fish species are not consumed domestically may still benefit indirectly via economic activities arising from the increased availability of non-domestically consumed straddling fish species following high seas closure. Consequently, this study suggests that high seas closure can potentially improve marine resource sustainability as well as contribute to human well-being in some of the poorest and most fish dependent countries worldwide. However, caution is required because high seas closure may also negatively affect fish availability in countries that are already impoverished and fish insecure.
Full publication: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0168529
The global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 include several targets related to the challenges facing the world’s fisheries. The targets make specific reference to improving small-scale fishers’ access to markets, combating IUU fishing, and reforming fisheries subsidies. Given that about 37% of fish and fish products are traded internationally, trade-related policies can play a significant role in helping the global community to meet many of the SDGs related to fisheries. This Special Issue brings together a range of new contributions on this critical interface. It focuses on trade in aquaculture products, fisheries subsidies, tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and trade measures used to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. Its objective is to explore how trade policies can be deployed to support the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and fisheries and thereby contribute to achieving the SDGs.
Full publication: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X16300471
Boom or bust: the future of fish in the South China Sea.
Asia’s oceans are home to some of the richest and most diverse fisheries in the world and the South China Sea (SCS) is no exception. Its fish resources are crucial for food security, supporting coastal livelihoods and export trade, yet they are threatened by pollution, coastal habitat modification and excessive and destructive fishing practices. In 2015 the University of British Columbia Fisheries Economic Research Unit and Changing Ocean Research Unit undertook to outline the threats to the SCS and determine what its marine ecosystems, fisheries and seafood supply may look like in the next 30 years under different climate change and management scenarios. (Full publication)
Contrasting futures for ocean and society from different anthropogenic CO2 emissions scenarios.
The ocean moderates anthropogenic climate change at the cost of profound alterations of its physics, chemistry, ecology, and services. Here, we evaluate and compare the risks of impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems—and the goods and services they provide—for growing cumulative carbon emissions under two contrasting emissions scenarios. The current emissions trajectory would rapidly and significantly alter many ecosystems and the associated services on which humans heavily depend. A reduced emissions scenario—consistent with the Copenhagen Accord’s goal of a global temperature increase of less than 2°C—is much more favorable to the ocean but still substantially alters important marine ecosystems and associated goods and services. The management options to address ocean impacts narrow as the ocean warms and acidifies. Consequently, any new climate regime that fails to minimize ocean impacts would be incomplete and inadequate. (Full publication)
Doubly lucky: Economic impact of the English Bay bunker oil spill of April 2015.
On the 8th and 9th of April, 2015, less than a month after leaving Japan on its maiden voyage, the M.V. Marathassa leaked approximately 2,700 litres of fuel oil into English Bay, the body of water adjacent to downtown Vancouver, Canada. Although investigations into the exact cause of the leak are still ongoing, mechanical issues are thought to have contributed. All beaches affected by the oil were reopened by the end of April, and fishing was permitted in areas that had been closed to recreational and commercial fishing by mid-May. Here, we present an estimation of the economic impacts of this oil spill on Metro Vancouver’s marine-related economic activities, including commercial fishing and tourism activities. Total economic losses to local businesses and organizations as a result of the spill have been estimated to amount to between $25,805 to $31,105 in lost revenue, and between $45,655 and $46,005 in lost profit. In addition, approximately $12,850 to $12,900 in additional costs were incurred, and between 185 and 285 hours of employment were lost. The Marathassa bunker fuel oil spill was a fairly minor spill resulting in relatively minor financial losses to local marine-dependent businesses and organizations. However, it is important to note that despite the small size of this spill, some businesses were affected and were not compensated for these losses. These same businesses and organizations are those that would stand to lose the most and would be hit the fastest and hardest if a larger oil spill were to occur. (Full publication)
Eco2: a simple index of economic-ecological deficits.
We present the first joint analysis of the ecological−financial deficits of nations and develop a simple index, the Eco2 index, which is useful in ranking the combined ecological and financial performance of countries. This index includes information on ecological and financial deficits, trade surplus and gross domestic product (GDP) to evaluate the potential impacts of eco- logical deficits on the overall economic performance of countries. Results show an ongoing trend towards increased ecological deficits, as natural resources are ‘traded’ for financial gain. We argue that countries cannot run large financial deficits forever without negative economic consequences and that globally, it is likewise impossible to ignore our global ecological deficit in the long run. Ecological deficits can only be temporarily and partially addressed by incurring financial costs through imports, bounded by available resource surpluses of other nations and the fact that some of these services are place-specific. Ultimately, ecological deficits jeopardize ecosystem functions, energy sources and the food security of nations, with direct implications for human well-being. (Full publication)
Economic incentives and overfishing: a bioeconomic vulnerability index.
Bioeconomic theory predicts that the trade-offs between maximization of economic benefits and conservation of vulnerable marine species can be assessed using the ratio between the discount rate of fishers and the intrinsic rate of growth of the exploited populations. In this paper, we use this theory to identify areas of the global ocean where higher vulnerability of fishes to overfishing would be expected in the absence of management. We derive an index to evaluate the level of vulnerability by comparing discount rates and fishes’ intrinsic population growth rates. Using published discount rates of countries that are reported to fish in the ocean and estimating the intrinsic population growth rate for major exploited fishes in the world, we calculate the vulnerability index for each 0.5° latitude × 0.5° longitude grid for each taxon and each fishing country. Our study shows that vulnerability is inherently high on the northeastern coast of Canada, the Pacific coast of Mexico, the Peruvian coast, in the South Pacific, on the southern and southeastern coast of Africa, and in the Antarctic region. It should be noted that this index does not account for the management regime currently in place in different areas, and thus mainly reflects the vulnerability resulting from the intrinsic life history characteristics of the fish species being targeted and the discount rates of the fishers exploiting them. Despite the uncertainties of this global-scale analysis, our study highlights the potential applications of large-scale spatial bioeconomics in identifying areas where fish stocks are more likely to be over-exploited when there is no effective fisheries management; this applies to many fisheries around the world today. (Full publication)
Economics of marine conservation.
The objective of this Theme Section (TS) is to explore how economics, in conjunction with ecology and other disciplines (i.e. consilience), can be deployed to support the conservation of marine ecosystem biodiversity, function and services through time, for the benefit of both current and future generations. The TS also demonstrates the considerable progress made in the 60 yr following the pioneering works that practicably established the research discipline of fisheries eco- nomics. Eight papers explore various social and economic aspects of marine conservation, and ad- dress a variety of broad questions such as: (1) How can ecosystem service assessments be better used to inform policy? (2) How can ecosystem-based management principles be incorporated into governance? (3) Will trade in whaling quotas result in the conservation of whales? (4) How can spa- tial bioeconomics support effective management and conservation of marine ecosystems? (5) How can the welfare of coastal human populations and marine ecosystems be enhanced? (6) How much of the world‘s fish stocks are shared? (7) What are the values of the goods and services provided by ecosystems? (8) How large are the financial and ecological deficits (surpluses) of nations? (Full publication)
Out of stock: the impact of climate change on British Columbia’s staple seafood supply and prices.
• Ocean physics and chemistry is being affected significantly by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, impacting key marine and coastal organisms, ecosystems and the services they provide us, including seafood.
• These impacts will occur across all latitudes, including in the waters of British Columbia and Canada. This will have
direct impacts on the fish species that are consumed by residents of B.C.
• The supply of B.C.’s “staple seafood” species such as Pacific salmon (e.g., sockeye and chum), Pacific halibut, groundfish species (e.g. sablefish), Pacific hake, crabs and prawns will be affected.
• This study predicts that by 2050:
We could see a 21-per-cent decline in sockeye, a 10-per-cent decline in chum, and a 15-per-cent decline in sablefish stocks.
Prices of iconic West Coast species such as sockeye, chum and sablefish are projected to increase by up to $1.33,
$0.77 and $0.64 per pound for sockeye, chum and sablefish, respectively, under climate change scenario alone.
Climate change will add pressure on already skyrocketing prices, contributing to an increase of more than 70 per cent in the price per pound in 2015 dollars of B.C.’s iconic species such as sockeye and chum salmon.
For the 10 staple seafood species of British Columbia, the net change in price attributable to climate change could cost British Columbians up to $110 million a year in 2015 dollars.
• To begin to solve the problem, federal and provincial governments and private actors (businesses, NGOs and individuals) need to work together to make rapid reductions in CO2 emissions and eventually atmospheric CO2 drawdown, and instate other measures to protect ocean health.
• Without action, there will be massive and mostly irreversible impacts of climate change on ocean ecosystems and
the fish they provide. (Full publication)
Projecting future changes in distributions of pelagic fish species of Northeast Pacific shelf seas.
