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Keywords:

  • Climate change;
  • development;
  • disturbance;
  • livelihoods;
  • trade;
  • war

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

We evaluate the current status of the global marine fisheries using the frameworks of conflict, food security and vulnerability. Existing trends suggest that there is likely to be greater food insecurity and fisheries conflicts due to issues such as: declining fishery resources; a North–South divide in investment; changing consumption patterns; increasing reliance on fishery resources for coastal communities; and inescapable poverty traps creating by low net resource productivity and few alternatives. Consequently, managing fisheries from a food security perspective will become increasingly necessary, and we therefore briefly review fisheries from the perspective of food security and evaluate it using a vulnerability framework. Specifically, we describe three key components of vulnerability (exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity) for selected fisheries. This is followed by proposals to build the adaptive capacity of fisheries and recommendations to avoid future conflicts. Adaptive capacity attributes include assets, social flexibility and organization attributes, and learning. We present some key ways to build these aspects of the fishery to reduce the many potential environmental and social threats that increase the vulnerability of fisheries. Recommendations include fewer subsidies, reduced capital investment, precautionary management to minimize risks of ecosystem collapse, conservation of remaining resources, diversified portfolios of production and markets, and greater equity in contracts and distribution. Further, we recommend a contextual diagnostic and environmental justice framework to assess a range of options for fishery governance.


Introduction

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Fisheries and aquaculture sectors are increasing becoming socially and economically complex and now employ 260 million people. These sectors contribute a global mean of 17 kg per person per year of micronutrient rich animal food and contribute ~US$ 100 billion annually to global trade. Fish is among the most traded of food commodities with 38% of all recorded fishery production traded across national borders in 2010. Developing countries supplied just over 50% of global fishery exports (fisheries and aquaculture combined) by value and 60% by weight – 67% to developed countries (FAO 2011). Increases in marine capture fishery yield in the second half of the 20th century were almost entirely from expansion of fishing effort offshore and into the tropics and yield increases have levelled off in the last 20 years (Swartz et al. 2010). There is a positive fish trade balance between developing and developed countries, as higher-value species are exported (e.g. Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), Scombridae and shrimp, Caridae) and lower-value species are imported (e.g. herrings and sardines, Clupeidae) (Smith et al. 2010). The continuing increase in per capita global supply of fish, despite the increasing global human population and levelling of marine capture yields, is explained by the rapid growth of aquaculture (both marine and freshwater that is mostly focused on luxury markets) over the last 30 years. Consequently, the conditions for social disparity and associated marginalization and food security issues are on the rise and will increasingly need to be addressed as part of fisheries management policies and plans.

From a food and human security perspective, key issues facing the sector are as follows: (i) governance challenges, including perverse subsidies; (ii) weak or inappropriate access and property rights; (iii) uncontrolled and illegal fishing and other maritime criminal activity that threaten the sustainability and profitability of the sector and can lead to conflicts; (iv) development and trade policies that can conflict with access to resources and food by the poor; (v) climate change threats to coastal and riparian aquaculture and ecosystems, particularly declining marine productivity in food-sensitive regions; (vi) human settlement and infrastructural developments in coastal areas reducing the area for and production of fisheries; and (vii) a growing, urbanizing and increasingly affluent population making increasing demands for seafood, especially among the emerging middle classes of developing and transitional economies. These are the areas where conflicts over access and resource declines can trigger wider unrest (‘fish wars’) (Pomeroy et al. 2006).

Conflicts are common at local scales; individuals and communities regularly engage in violent conflicts over access to marine resources. These have led to international political incidents, such as the famed Cod Wars between Iceland and the UK in the 1950s and 1970s, further described below, or the 1920s to 1930s Yellow Croaker dispute between China and Japan and the Turbot War of 1995 between Canada and Spain. These conflicts over marine resources have the potential to lead to wider instability, particularly where food insecurity is high, people are vulnerable, and governance is weak or autocratic. In this review, we evaluate the extent of nations' dependency on fisheries and aquaculture in a food security context and assess the degree to which global drivers threaten supplies. We also identify, at a more local level, populations at special risk, such as small-island populations with traditionally high dependence on aquatic resources for livelihood or diet. We start with a global overview of the exposure of fisheries to these ‘drivers of change’, highlighting situations that may lead to sociopolitical instability, before examining the sensitivity and adaptive capacity of national and local food systems – particularly low-income food deficit countries. We conclude with an overview of the implications of current and projected stressors on fisheries and aquaculture, and some suggestions on how they can be addressed to maintain the sector's contributions to human security.

Food security and vulnerability

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

The vulnerability of countries, communities or populations of consumers dependent on fish for income, revenue or nutrition will be based on: (i) the exposure or degree to which the fisheries system is stressed by direct human use of the resources and the range of environmental stressors on fishery production systems, (ii) their sensitivity to this exposure and (iii) the social adaptive capacity of the fisheries system that can reduce this potential impact. Following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2001):

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Exposure is characterized by the magnitude, frequency, duration and spatial extent of climatic and human disturbances. The degree to which stress can actually modify the response of a system is known as sensitivity. Here, in the context of fisheries, sensitivity is measured by the degree of human dependence on marine resources for food, revenue and income. Finally, vulnerability will be influenced by the capacity of people to adapt to changes associated with the exposure and sensitivity (dependency). Although more commonly applied to climate change vulnerability analysis, this analytical framework can also assess food insecurity (Hughes et al. 2012) and is therefore used here to evaluate and suggest means to reduce threats.

Current status and exposure of marine fisheries

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Globally, fishing effort has expanded massively since the 1950s. A 2.4 times increase in yield has been achieved by a fourfold expansion in the fishing area (Swartz et al. 2010). This expansion extended from the coastal waters of the North Atlantic and West Pacific to the open-ocean, southern hemisphere and tropics. Expansion was greatest from 1980 to the early 1990s, at a rate of almost a degree of latitude per year. By the mid 1990s, one-third of the world's ocean and two-thirds of the continental shelves were exploited at levels where more than 10% of marine primary production was appropriated to support fisheries (Swartz et al. 2010) and, in some cases of overfishing, these values can be exceeded for limited periods of time (Watson et al. 2013). Given that nearly 90% of primary production is used in supporting ecosystems, this is near the maximum allowable by thermodynamic and food web constraints (Odum 1988). The final frontiers in this expansion were the unproductive open oceans and the difficult to access poles. After the 1990s, the number of areas potentially open to new exploitation declined. Consequently, unlike agriculture where a doubling of agriculture production was associated with only a 10% increase in the area in cultivation in 35 years during this period (Tilman 1999), this expansion of catch from 34 to 83 million metric tons is associated with a ~400% increase in the area fished during the same 1961–95 period (Swartz et al. 2010).

The expansion of fisheries is associated with a decline in the biomass of fishes, both target and incidental catch, and with subsequent ecological and biodiversity changes (Worm et al. 2006). Declines in biomass are a necessary part of fisheries exploitation, but reducing the indirect effects on ecosystems and biodiversity is an increasing concern for modern fisheries' management and decision-making (Worm et al. 2009; Salomon et al. 2011). Reducing biomass to 25–50% of unexploited levels typically maximizes their yields while going beyond this level can result in losses of diversity and other ecological processes (McClanahan et al. 2011). Most of the developed country fisheries biomass levels had reached this level since the 1980s, while less developed regions approached this value since the mid 2000s (Worm and Branch 2012). Fishing effort continues to rise even though yields have stabilized or potentially declined slightly since the mid 1990s. Watson et al. (2012) document a 10-fold increase in the power used in offshore fishing, and the catch per unit power in 2006 was half of what it was in the 1950s.

Global assessments such as these use average values, and there is a wide variation around these values, with 25–50% of the total fished stocks reduced to levels below 10% of unexploited abundance, and thus considered as ‘collapsed’ (Worm et al. 2006). While some stocks may recover at this level, many will not, and this loss of stocks is of long-term concern for global food security. The highest frequencies of collapsed stocks are in species-poor environments, typically in high latitudes (Worm et al. 2006). A knock-on effect of the collapse of major stocks of fish in north temperate waters is an increased demand for fish from tropical waters to make up the shortfall in supply in developed countries. This is contributing to the net flow of fish from the waters of developing countries to developed countries (Smith et al. 2010).

This net loss of fish from developing countries might be seen negatively – as taking fish from the mouths of the poor and putting them on the tables of the rich. Trade may, however, contribute positively to food security by stimulating both export-orientated and domestic production and market development, particularly in aquaculture, by creating employment and by supporting economic growth (Jaunky 2011). Improving trade balances may enable the import of food staples – for example, in Senegal during the 1980s and 1990s, the value of exported fish approximately equalled the value of imported food staples (FAO 2007). These positive economic contributions may lead to net improvement in food security, poverty reduction and economic growth in fish-exporting developing countries, although such benefits have been difficult to demonstrate (Kurien 2004; Béné et al. 2010). The distributional impact of fish trade is even more difficult to measure; national statistics tell us little about the changing access to fish among the food insecure. Of long-term concern is the additional pressure that international markets place on resources in the absence of effective local and national resource governance. Improved linkages with global markets can simply accelerate resource decline and increase food insecurity (Allison 2011).

There is a growing recognition, particularly in the developed world, that there is a need to reduce fishing effort and increase conservation measures. An estimated 63% of the better-studied fished stocks require rebuilding, and this process is being implemented at various rates in Europe and North America (Worm et al. 2009). Key trade-offs associated with changing employment numbers, catch and biodiversity often limit rebuilding programmes (Froese and Proelb 2010; Hilborn et al. 2012). Furthermore, one of the indirect effects is to move the excess fishing capital and effort to less developed countries in Africa where the fisheries may be poorly understood and estimates of potential yields overestimated (Srinivasan et al. 2010; Le Manach et al. 2012). There are incentives to overestimate potential yields from both developed and developing countries, which can lead to short-term profits but long-term sustainability is undermined (Watson et al. 2013). On the other hand, underestimates could hide the degree of the countries overuse and ecological degradation.

Sub-Saharan Africa has seen the largest decline (~15%) in per capita consumption of fish between 1990 and 2002 (Béné et al. 2011) and yet is an area of increasing fishing contracts and exports of fish to Europe and Asia. In many cases, governments subsidize these fisheries, and this often works to make developed countries fisheries more competitive. For example, average fuel subsidies for fisheries in developed countries was US$ 5.02 billion but only US$ 1.35 billion per year in developing countries in the early 2000s (Sumaila et al. 2006). Declining fish consumption in Africa is not, however, simply caused by increased exports or catches by foreign fleets; slow development of aquaculture, fully or over-exploited wild fisheries and increasing populations are also key explanatory factors (Allison 2011).

Fisheries conflict and human security

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

The relationship between fisheries and political insecurity is complex – wars affect fisheries and conversely fisheries conflicts can spark wider local or regional political insecurity. Wars tend to reduce fishing pressure in areas of conflict as it becomes unsafe for fishermen to venture out to sea. This respite allows stocks to rebuild and results in bonanza catches after conflicts, as was seen in the North Atlantic after the 6 years of World War II (Jennings et al. 2001). Nevertheless, the need to feed troops can lead to increased fishing in grounds far away from conflict areas. For example, wartime fishing for sardines promoted a collapse of stocks in Monterey Bay, California in the 1940s (Palumbi and Sotka 2010).

Redeployment of labour, population displacement, counter-insurgencies and opportunistic encroachment on the resource can, however, considerably delay any fishery recovery despite recovery of fish populations. In some instances, conflict may simply displace fishing effort spatially – fishing moves to adjacent areas unaffected by conflict and results in the heavier exploitation and serial depletion of neighbouring fisheries. In a multi-country study of 123 civil conflicts between 1952 and 2004, Hendrix and Glaser (2011) found that civil conflicts reduced fish catch by 16% compared with prewar levels and recovery was slow, taking 9 years to recover to prewar levels. This effect is 13 times larger than that of a strong climate anomaly such as the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events that drive down fish catches in the Pacific (Watson and Pauly 2001) and, therefore, represent a considerable food security loss in countries with long and repeated conflicts.

Sometimes, fisheries conflicts can escalate into military confrontations, a classic example being the ‘cod wars’ of the 1950s to 1970s between Iceland and the UK. Iceland, seeking to gain control over its resources after gaining its independence from Denmark in 1944, used evolving international ocean law to successively extend its territorial waters from the internationally recognized 3–200 nautical miles by 1975. The early extensions sparked conflict with British distant water fleets that had been fishing for cod (Gadus morhua), Gadidae in Icelandic waters since the 15th century. As well as threatening tens of thousands of livelihoods in the UK's fishing ports and the supply of the British working-class staple of cod and chips, this was a challenge to wider British interests in the ‘freedom of the seas’ (Johannesson 2004).

In the succeeding decades, most nations extended and maximized their territorial limits to 200 nautical miles, or to the edge of their continental shelves establishing the present ocean governance regime of ‘exclusive economic zones’ (EEZ), leaving the usually much less productive open oceans as international territory or ‘the high seas’. Fishing rights in these areas were thus nationalized, and nation states have powers to limit or exclude other nations, bearing in mind historical rights of access. Such rights have been painstakingly negotiated in international courts, and a plethora of regional fishery management organizations govern access to particular resources. Developing countries get fishing licence revenues and other benefits from allowing other nations' fleets to fish their waters, although these fees are low compared with the value of the resources (Le Manach et al. 2012).

Conflicts over access to resources persist where weak, autocratic, or failing states are unable to govern their EEZs and where states are unwilling or unable to defend the interests of their own fishing fleets. Piracy off the Horn of Africa is a contemporary example, and a cross-country analysis found that increased piracy between 1995 and 2007 was related to state weakness and reduced opportunities in the domestic fishing sector (Daxecker and Prins 2012). Piracy costs the shipping industry US$ 25 billion per year. This is small compared with the US$ 11.8 trillion value of global maritime trade in 2008 but still significant (Mildener and Gross 2011).

As the principle of territorial limits has become accepted and codified in international law, fishery conflicts of the type witnessed in the 1970s to 1990s are increasingly rare but where maritime boundaries remain disputed, fishery access rights can be a flashpoint. Typically, though, such conflicts are associated with claims on mineral rights, particularly sub-sea oil and gas, and sometimes with militarily strategic location. In this new governance regime, small islands have assumed considerable importance. An example is the uninhabited Spratley Islands in the South China Sea where sovereign claims over rich fishing grounds, and potential oil and gas fields are disputed by six maritime states, including China (Snyder 1996).

Fisheries governance analysts have classified fishery conflicts into five types (Table 1). There are no quantitative data available on the frequency of each type, but all are common and may be ubiquitous in small-scale fisheries in developing countries. Struggles for resource control and for the mechanisms of control (Type I and II) are found in the everyday acts of resistance by many fisherfolk to central state-imposed management of resources and have incentivized the transition towards more participatory forms of resource governance. Devolving governance to local level does not always reduce conflicts, particularly where local interest clash with broader national policy. Nevertheless, state–community partnerships are thought to reduce incidence of minor resource conflicts (Muawanah et al. 2012).

