Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ending the oceans' 'tragedy of the commons'

Date:
September 15, 2010
Source:
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Summary:
Leading international marine scientists are proposing radical changes in the governance of the world's oceans to rescue them from overfishing, pollution and other human impacts. Based on a successful experiment in Chile, the researchers say a new approach to marine tenure could help to reverse the maritime "tragedy of the commons" which has led to the depletion of fish stocks worldwide.

Trawlers in Texel island, Netherlands. Leading international marine scientists are proposing radical changes in the governance of the world's oceans to rescue them from overfishing, pollution and other human impacts.
Credit: iStockphoto

Leading international marine scientists are proposing radical changes in the governance of the world's oceans to rescue them from overfishing, pollution and other human impacts.

Based on a successful experiment in Chile, the researchers say a new approach to marine tenure could help to reverse the maritime 'tragedy of the commons' which has led to the depletion of fish stocks worldwide.

"Marine ecosystems are in decline around the world. New transformational changes in governance are urgently required to cope with overfishing, pollution, global changes, and other drivers of degradation," says Professor Terry Hughes of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University, one of the authors of a new scientific paper advocating sweeping reform of ocean governance.

"In recent years there has been a growing appreciation that the health of ecosystems like the oceans and human wellbeing are closely linked," says co-author Dr. Per Olsson of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. "Unfortunately, typical governance arrangements don't effectively link these two essential elements, when trying to manage fishing pressure for example. They are often too rigid and don't cope well with surprises or changed conditions."

A combination of fisheries collapses and the move to democracy in Chile, quite by chance, provided the opportunity to try out some new arrangements for looking after fisheries, involving a partnership of fishers, scientists and managers.

"There was a general recognition that Chile's fish stocks were in trouble," says Professor Carl Folke, also from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Beijer Institute. "Things were turbulent and people were looking for answers and that made them open to new approaches. There was also good scientific understanding of the coastal ecosystems of the region on which to base a new management plan."

Fishers and scientists had been working together on the problem for some years, sharing knowledge and building trust. This led to the trialling of new co-operative models for fishery management, based on the latest that science can reveal about the state of the fish stock and the surrounding marine ecosystem.

The result is a revolutionary national system of marine tenure that allocates user rights and responsibilities to collectives of fishers.

"Although fine tuning is always needed to continue to build resilience of this new regime, this transformation has improved the sustainability of the interconnected social-ecological system," Prof Folke adds.

A vital ingredient in the change was the move by Chile to democracy after a 17-year dictatorship. This opened the way for reform of the laws governing fishing rights.

The new laws gave exclusive ocean territories to local 'artisanal' fishers, and excluded the big industrial fishing fleets, which had their own exclusive fishing zone.

Scientists and small fishers then worked together to understand and rebuild the shattered fish stocks in their zone, leading to a shared vision and voluntary agreements on how to manage them. Fishing pressure was reduced in the industrial fishing zone by cutting the number of big vessels.

Professor Hughes says the Chilean experience contains lessons which can potentially apply anywhere in the world where a fishery is in trouble and there is good scientific data on the marine environment.

"You need a shared recognition that something has to be done, you need a good understanding of the marine ecosystem and how to regenerate it, you need a strong rapport between scientists and fishers, and you need a political moment when sweeping changes can be brought in," he says.

"If you have all those things, there is a good chance you can avoid the marine 'tragedy of the commons' which has been a feature of fisheries around the world in the past half century."

The research indicates the key to managing fisheries may depend on creating agreements that are both voluntary and flexible enough to cope with changes in the ocean environment, leading to fisheries that are both ecologically and socially sustainable.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gelcich et al. Navigating transformations in governance of Chilean marine coastal resources. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1012021107

Cite This Page:

ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Ending the oceans' 'tragedy of the commons'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100914095930.htm>.
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. (2010, September 15). Ending the oceans' 'tragedy of the commons'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100914095930.htm
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Ending the oceans' 'tragedy of the commons'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100914095930.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins