Adapting to Regional Enforcement: Fishing Down the Governance Index
Osterblom, H and Sumaila, UR and Bodin, O and Hentai Sundberg, J and Press, AJ, Adapting to Regional Enforcement: Fishing Down the Governance Index, PLoS One, 5, (9) pp. e12832. ISSN 1932-6203 (2010) [Refereed Article]
Background: Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a problem for marine resource managers, leading to depletion of fish stocks and negative impacts on marine ecosystems. These problems are particularly evident in regions with weak governance. Countries responsible for sustainable natural resource management in the Southern Ocean have actively worked to reduce IUU fishing in the region over a period of 15 years, leading to a sequence of three distinct peaks of IUU fishing.
Methodology/Principal Findings: We reviewed existing public records relating to IUU fishing in the Southern Ocean between 1995–2009 and related this information to the governance capacity of flag states responsible for IUU vessels. IUU operators used a number of methods to adapt to enforcement actions, resulting in reduced risks of detection, apprehension and sanctioning. They changed fishing locations, vessel names and flag states, and ports for offloading IUU catches. There was a significant decrease in the proportion of IUU vessels flagged to CCAMLR countries, and a significant decrease in the average governance index of flag states. Despite a decreasing trend of IUU fishing, further actions are hampered by the regional scope of CCAMLR and the governance capacity of responsible states.
Conclusions/Significance: This is the first study of long-term change in the modus operandi of IUU fishing operators, illustrating that IUU operators can adapt to enforcement actions and that such dynamics may lead to new problems elsewhere, where countries have a limited capacity. This outsourcing of problems may have similarities to natural resource extraction in other sectors and in other regions. IUU fishing is the result of a number of factors, and effectively addressing this major challenge to sustainable marine resource extraction will likely require a stronger focus on governance. Highly mobile resource extractors with substantial funds are able to adapt to changing regulations by exploiting countries and regions with limited capacity.