Table 1. Typology of fishery conflict types (modified from Charles 1992; Bennett et al. 2001)
 Description of conflictsExamples
Type IWho controls the fisheryInterstate conflicts over territorial waters, village boundary disputes, intra-community struggles for power and authority
Type IIHow the fishery is controlledHow the management systems are implemented, how quotas or territories are allocated, use of seasonal or area closures and technical measures (e.g. gear bans)
Type IIIRelations between fishery usersUser-group-related issues such as artisanal vs. industrial fishers, static vs. passive gear users, ethnic or religious identity, migrants vs. residents, gender relations
Type IVRelations between fishers and other coastal/riparian zone usersConflicts arising from multiple use of resources: aquaculture, coastal or floodplain farming, water abstraction, hydropower, tourism, leisure, conservation, residential or industrial development, waste disposal
Type VRelations between fishers and non-fishery issuesConflict issues external to fishery or cross cutting but affecting the fishery: rule of law, corruption, elite capture, demographic change (e.g. resettlement), economic policy change, political discrimination

Intra-sectorial conflicts (Type III) are also very frequent – fisheries are diverse industries and conflicts between different user-groups are inevitable. From a food security perspective, those arising from overlapping use of fish stocks by small-scale coastal and larger-scale industrial fishing are particularly significant and can involve physical violence at sea (DuBois and Zografos 2012). Most aquaculture-related conflicts are between different users of the same resource system (Type IV). The conflicts between common property mangrove forest users and commercial shrimp farmers are a common example. This conversion and privatization of common property has impacted coastal livelihoods and led to civil society campaigns and boycotts of farmed shrimp (Veuthy and Gerber 2011). Fishing, farming, tourism and leisure, industrial and urban development, power generation, nature conservation and waste disposal all compete for space in coastal and riparian areas and can be a source of conflict between interest groups.

Fishing communities, particularly artisanal or small-scale ones, are often portrayed as rebellious and ungovernable by government officials. Conflicts related to wider governance, economic and social change contexts (Type V) occur when fishers feel marginalized by state authority and land-based elites (Allison et al. 2012). While the fishery sector is thus often rife with conflict, there is little direct evidence that food insecurity resulting from loss of fisheries access or that decreases in productivity drives wider conflict. There are certainly conflicts over resource access and loss of livelihood, but the contribution of fish to food security is through the ‘hidden hunger’ of micronutrient deficiency. Food riots, such as in 2007, are usually sparked by rising prices of staples (Bush 2010) and not the micro-nutrient deficiencies that may result from fish shortages.

Climate change projections and influences

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Climate change will alter fisheries production through changes in winds, water temperature, dissolved oxygen and increasing ocean acidity. Based on projections of temperature changes, species distributions and temperature-related growth rates, fisheries production has and should continue to increase in some high-latitude regions because of warming and decreased ice cover (MacNeil et al. 2010). Low-latitude regions are, however, governed by different processes, and production is predicted to decline as a result of reduced mixing of the water column and nutrients and increased temperature and acid-induced damage to key habitats, especially coral reefs (Brander 2007; Pratchett et al. 2008). Behrenfeld et al. (2006) used an ENSO-related warming period to evaluate the changes in the ocean productivity and found declines in 74% of the oceanic net production, mostly associated with stratified conditions in the low latitudes. Given the considerable amount of the net primary production consumed by harvested species (Swartz et al. 2010), this lost production of the plankton will also reduce fish catch rates.

Climate change projections for >1000 species have been made based on existing theories linking thermal tolerance limits, feeding energetics, body size metabolisms, geographical ranges and primary production (Cheung et al. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012). These models suggest a 60% turnover in present biodiversity by 2055 with numerous local extinctions of fishes in the subpolar regions, the tropics and semi-enclosed seas. The most intense species invasions are projected for the Arctic and the Southern Oceans. These models predict a large-scale redistribution of global catch potential, with a 30–70% increase in high-latitude regions and a 40% drop in the tropics. The greatest catch potential declines are projected for the southern coasts of semi-enclosed seas. Norway, Greenland, Alaska and Russia are projected to benefit the most, while Indonesia, Chile, China and the continental United States are projected to lose the most catch potential. A similar study focused just on the western African region based on 128 exploited species projected a 21% drop in the landed value, a 50% decline in fisheries jobs and a total annual loss of US$ 311 million by 2050 (Lam et al. 2012).

The sophistication of the climate projection models has further increased to include other factors, such as pH, dissolved oxygen and phytoplankton community structure, and applied to the north-eastern Atlantic (Cheung et al. 2011). The north-east Atlantic study of 120 exploited species found that including changes in acidity and oxygen content in seawater reduced growth performance, increased the rate of range shift and reduced catch potential 20–30% by 2050 relative to simulations with only temperature changes. There were still increases in catch potential in most of the northern regions but, in the southern Atlantic, regional declines in catch were predicted if the species were sensitive to changes in oxygen and pH, factors that are not well understood for these species at present.

Habitat quality is also a considerable concern for some fisheries, particularly tropical coral reefs and other ecosystems where habitat is created by living organisms that are sensitive to climate and other anthropogenic disturbances (Pratchett et al. 2008). There have been large-scale and continuous declines in coral cover in both the Caribbean and Pacific (Gardner et al. 2003; Bruno and Selig 2007) and changes in the taxonomic composition in the Indian Ocean (McClanahan et al. 2011). These changes are projected to result in declines in coral reef fishes but improved management can override some of the negative effects (McClanahan 2010). High and sustained temperatures are one of the more important stresses to corals and the fish and fisheries associated with them, but high light level, still and stratified waters, sediments and pollution can also contribute or exacerbate the stress, while temperature variability and water movement by tides can reduce the impacts. Global maps of these stresses suggest regions such as the western Pacific Coral Reef Triangle, the northern Indian Ocean and Eastern Pacific are at the greatest risk of reduced productivity of coral reef fisheries (Maina et al. 2011).

Global fisheries problem hotspots

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Recent global surveys that included fisheries, economics, management and conservation biology–related issues have attempted to identify areas for future fisheries problems or hotspots of problematic change (Sumaila et al. 2006; Alder et al. 2010; Worm and Branch 2012). The surveys have used different methodologies and, therefore, identified somewhat different regions, but there are also some similarities. Alder et al. (2010) evaluated 53 countries based on 14 indicators of biodiversity, social value and jobs and scaled them by the management priorities of markets, policy, security or sustainability. The best performing countries differed based on the above priorities, but Argentina, Bangladesh, Faeroes, Iran and Ukraine were found in the bottom for more than one management priority. Worm and Branch (2012) observe that some developed country fisheries are improving and that this improvement is diverting unsustainable fishing practices to poorer nations with less management capacity. They considered the factors of management effectiveness, numbers of species, and increasing and potentially unsustainable catch trends and identified The Pacific Coral Reef Triangle (Indonesia), the south-eastern coast of Africa, Red Sea, north-western Africa and Gulf of California (Mexico) as future problem regions. The south-eastern coast of Africa is identified by both of these studies and provides a basis for a detailed case study (McClanahan and Cinner 2012), which is briefly summarized below.

As a means to reduce exposure of fishery systems to stresses and pressures, fisheries science would recommend restrictions on fishing effort, gear use, restrictions on fishing areas and time, and on the species and sizes of caught individuals (Walters 1986). Environmental sciences would recommend reducing greenhouse gasses and other pollutants to reduce climate warming and water quality issues. These recommendations, while apparently simple, are associated with costs or subsidies (such as management) and trade-offs (such as jobs and net income) that are difficult to resolve, optimize or implement unless the human adaptive capacity is more fully considered. Consequently, the rest of this review will focus on the key sensitivity (dependency) and adaptive capacity issues around marine fisheries and their contribution to food security.

Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Globally, fisheries are overcapitalized and over-subsidized, leading not only to losses in gross food production, but also to larger losses in potential income (World Bank 2009). This status varies considerably across scales of resource use, and the sensitivity of a community or nation to suboptimal usage of resources is a reflection of their local importance to livelihood and nutrition security and vulnerability. Sensitivity will vary with the scale of the analysis and the severity of disturbance or exposure of the fishery system. Indices of vulnerability of fisheries to climate change have been developed at both global and western Indian Ocean (WIO) regional scale to determine the distribution of these impacts. For a national example, Allison et al. (2009) calculated a global index of vulnerability to climate change that incorporated an indicator of sensitivity based on fish catch production, fisheries exports, per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the number of people working in aquaculture and capture fisheries and dependence on fish as a primary source of protein. The dependency (sensitivity) index was combined with the expected exposure to global warming and a multivariate measure of adaptive capacity based on governance and human development indicators, and 13 or 14 of the 15 countries with the highest vulnerability of fisheries to climate change were in Africa, depending on the emissions scenarios used. Many countries were in western Africa, but Mozambique was also highly vulnerable under both emissions scenarios used.

In the WIO example, the fisheries sector does not appear to contribute greatly to the GDP or workforces at the national scale except in the Seychelles, and to a lesser extent Maldives, and Comoros (McClanahan and Cinner 2012). However, because many of the countries are large, have sizable inland populations and artisanal coastal catches are not well quantified, national-level statistics do not properly reflect the sensitivity of coastal communities to changes in the fishery. Cinner and Bodin (2010) highlighted this mismatch between country-level data and community-level realities from a study of >1600 households from 29 communities throughout coastal Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius. This community-level study found the level of dependence on fishing, as either a primary or secondary occupation, was extremely high, in contrast to the national-level statistics. Seychellois communities, which had high national dependency, had very low levels of household dependency on fishing in contrast to several communities in Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar (Fig. 1). Below, we evaluate sensitivity and adaptive capacity at various scales where studies have been conducted.

image

Figure 1. Household dependency on fishing in several communities studied in Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar. Taken from McClanahan and Cinner (2012).

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National scale

Sensitivity in the context of food security may be affected by national-level dependence on trade while at the local-level dependence on natural resources, such as the relative production and profitability of local fisheries and agriculture can be critical. At the national level, Kawarazuka and Béné (2011) have scaled the 30 most fish-consumption-dependent nations and found that between 34 and 76% of their protein from animals comes from fish. Nevertheless, lower-income consumers in many of these countries mostly rely on plant sources of protein, such as beans and pulses, but there are some countries, such as small-island developing states (SIDS) like the Maldives, Solomon Islands, Comoros, Seychelles and Vanuatu, where the plant source of protein are less available, being dependent on imports, and fish is more accessible than plant protein.

In the WIO region, which has a high degree of political instability and natural resource dependence, agriculture (generally rain fed) comprises a significant proportion (>20%) of the national GDP of Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Comoros and Somalia. In every country in the region, except Kenya, agriculture contributes to a higher proportion of the workforce employed than a contribution to national GDP (Fig. 2). This highlights that, in this region, agriculture provides direct food security and indirect contributions through household income, rather than sectorial economic growth, despite growing commercialization and export-orientation of parts of the sector (Salami et al. 2010).

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Figure 2. Contributions of (a) fisheries and (b) as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and GDP/employment in the countries of the western Indian Ocean. Taken from McClanahan and Cinner (2012).

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More than 60% of the workforce in Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Comoros and Somalia would be highly sensitive to changes in agricultural production. Typically, fishing households in this region replace beans and domestic animal protein with fish, but they are sufficiently interchangeable that there is considerable food security stability in this portfolio of protein sources, if local and national conditions are conducive to providing a choice. Fish provide much more than protein, however, and the iron, iodine, vitamin A, calcium, and essential amino acids in some fish species are critical for child development, maternal health and maintenance of good health in later life. Moreover, it is often the smaller fish, consumed whole and more affordable by lower-income consumers, that provide the most micro-nutrient rich contributions to diets (Kawarazuka and Béné 2011).

A national-level analysis specific to the food security around coral reef fisheries evaluated the exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of nations with coral reef fisheries based on current social-ecological theory of vulnerability (Fig. 3; Hughes et al. 2012). Exposure estimated threats to coral reefs from a set of 38 categories including variables associated with fishing, land use changes, invasive species, shipping and pollution (Halpern et al. 2008). Sensitivity was defined as the degree to which a country is dependent on coral reef fisheries for food where the dependence is measured as the proximity of the food system to some damage threshold (Leurs 2005). In this example, they used the FAO and WHO recommended a minimum daily total protein requirement of 30 g per person per day and estimated the country sensitivity based on how much of this threshold was provided by coral reef fisheries. The adaptive capacity is complex and based on many variables that were grossly categorized as assets, flexibility, learning and social organization (Cinner et al. 2009a). Assets were estimated by GDP, access to sanitation and marine protected areas; flexibility by the GINI index (a measure of societal inequality) and the trade balance as a proportion of the GDP; learning by the adult literacy and involvement of science in decision-making; and social organization as metrics of fisheries management, fisheries in national planning and government effectiveness index.

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Figure 3. Structure of the fisheries and food security–specific vulnerability index, composite sub-indices and components indicators used in Hughes et al. (2012) national analysis of food security vulnerability.

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These vulnerability metrics are the best available proxies and provide a broad overview of a nation's vulnerability, but the framework is also data-intensive, and therefore, only 27 of the 86 countries reporting coral reef fish catches had sufficient publically available data to evaluate the exposure by this theoretically robust method (Fig. 4). Of these 27 countries, Indonesia and Liberia were identified as most and Malaysia and Sri Lanka as least vulnerable nations. A number of African countries, including Madagascar, Kenya, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Comoros, had higher than average vulnerability scores despite relatively small coral reef areas. Another category of vulnerability was found in Brazil, Mexico and Thailand, which had high adaptive capacity but very high sensitivity, which resulted in mid-range vulnerability levels.

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Figure 4. Ternary plot showing the combination of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity scores factors underlying individual countries' vulnerability scores from Hughes et al. (2012).

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Overall, there were generally two common national vulnerability characterizations: low-income countries with low adaptive capacity and middle-income countries with higher adaptive capacity but high sensitivity. The authors, therefore, suggested using results to inform context-specific policies to build adaptive capacity in the low-income countries and to decrease sensitivity in middle-income countries. The study also compared their results to more generic vulnerability methods for coral reef countries that use more readily available UN statistical data (Burke et al. 2011), and they found a number of differences in the scaling of the countries by the two methods. Many of the SID countries highly dependent on coral reef resources lacked data to be included in this evaluation and suggest a research need for developing appropriate national policies.

A regional analysis of many of the Pacific SIDS used a simpler and more accessible data, and analysis based on the consumption rates and preferences of fish and human population growth rates forecasted the future requirements for fish in Pacific SIDS by 2030 (Bell et al. 2009). They projected that many Pacific SIDS will, in the next 20 years, experience a shortfall without policy, demographic and economic changes. Many of the islands of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Vanuatu, Fiji, Western and American Samoa, Wallis and Futuna, Niue, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are expected to face shortfalls. The authors recommend that national planners and managers need to determine whether exporting fish, particularly inshore fish, will create food security problems, consider whether the resources aimed at current aquaculture developments might not be better aimed at reducing long-distance exports and imports, improving fisheries management, distributing pelagics caught and processed centrally (i.e. tuna (Thunnus), Scombridae) to the more remote islands in the region and developing other non-marine sources of protein. These are probably good recommendations for SIDS and fish-dependent countries more widely.

