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REPORT PUBLISHED: Building Resilience in Fisheries Governance

Research undertaken by ABPmer on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on future potential governance arrangements for fisheries in the N.E. Atlantic region is now available.


Research undertaken by ABPmer on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to consider future potential governance arrangements for fisheries in the N.E. Atlantic region is now available.

Climate-related impacts on the range and distribution of commercial fish stocks are likely to intensify in coming decades and will increasingly challenge existing institutions and governance arrangements for managing fisheries.

ABPmer was commissioned to take forward research on the existing governance arrangements for fisheries in the North East Atlantic region, and identify how they can be strengthened to respond to these upcoming challenges. The existing governance framework was reviewed and case studies from around the world were used to identify the key features required to build an adaptive, flexible fisheries governance framework.

Suzannah Walmsley, Fisheries specialist at ABPmer said:

“Fish, like all migratory species, do not respect geo-political borders so fisheries management naturally needs joined-up thinking and a joint management approach.
“As stocks shift under climate change, ‘winners and losers’ are created amongst coastal states, which can put pressure on existing stock management and quota sharing systems. The recent mackerel and herring ‘wars’ are an example of what can happen, with catches exceeding scientific advice.
"Governance arrangements need to be flexible and adaptable, with all relevant parties involved and an effective dispute-resolution mechanism, to provide resilience in the face of climate-related impacts. Coastal states need to see the benefits of being part of cooperative arrangements for managing shared stocks, and be able to anticipate and avert conflict from stock-related disputes.”

With the UK’s impending exit from the EU, the UK Government has the potential to become a new and significant player in the region, which provides an opportunity for re-imagining the fisheries governance framework.

The North East Atlantic region has the incentive, scientific knowledge and capability to successfully address these issues and with the right level of cooperation, willingness and ambition, could set a benchmark for fisheries governance in Europe and around the world.

Download the Fisheries Governance report


ABPmer’s work contributed to a workshop run by EDF and hosted by ICES in August 2017 (see their workshop report).

EDF now intend to continue a dialogue between science, policy and industry representatives to address climate-related impacts on European fisheries and future governance arrangements.