Progress report 2017


Climate change and other environmental factors are currently causing variability in the spatial distribution of fish stocks in the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the Southern Ocean and this project asks three main questions:

  1. How is climate change affecting distributional shifts of Polar fish stocks - are there any general patterns of movement, adaptability and recruitment?
  2. To what extent do shifts in migratory patterns influence the fit between the spatial scope of existing national and international management regimes and the fishing activities they seek to govern - and how will they influence the effectiveness of the regimes?
  3. How does continued effectiveness require adaptation within the complexes of institutions that co-govern commercial activities in Polar marine ecosystems?

In addressing the first question on distributional shifts, the project has contributed to the development and launch of BarMar (Barents Sea Marine Atlas), a mapping database client for oceanographic data, marine survey data and data from commercial fish catches, in combination with data on temperatures and salinity. Elements of this database is now available on the Institute of Marine Research webpage. The project will couple this database with knowledge about existing and potential spawning grounds, drift models, and swimming capacity to investigate fish stock life cycle changes that can be juxtaposed with the jurisdictional boundaries of national and international management institutions.

Three findings are reportable concerning the second question on the adequacy of existing governance systems for coping with the challenges that climate-induced stock shifts pose for the main management tasks – provision of scientific advice, agreement on regulations reflective of the state of knowledge, and compliance control. Harald Sakarias Brøvig Hansen has addressed provision of scientific advice by conducting field work and 18 semi-structured interviews with scientists and officials involved in the management of North East Atlantic mackerel, whose growth in biomass and spatial distribution has triggered severe international regulatory challenges. Four major issues are identified: The dominant role of the statistical model with inadequate use of biological competence; lack of a geographic component in the advice provided; inadequate independence in some cases between researchers on the one hand and either industry or government on the other; and the low degree of acceptance of the advice on the part of managers which can be interpreted as indicating low legitimacy.

On the regulatory side of management, E.J. Molenaar has examined how issues of participation and allocation of fishing opportunities are being handled within regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs). Such practices are of crucial importance for the performance, credibility and legitimacy of international fisheries. The pattern is clear: Participation is dominated by regional coastal States and some key distant water fishing States. Moreover, only minimal allocations are made available to new entrants. Accordingly, while climate-induced changes to the distribution and abundance of fish stocks necessitate adjustments to allocations of fishing opportunities, the global component of international fisheries law can provide very little guidance in this regard, substantively as well as procedurally.

On the compliance task, Olav Schram Stokke has examined fisheries management in the European Arctic and finds it better equipped than in the past to obtain acceptable levels of adherence to agreed regulations because the relevant institutional complex has grown. Responding to the near-monopoly on regulation and enforcement that flag states have on the high seas, coastal states and other players have developed supplementary measures, targeting links in the seafood value chain that are either prior to harvesting (e.g. liability insurance, bunkering) or subsequent to it (e.g. transhipment, landing, processing or distribution). Those measures have proven helpful also to management of fisheries conducted in exclusive economic zones.

Project work aiming to respond to the third question on the needs for adaptation of governance systems include that by Oran R. Young. Drawing on a series of case studies in Polar regions and beyond, he concludes that the rising complexity (i.e., cross-issue connectivity, nonlinear and noncyclical patterns of change, and surprising system effects) now facing environmental governance implies that familiar regulatory strategies must be complemented by governance instruments more capable of adaptation to changing circumstances. The broader repertory needed includes what he calls Type I governance, devising supplementary practices to augment rather than to replace regulatory measures in managing volatile oscillations, as well as Type II governance, devising new means for governance during periods of transformation and in the settings that become the new normal following major state change.

Published Nov. 3, 2017 2:11 PM - Last modified Nov. 3, 2017 2:11 PM