Marine life is being affected by changes in ocean conditions resulting from changes in climate and chemistry triggered by combustion of fossil fuels. Shifting spatial distributions of fish species is a major observed and predicted impact of these oceanographic changes, and such shifts may modify fish community structure considerably in particular locations and regions. We projected future range shifts of pelagic marine fishes of the Northeast Pacific shelf seas by 2050 relative to the present. We combined published data, expert knowledge, and pelagic fish survey data to predict current species distribution ranges of 28 fish species of the Northeast Pacific shelf seas that occur in the epipelagic zone and are well-represented in pelagic fish surveys. These represent a wide spectrum of sub-tropical to sub-polar species, with a wide range of life history characteristics. Using projected ocean condition changes from three different Earth System Models, we simulated changes in the spatial distribution of each species. We show that Northeast Pacific shelf seas may undergo considerable changes in the structure of its pelagic marine communities by mid-21st century. Ensembles of model projections suggest that the distribution centroids of the studied species are expected to shift poleward at an average rate of 30.1 ± 2.34 (S.E.) km decade−1 under the SRES A2 scenario from 2000 to 2050. The projected species range shifts result in a high rate of range expansion of this group of species into the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Rate of range contraction of these species is highest at the Aleutian Islands, and in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. We also predict increasing dominance of warmer water species in all regions. The projected changes in species assemblages may have large ecological and socio-economic implications through mismatches of co-evolved species, unexpected trophic effects, and shifts of fishing grounds. These results provide hypotheses of climate change impacts that can be tested using data collected by monitoring programmes in the region. (Full publication)
Taking stock and projecting the future of South China Sea fisheries.
Spanning an area of around 3.8 million square kilometres, the South China Sea (SCS) is rich in biodiversity, fisheries and other natural resources. It is bordered by Hong Kong, China, Macau, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. Particularly, fisheries resources are crucial for supporting coastal livelihoods, food security, and export trade in the SCS, yet they are highly threatened by pollution, coastal habitat modification, and excessive and destructive fishing practices. To allow sustainable management of the SCS ecosystems, there is a need to comprehensively understand its current status, existing and potential threats, and to develop plausible scenarios for its future. As such, this contribution, firstly, undertakes a Taking Stock exercise that integrates existing data on the SCS as a basis for assessing its fisheries in terms of economic, social, and ecological indicators. Second, it carries out scenario analysis using the Ecopath with Ecosystem modeling framework to project potential futures for the fisheries of the SCS. This report provides fishing data on each of the SCS countries and territories, including information on catch, effort, gear types, target species, stock status, small versus large scale operations, employment, and trade. Estimated levels of marine aquaculture, as well as Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing, are also reported for the region. In addition, this report outlines the existing threats to SCS ecosystems, as well as the national management regimes that exist to mitigate them. Although political cooperation is complicated by competing territorial claims within the SCS, there is potential for collaboration on achieving regional fisheries objectives. Finally, we describe the intergovernmental fisheries management efforts that exist in the SCS, as well as highlight the interconnectedness of the region through fisheries trade, with a particular focus on Hong Kong’s role as a seafood importer. To conclude, regional knowledge gaps are outlined, and scenarios built to project the future of SCS fisheries. (Full publication)
Trends in global shared fisheries.
Shared fisheries involve fish that are caught in the marine waters of more than one country, or in the high seas. These fisheries are economically and biologically significant, but a global picture of their importance relative to total world fisheries catch and economic value is lacking. We address this gap by undertaking a global-scale analysis of temporal trends in shared fisheries species catch and landed value from 1950 to 2006. We find that (1) the number of countries participating in shared fisheries has doubled in the past 55 yr; (2) the most commonly targeted shared species have shifted from those that were mainly restricted to the North Atlantic to species that are highly migratory and are distributed throughout the world; (3) countries which account for the highest proportion of global shared fish species catch and landed value tend to be large industrial fishing powers, whereas those which are most reliant on shared fisheries at a national scale are mainly smaller developing countries. Overall, our findings indicate the increasing need to accommodate a greater number and diversity of interests, and also consider equity issues in the management and allocation of internationally shared fishery resources. (Full publication)
Winners and losers in a world where the high seas is closed to fishing.
Fishing takes place in the high seas and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of maritime countries. Closing the former to fishing has recently been proposed in the literature and is currently an issue of debate in various international fora. We determine the degree of overlap between fish caught in these two areas of the ocean, examine how global catch might change if catches of straddling species or taxon groups increase within EEZs as a result of protection of adjacent high seas; and identify countries that are likely to gain or lose in total catch quantity and value following high-seas closure. We find that <0.01% of the quantity and value of commercial fish taxa are obtained from catch taken exclusively in the high seas, and if the catch of straddling taxa increases by 18% on average following closure because of spillover, there would be no loss in global catch. The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, would decrease from 0.66 to 0.33. Thus, closing the high seas could be catch-neutral while inequality in the distribution of fisheries benefits among the world’s maritime countries could be reduced by 50%. (Full publication)
Juan José Alava
Exploring the impact of climate change on the bioaccumulation of chemical pollutants in a marine food web from the northeastern Pacific: an EwE model approach. Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries Seminar Series (UBC); Vancouver, BC.
DFO State of the Pacific Ocean Meeting; Nanaimo, BC.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Climate Symposium, Smart Climate Information and Accountable Action: Achieving Sustainable Food Security in a Changing World; Piura, Peru.
Biodiversity, resilience and sustainability. 3rd Science for Biodiversity Forum. Mainstreaming biodiversity for well-being: contributions from science; Cancún, Mexico.
Environment and Oceanic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile and the National Geographic Society. Is the Paris Agreement Good News for the Ocean?; Washington, DC.
Public forum hosted by Terry Beech, Member of Parliament for Burnaby North-Seymour and members of Pacific Caucus on the proposed Trans Mountain Expansion project and an evidence-based discussion on Canada’s energy future; Burnaby, BC.
A simple application of bioeconomics to fisheries subsidies. Fisheries and Aquaculture Bioeconomics Symposium; Mérida, Mexico.
Scientific consensus on MPA financing; and MPA financing: why invest in MPAs? 10X20 Initiative Conference on MPAs; Rome, Italy.
Sea Around Us workshop funded through the MAVA Foundation. Lecture to West African researchers; Vancouver, BC.
ICES-PICES third international symposium on the effects of climate change on the world’s oceans; Santos, Brazil.
Impacts of global change on upwelling ecosystems and fisheries. IMBIZO IV Marine and Human Systems; Trieste, Italy.
Oceans system under climate change. ICES-PICES workshop: Strategic Initiate on Climate Change Impacts on Marine Ecosystems; Seattle, WA.
Responses of marine ecosystems to climate change and ocean acidification. Our Common Future under Climate Change; Paris, France.
Management of marine ecosystems under climate change symposium; Tokyo, Japan.
Benefits of managing ocean living resources sustainably. Our Oceans Conference; Valparaiso, Chile.
Boom or bust: the future of fish in the South China Sea. Press conference; Hong Kong, China.
Connecting ocean science and policy @ the regional level. Pew Marine Fellows; San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Conservation economics: close the high seas to boost global catch, equality. Global Ocean Legacy; San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Diminishing fish stocks diminishing fortunes from the SCS. Royal Geographical Society of Hong Kong; Hong Kong, China.
E15 policy options on oceans and fisheries. Trade and Development Symposim at the WTO Ministerial Meeting; Nairobi, Kenya.
The economics of high seas fisheries: what do we know and what do we need to know? High Sea Symposium; Oxford, UK.
Examples from the ‘ocean trenches.’ Liu Institute Seminar on Large-scale Interdisciplinary Collaborative Research; Vancouver, BC.
Fisheries subsidies provisions in Environment Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Congressional Briefing; Washington DC.
Global biodiversity outlook: OceanCanada Partnership marine scenario analysis. UNESCO-IPBES Scenarios Workshop; Toyko, Japan.
Marine resources: an environmental and resource economics perspective. UNEP’s International Resource Panel; Paris, France.
The quest for ocean sustainability: a new role for the high seas? AAAS Annual Meeting; San Jose, CA.
Social license and marine biodiversity. Royal Society of Canada Symposium; Victoria, BC.
Socioeconomic benefits of LME valuation in context of climate change. PIRATA-PREFACE-CLIVAR Tropical Atlantic Variability Conference; Cape Town, South Africa.
Spaceship earth: fellow travelers steer towards living sustainably with the ocean. Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies International Research Colloquium; Vancouver, BC.
Stop diminishing fish stocks to improve fortunes from Asia’s waters. Credit Suisse Seminar; Hong Kong, China.
A story about community based ocean research. UBC CBR Telling Stories Series, Museum of Anthropology; Vancouver, BC.
Subsidies, sustainability and inequality among fishers. Board of Directors of Oceana; Valparaiso, Chile.
Subsidies weaken the sustainability of global fisheries while increasing inequality among fishers. UNCTAD and ComSec AHEM Meeting on Trade in Sustainable Fisheries; Geneva, Switzerland.
The sustainability of the global ocean. Vancouver Aquarium Public Lecture; Vancouver, BC.
Sustaining ocean fisheries: a resource economics perspective. Ocean Wise 10th Anniversary: From Fish to Foodies; Vancouver, BC.
Why Value the Socioeconomic Benefits of Large Marine Ecosystem? UFRN; Natal, Brazil.
L. Teh and Allison Witter
Taking Stock Report Summary. Ocean Asia Expert Workshop; Hong Kong, China.