Community scale

These sectorial and national evaluations are useful and critical but frequently insufficient. In most tropical coastal communities, people regularly engage in a range of occupational sectors, such as agriculture, fisheries and informal economic activities, such as casual labour or entrepreneurial activities, including small shops or transportation, that are generally not monitored and taxed by the government (Allison and Ellis 2001; Barrett et al. 2001; Pomeroy et al. 2006). The ways that fisheries are embedded in a landscape of other economic activities have critical implications for how fisheries, and food security more broadly, influence political stability. Further, Cinner et al. (2012a) showed that there is considerable variance between communities with countries that can mask the specific sensitivities and adaptive capacity and, therefore, the specific adaptation or development needs of communities (Fig. 5; Cinner et al. 2012a).

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Figure 5. Plot of the vulnerability of coastal communities to the impacts of coral bleaching on fisheries. Adaptive capacity (x-axis; note values reversed so high adaptive capacity is on the left) is plotted against Sensitivity (y-axis) such that more vulnerable communities are in the top right of the graph and less vulnerable communities in the bottom left. These two dimensions of vulnerability can be modified by policy and development. The third dimension of vulnerability, exposure, is represented as the size of the bubble (larger = more exposure). To aid in visualization, exposure values were represented as the lowest, middle and highest third rather than scaled to actual site values. Colours represent a gradient of vulnerability based on the country's mean vulnerability score from least vulnerable (green) to most vulnerable (red): dark green = Mauritius, light green = Seychelles, yellow = Madagascar, orange = Tanzania, red = Kenya. Taken from Cinner et al. (2012a).

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Recent studies have used network analysis as a means to visualize the relationships between fisheries and other occupational sectors, in what is referred to as a ‘livelihood landscape’ (Cinner and Bodin 2010; Cinner et al. 2012a). These studies used systematic surveys of households in coastal communities throughout several WIO countries to examine how the fishery is embedded in the wider economy. Respondents were asked to list all of the occupations people in the household engage in to bring food or money into their house, and then asked to rank these in order of importance. This allowed researchers to examine the level of participation in different occupational sectors, whether and how households participated in multiple sectors (i.e. the linkages between sectors) and also whether and how specific occupations were consistently ranked as being more or less important than others (i.e. the directionality of linkages).

The analysis of livelihood landscapes in 18 communities across Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar found that households in Kenya had the least complex occupational network. Interestingly, in Kenya, most arrows between occupations were unidirectional (Fig. 6), suggesting that households consistently ranked one occupation over another. In Kenya, the informal sector was clearly the central occupational node, but the only arrows coming out of the informal sector were to the agriculture sector, suggesting that for those who rely on the informal sector as a primary occupation, there are probably few other options available, except for agriculture. Conversely, there were many incoming arrows to the informal sector, suggesting the informal sector is likely a refuge for excess labour and activities in most other sectors. Fishing also occupied a large node in our sample but was not as well connected as agriculture and salaried occupations and therefore not as critical as agriculture.

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Figure 6. Livelihood landscape maps of 18 coastal communities in select parts of coastal Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar. The size of a node indicates the relative involvement in that occupational sector (larger node means more people are involved). The direction of the arrows indicates the priority of ranking. Thus, an arrow into an occupation indicates that the occupation was ranked lower than the occupation the arrow came from. The thickness of the arrows corresponds to the proportion of households being engaged in the, by themselves, higher ranked occupation that are also engaged in the lower ranked occupation. The proportion of the node that is shaded represents the proportion of people that ranked that occupation as a primary occupation. Adopted from Cinner and Bodin (2010).

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Tanzania had a slightly more complicated occupational network, with coastal residents also engaging in gleaning and mariculture. In the Tanzanian communities studied, fishing was the largest node. Salaried employment and tourism had the highest levels of centrality, which suggests that for those who can get salaried occupations, they are considered more important relative to other household livelihoods.

Interestingly, even though all coastal communities surveyed in Madagascar were very rural and remote (Cinner et al. 2009a), while Kenya and Tanzania had urban and peri-urban areas surveyed, Madagascar had the most complicated occupational network. All occupational sectors were linked with at least four others. In comparison, in Kenya and Madagascar, certain occupational sectors (cash crops and tourism, respectively) were linked with only one sector. In Madagascar, agriculture was clearly the largest occupational node, but it contained many large incoming arrows, indicative of its high centrality. Thus, agriculture is a critical occupation in coastal Madagascar, but often ranked lower than other occupations. Cash crops (such as vanilla) played a larger role in Madagascar than in Kenya or Tanzania, but this sector was often ranked lower than other occupations.

This evaluation shows how the local-level dependencies and interactions differ at the local level in national economies of countries with various levels of poverty. The poorest nations appear to be the more connected, and this is likely to provide them with a risk-spreading approach that can buffer disturbances (Cinner and Bodin 2010). For example, in Tanjona, Madagascar, some local residents responded to a collapse in the price of vanilla prices by increasing their fishing effort (Cinner et al. 2009a). Capacity to deal with change or adaptive capacity requires assets and flexibility to help people weather disturbances, and this may increasing involve having secondary occupations to persist through severe global shocks, but these sectors provide some net gains or benefits to livelihood costs.

Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Adaptive capacity is critical to reducing food insecurity and refers to the conditions that enable people to (i) anticipate and respond to changes, (ii) minimize, cope with, and recover from the consequences of change and (iii) take advantage of new opportunities (Adger and Vincent 2005). People with high adaptive capacity are less likely to suffer from environmental and human disturbances and are therefore better able to take advantage of the opportunities to increase their food security. Below, we further evaluate the four key aspects of adaptive capacity developed by Cinner et al. (2009d) (flexibility, assets, learning and social organization) in a food security context. We argue that progressive and successful policies and management are most likely to take a diagnostic or context-specific and forward-looking approach where these responses are specific to the social-ecological context and identify key factors limiting progress towards the desired social-ecological or food security state (Andrew et al. 2007; Ostrom 2007; McClanahan et al. 2008, 2009b). One-type-fits all solutions, such as the creation of marine protected areas or introducing private or community fishing rights, cannot solve the diversity of specific and immediate problems facing the sector. Below, we discuss just a few examples of adaptive capacity factors that are topical to marine food security.

Flexibility

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

National level

Flexibility of individuals and institutions is a critical component of adaptive capacity that is evident at various scales of the economy. Understanding where sources of flexibility already exist and where it can be increased is critical in effectively building and managing the resilience of social-ecological systems. The above analysis of national-level vulnerability to food insecurity for coral reefs identified socio-economic equity as measured by the GINI coefficient and trade as measures of flexibility at the national level. We are unaware of studies that have evaluated social equity on fisheries, but it is expected that the more even access to resources will result in more efficient usage. Co-management, which is a form of social organization promoting equity, has, however, been evaluated and found to increase fish biomass in a fishery (Cinner et al. 2012c) and reduce both local and international conflicts over access to territorial waters in Asian fisheries (Pomeroy et al. 2006). The reduction in conflict and increase in resources are expected to reduce negative effects on ecosystems and fisheries (Hendrix and Glaser 2011; McClanahan et al. 2011).

Trade is another aspect of flexibility, and trade in fish products is now the largest globally traded food commodity and often considered a key way for nations to improve their economies and food security. Nevertheless, the relationship between international trade in fish and food security is complex and appears to vary greatly from country to country (Allison 2011). A preliminary analysis found that some countries with large offshore fisheries, such as Namibia, greatly benefited from international trade, while those with coastal fisheries, such a Ghana, Philippines and Kenya did not (Kurien 2004). Subsequent analyses have largely supported the early finding and suggest a more context-specific and diagnostic approach when evaluating the potential benefits of trade on food security (Béné et al. 2010; Allison 2011).

Individual and community level

In many coastal communities, the flexibility to switch between livelihood strategies is critical for resource users to cope with the high uncertainties and seasonal variability associated with fishing, farming and other livelihoods (Allison and Ellis 2001). Flexibility can influence how people cope with change and avoid poverty traps where low assets and job options can prevent overcoming disturbances (Carter and Barrett 2006). In a hypothetical set of questions, Kenya fishers were asked how they would respond to sustained declines in their catch and those most inclined to remain in the fishery were poorer and had few livelihood alternatives (Fig. 7; Cinner et al. 2009b). Nevertheless, when a similar analysis was conducted at a regional scale, these responses varied by country along a gradient of national wealth and suggested the reverse response when moving across national scales in this region (Daw et al. 2012).

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Figure 7. Response of fishers to a hypothetical 50% catch decline in five countries along a gradient of national wealth. Mada. = Madagascar, Tanz. = Tanzania, Maur. = Mauritius, Seych. = Seychelles. Taken from Daw et al. (2012).

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Daw et al. (2012) found that site-level factors had the greatest influence on readiness to exit, but contrary to the findings about household wealth, readiness to exit declined with increased community-level infrastructure development, economic vitality and the biomass of the fish. Thus, local histories with greater specialization of fishing households, or higher rewards from fishing in more economically developed sites due to technology, market access, catch value and government subsidies, influenced their stated responses. Fishers in poor countries with more livelihoods and lower catch value were more willing to exit probably because they had a risk-spreading strategy that allowed them to easily move between alternatives as described above for livelihood landscapes. Consequently, adaptive responses are influenced by factors at multiple scales and social-ecological context.

Assets

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Resource and economic assets help people to adapt to environmental changes by providing resources to draw on during sparse and changing conditions. Assets include various technologies that can increase production or provide monitoring and early warning systems and provide key infrastructure and sufficient biological resources that assist coping with environmental change. A key aspect of adaptive capacity is access to assets needed to mobilize resource stakeholder in the face of change (Adger 1999; Barrett et al. 2001). The asset metrics used above included the GDP, sanitation infrastructure and areas in marine protected areas, but other important aspects include the abundance and ecological state of the resource and alternative infrastructures, such as aquaculture. There are many assets that influence a fishery both positively and negatively (Cinner et al. 2009c) and just a few are discussed below.

Aquaculture

Aquaculture production now accounts for nearly 50% of the current consumption of seafood (including freshwater fish) products and is expected to increase with demand for seafood and declining profitability of wild-caught fisheries. Global per capita food consumption of farmed fish has increased from 0.7 to 7.8 kg from 1970 to 2008, or a 6.6% annual rate of increase – higher than human population growth (FAO 2011). The markets, however, tend to be specialized, and the production is very regional. For example, in the mid 2000s of the approximately 60 million metric tons per year of global production, Asia produced 50 million metric tons per year compared with 1 million metric tons per year in Africa, and by far, the largest development is in Asia, mostly in China. This growth has been driven by rising demand from growing and urbanizing populations; stagnating supplies from capture fisheries, investment in education and technology research, a dynamic private sector and high levels of public investment in infrastructure to support agricultural development.

China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines have developed a vibrant small and medium enterprise (SME) sector during the past 15 years, which target both domestic and international markets (Beveridge et al. 2010). Aquaculture accounts for between 15 and 50% of the value of their agriculture in these countries (Scholtens and Badjeck 2010). Aquaculture developments frequently claim increased food security and reduced poverty benefits, but this assumption is rarely tested, and it is most likely that revenues accrue largely to a small number of relatively wealthy people in SME production, and in processing and trade, and the extra production is sometimes directed towards exports to developed countries or for consumption by the growing middle classes in Asian cities. There is some evidence, however, that aquaculture development drives down the price of fish in domestic markets and makes it more affordable to the poor (Beveridge et al. 2010). Deeper analysis is needed before causal linkages can be inferred and poverty and food security benefits can be claimed. Clearly, the location, scales and types of aquaculture will be critical to whether it can increase food and nutrition security.

One surprising trend in aquaculture is the steady price over the past 15 years during a time when wild-caught fisheries prices are rising (FAO 2011). Given that fishmeal produced from wild-caught fisheries is commonly used in aquaculture and conversion ratios from wild fish to farm fish production, in the early stages of development, were typically 7:1, this is an unexpected outcome that arises during the early evolution of market processes. These conversion ratios are declining with various improvements and efficiencies that have continued over the past 30 years and expected to continue (Tacon and Metian 2008). Factors responsible for this include selecting species with faster growth and feeding low in the food web, reducing fish meal in the diets and replacing it with more plant-based feeds, increased efficiencies in technological, labour, energy, land use and economies of scale due to access to large markets, such as China and the multinational food industries.

This aquatic green revolution has, unfortunately, not resulted in many quantitative studies assessing the impact on poverty and food security (Allison 2011). Nevertheless, one clear message that emerges is that benefits of increased trade are dependent on existing relations of power, with those at the end of global value chains (small-scale producers, processing factory workers) sometimes remaining in poverty despite increases in trade revenue and domestic formal-sector employment (Geheb et al. 2008; Islam 2008). There are inevitable trade-offs between maintaining coastal commons and developing coastal aquaculture, between growing rice on coastal land and converting it to prawn (e.g. Penaeidae) farms.

Improved coastal, land use and wetland and water resource planning can help avoid disputes escalating into conflicts or macroeconomic choices leading to social injustices. In general, improved environmental and social governance in aquaculture is addressing some of the worst excesses of the past, such as large-scale mangrove conversion and displacement of small-scale fishers and farmers (Hall et al. 2011). Many studies have suggested that aquaculture at the smallest scale (small-scale farmers with ponds; coastal household-based enterprises) fails more frequently compared with small- and medium-scale enterprise approaches and, that aquaculture development therefore requires an intermediate level of social and economic capital to succeed and, if thought of as a micro-enterprise for asset-poor and vulnerable agricultural small-holders, is unlikely to bring either local or global food security benefits (Allison 2011).

Projections of aquaculture production into the future given reasonable IPCC emission scenarios and estimated projected fishmeal and fish oil price estimations, and technological development in aquaculture feed technology, predict that meeting the consumption rates is feasible if the wild fish resources, small pelagic fish from which fish feeds are derived, are managed sustainably, and the animal feeds industry reduces its overall reliance on wild fish feed sources (Merino et al. 2012). The model used to make these predictions is sensitive to the climate-driven production estimates of wild-caught fish for fishmeal, the assumption of good fisheries governance, and the continued substitution of fishmeal and fish oil feeds by vegetable source foods, such as soya and microalgae (Tacon and Metian 2008). These may be optimistic for countries with weak fisheries management, subtropical countries where climate change will reduce primary and fisheries production, and for production of fish that have limits to the substitutability of animal with plant protein in their diets. There could be significant regional disparities in fishmeal fisheries and aquaculture production benefits with climate change and consumer choice, where temperate zone fish meal fisheries and aquaculture could benefit the most (Norway, Iceland, Chile) and the fish production sectors of more food insecure subtropical countries (Peru, Morocco and China) the least.

Specific policy advice for aquaculture from a global review by Allison (2011) recommends supporting the growth of the SME aquaculture sector, and particularly its role in increasing the availability of nutritious, affordable food in domestic markets. In countries with nascent aquaculture sectors, particularly in Africa, this can be achieved by support for innovation systems capable of contributing to the growth of the sub-sector supplying domestic and regional markets. The nutritional, equity and environmental dimensions of aquaculture development also require policy attention to ensure that the sustainability and poverty-reduction benefits of aquaculture development are maximized.

Aquaculture is a potential asset for many countries, but again the specific context where it is likely to succeed have not been well evaluated but is likely to be most useful in regions with medium to high human capital and adaptive capacity, high domestic demand or good trade links, and a poorer state of the wild capture fisheries or dependence on imports, which will mean prices for fish are moderate to high. Aquaculture is expected to be a complement to a diversified fisheries production system and not a replacement of wild-caught fish in providing the protein and micronutrients needed for food security in poor countries.

Natural assets in wild-caught ecosystems

Ecological resources are likely to be key asset for less developed and more food insecure countries where fishing capital and economies of scale have not developed sufficiently to access profitable offshore fishing and aquaculture. For example, fish biomass is one ecosystem asset that has proved useful in evaluating the state of coral reef fisheries resources in the WIO where considerable heterogeneity has been found and associated with different levels of human development and management (Cinner et al. 2009c; McClanahan et al. 2011). McClanahan et al. (2011) found that as the biomass of fish is reduced by fishing, the ecosystem also changes through a series of switch points, where there are rapid changes in ecological characteristics, such as increased variability in benthic algal abundance, the ratio of algae/coral, the rates of predation on sea urchins, the numbers of fish species, sea urchins, calcifying algae and coral cover.

The suggested maximum yields of fish catch occurs before a series of the switches where the passage of each switch point is expected to make it more difficult for the ecosystem to maintain its full set of assets and recover to a state productive for fisheries. The biomass of fish varies greatly in the WIO, where some countries have more or less ecological assets based on fishing pressure and their fisheries management options such as gear restrictions and fisheries closures. Overall, however, some restrictions of fisheries that are often associated with national or co-management systems maintain the ecosystem in a state where the assets and fisheries production are maintained (Cinner et al. 2009c, 2012c; McClanahan et al. 2011). It is expected that maintaining the fish resource assets as some intermediate value before the ecological switch points will make a beneficial trade off between fisheries resources, productivity and ecological resilience that is important for avoiding social-ecological poverty traps and food insecurity.

Learning

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Food security rests on the ability of individuals, institutions and societies to adapt to changes in causal factors that influence food production and assess potential response strategies (Smit and Pilifosova 2003; Fazey et al. 2007). Recognizing change and understanding that people cause both ecosystem degradation and improvement is critical for recognizing opportunities for experimentation with resources (Cinner et al. 2009a). If people do not perceive connections between human activities and the condition of resources, they are not likely to support management initiatives that restrict or manage resources. In some cases, the capacity to learn can be constrained by cultural or religious views that attribute all change to supernatural agents, natural processes and decision-makers too distant, immutable or capricious to control. Low levels of education, poverty and particularly weak governance can promote this vision (Norris and Inglehart 2004). Investments in formal and informal education, scientific research on natural resources and strengthening governance institutions in ways that involve resource users in management decision-making are necessary to increase the capacity to learn about resource and human organization processes and potential impacts of natural and human disturbances.

Adaptive management has been promoted as a useful way of learning while doing that can assist learning in complex social-ecological systems (Walters 1986). This adaptive process can be quite sophisticated in taking advantage of scientific principles of replication, repeatability and Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) designs of management impacts on resources and human organization. The costs are, however, often too prohibitive to be replicated in all of the needed and poorest locations (Johannes 2002), and therefore, case studies, particularly those focused on unresolved issues, are frequently needed.

The power of adaptive management to improve resource management was shown in Kenyan coral reef fisheries, which produced a large increase (40–135%) in the incomes of fishers with typically <5 years of formal education (McClanahan 2010). This adaptive management programme used the principles of the BACI design and along with discussion forums of key stakeholders. In this case, fisheries catches were evaluated by a conservation organization for number of years and shown to be declining (McClanahan et al. 2008). This decline and management options were discussed annually at forums, and a decision to eliminate a type of small meshed net was recommended, which was undertaken by a co-management arrangement between the informal fisheries leaders and the government fisheries department. The management was only undertaken in those landing sites agreeable with the recommendation, and sites without agreement were kept as controls. The study was also undertaken at fish landings adjacent a fisheries closure, which allowed evaluation of the dual effect of the net removal and the closure. The study found that catch rate per person, the size and quality the fish increased, with the largest increases adjacent the fisheries closure (McClanahan 2010). The findings led to resolve among many of the landing sites but still poor adoption in the control sites, which was attributed to social blockages or traps created by the social organization around the damaging gear.

Social organization

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Social-ecological organization is a complex area of human adaptation where collective action is a critical aspect of maintaining food security and responses to disturbances that threaten this security (Adger 2003). Vulnerability to food insecurity is influenced by the effectiveness of the collective institutions, social networks and demographic trends, such as population growth and migration (Thornton et al. 2008). Governance as provided by national governments, societies and informal organizations deliver services needed for adaptation and effectiveness and will depend on levels of political conflicts, corruption, accountability, and, overall trust (Barnett and Adger 2007; Vollan and Ostrom 2010).

Civil society and its leaders in NGOs, trade unions, churches, schools, businesses and professional associations can be crucial to the organization and adaption to food security disturbances (Adger and Vincent 2005; Thomas and Twyman 2005). Further, in these societies, rules and norms create the capacity of people to act collectively and create the useful bonds and interactions known as social capital. Aspects of social organization, such as leadership and effective communication, have proved to be critical to the success of fisheries (McClanahan et al. 2009a; Guttierez et al. 2011; Cinner et al. 2012b,c).

One synthetic and useful approach to evaluating social organization is the institutional design principles that are part of successful management of common property, such as fisheries (Ostrom 1990). These principles were derived from the study of well-documented cases of long enduring common-pool resource systems. These design principles interacting with local conditions can provide credible commitments that resource users will maintain and invest in their institutions over time. Recently, the usefulness of these design principles have been evaluated in the context of making water management institutions adaptive to climate change, resulting in some modifications and expansions of Ostrom's original concepts (Huntjens et al. 2011).

The design principles for climate change adaptation include: (i) clearly defined boundaries, such as geographical or institutional membership rights; (ii) equitable distribution of risks, benefits and costs; (iii) congruence between rules and local conditions (i.e. scale and appropriateness); (iv) collective choice arrangements that provide resource users with rights to make, enforce and change the rules; (v) transparent monitoring and evaluating of both the resource and the management process; (vi) effective arenas for discussion and agreement such as conflict resolution; (vii) the degree to which they are nested within other institutions; (viii) graduated sanctions (penalties that increase with the severity or number of infringements); (ix) robust and flexible processes; and (x) the capacity for policies to be adaptive and change as learning occurs (adapted from Huntjens et al. 2011; Cinner et al. 2012b; Ostrom 1990).

Importantly, many of these design principles are means to achieving adaptive and sustainable institutions, but they are not ends. In some contexts, there may be other, more locally appropriate, means to achieving similar ends. As with Ostrom's initial design principles, these are not intended to be blueprints, but rather encourage adaptation tuned to the specific features of local geography, ecology, economies and cultures (Huntjens et al. 2011).

Several key design principles have been investigated in fisheries to evaluate their current strengths and weaknesses (Cinner et al. 2009d; Table 2, Cinner et al. 2012c). All fisheries have some of these elements, but it is common for some of them to be either missing or weak and the common problematic ones, are often the physical monitoring of the resources and informing local users; the presence of accountability mechanisms for those monitoring the rules; sanctions that increase with repeat offences or graduated sanctions. Monitoring the resource or catch is often carried out by national governments, but in many cases, this information is not fed back to the local level where it can influence decision, but used farther up the management chain by national and international governments, which can lead to long delays and inappropriate recommendations for local management.

Table 2. A comparison of whether key institutional design principles are present in the marine resource co-management frameworks in Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Indonesia. The study of Papua New Guinea, Mexico and Indonesia (Cinner et al. 2012c) was a comparison of a number of specific indigenous fishery case studies, while the study of Kenya and Madagascar (Cinner et al. 2009d) was of the broader fisheries co-management framework. These different scales of analysis are reflected in the language used to describe the degree to which the design principles were present. Several of the design principles proposed by Huntjens et al. (2011), such as policy learning and robust and flexible processes, were not evaluated and difficult to quantify post hoc, so are not included. Adapted from Cinner et al. (2009d, 2012c)
Design principleDescriptionIndonesiaPNGMexicoKenyaMadagascarNotes
Clearly defined membership rightsClear delineation of membership rights to co-managed areaMost sitesMost sitesYesYesYesMembership rights are clear and registered. In both Kenya and Madagascar, individuals may join only one CBO or GELOSE organization
CongruenceWhether scale and scope of rules are appropriate for the local conditionsAll sitesAll sitesYesYesYesRules are developed by the resource users themselves and can build on local social norms. Scale of management is roughly matched to scale of resource: Many co-management arrangements have coral reef–based fisheries, where reef fish have small home ranges on a scale similar to what is being managed (Cinner et al. 2012c)
Collective choice rightsWhether resource users have rights to make, enforce, and change the rulesAll sitesAll sitesYesYesYesIn both countries, by-laws must be approved by relevant agencies and codified before they can be enforced. Members can conduct enforcement, but law enforcement officers are needed to make arrests
Conflict resolution mechanismsRapid access to effective conflict resolution forumSome sitesSome sitesYesYesYesManagement committee, Provincial administration and Ministry of Fisheries Development in Kenya. Management committee, from local to regional administration and Ministry of Environment in Madagascar
Nested enterprisesNested within lead agencies or partner organizations at critical stagesModerateWeakVery weakPartiallyPartially 
Monitoring of processWhether there are accountability mechanisms for those enforcing the rulesNot present in any siteNot present in any siteUnknownPartiallyPartially**Partially available when wardens are paid to enforce the rules- not part of general framework
Clearly defined geographical boundariesClear delineation of co-management area (OS)Most sitesMost sitesYesPartiallyPartiallyGenerally use landmarks for coastal boundaries and outward extent of shallow water ecosystems for offshore boundaries (e.g. a reef edge)
Graduated sanctionsWhether sanctions increase with numerous offences or the severity of the offenceSome sitesSome sitesYesPartiallyPartiallyIn practice, a first offence is generally warned, a second offence is dealt with locally and a 3rd offence is dealt with by law enforcement/legal system
Monitoring of resourcesQuantitative or qualitative monitoring of resource conditionsFew sitesQualitative monitoring at all sitesYesPartiallyNoBMUs monitor catch and prices, but not in situ resources. At some areas, scientists from NGOs monitor resources but not restricted to BMU or GELOSE areas

The Kenyan adaptive management programme described previously is an example where this information was fed back to the fisheries stakeholders and resulted in subsequent positive changes. Accountability is also weak in places because of a lack of democratic organization around the local-level management system. People employed to monitor and enforce the management are not locally accountable or the system is complicated, indirect and opaque (Prince 2003; Hilborn 2007). Graduated sanctions are also a problem because of the scale of governance may not be able to handle the complicated social organization around norms, rules, laws and bylaws and who is responsible for each of these levels of rulemaking and enforcement. Consequently, while governments and donors have recently been promoting some of the more currently fashionable and immediately feasible institutional models, such as participatory forums and cross-scale and cross-sector integration of governance and clearly defined boundaries, membership and rights, these more problematic institutional elements need more effort to catalyse progressive fisheries (Cinner et al. 2012c).

Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Food security is expected to improve when the above factors are fully considered and integrated into the various levels of development. At the highest policy levels, there is a need to: (i) work more in partnership with development economists, planners and practitioners to avoid a narrowly sectorial perspective and to ensure the sector's development goals fit with wider national economic development policy priorities; (ii) make poverty and food security goals and strategies explicit in fisheries and aquaculture sector policy; (iii) ensure coherence between major cross-sectorial development policies and programmes; and (iv) identify the most promising pathways for positive food security impact through a cross-sectorial diagnosis. Inclusion of these activities is expected to reduce some of the conflicts that have plagued past fisheries development programmes.

When it is possible to plan fisheries developments, we recommend a sequence of activities where the first priority is in securing basic human rights of vulnerable resource users so that people can effectively defend exclusive fishing rights designed to sustain ecosystems and economically viable fisheries. These could be privately owned individual transferable quotas, community rights or state-controlled licensing systems, according to context. These first and second priorities of strengthening both human rights and fishing rights broadly align with ongoing attempts to implement the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (Allison 2011).

Only when poor people's basic human rights and exclusive fishing rights are relatively secure are they likely to benefit from the current trend towards stronger links with global markets. Promotion of global greater market integration should also promote the development of a ‘green economy’ in the fisheries sector through the use of existing instruments governing global value chains, such as Marine Stewardship Council certification (‘ecolabelling’) and fair trade principles (Hatanaka et al. 2005). This sequence will counter some of the problems that arise from unregulated market-driven developments that can undermine natural resources and the livelihoods and food security of dependent people. When markets are poorly coordinated with local social-ecological interactions and institutions, they can become globalized faster than sustainable management can be implemented (Cinner and McClanahan 2006).

Conflict prevention and resolution

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

Conflicts are likely to be reduced by improved implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (FAO 1995) that, for example, urges states to set aside areas for exclusive use by small-scale fisheries. Additionally, stakeholder-based co-management that creates forums for public discussion among different types of fishers can assist conflict resolution. Promoting the rights and inclusion of small-scale fishers in wider development processes will help reduce their marginalization and associated conflicts. National and marine spatial planning of developments such as dam construction, coastal land reclamation, tourism and conservation planning that includes fisher and common property users opinions is expected to reduce conflicts (Douvere 2008). Improving the mechanisms, such as judicial services, for resolving dispute that are fair and transparent within various decision-making and use contexts can help ensure fair governance (Ratner and Allison 2012). While the above factors are important, the wider governance and economic reforms that reduce marginalization will be critical to conflict resolution, as fisheries are part of this wider context.

Conclusions

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

If not resolved, current trends towards declining net resources, increased costs and sensitivity by high resource dependence, inescapable poverty traps through lack of resources and alternatives, a North–South divide in investment and production, and increasing competition for access predict more conflicts between poor and wealthy nations over equitable trade and potentially less food security in the future. Future conflicts between nation states over fishery resource access are likely to be found where there are weak forums and societal dialogue to handle local and international disputes. Disputed territories like the Spratley Islands are potential international flash points where mineral rights, fishing rights and strategic location could drive escalating disputes. Within national boundaries, weak governance and autocracies that ignore democratic processes and reforms are expected to combine with other non-fisheries issues to create internal conflicts. Examples include the Horn of Africa, West Africa, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Philippines and Indonesia where popular resistance is or has attempted to equalize disparities between local elites, outsiders and criminal or military elements. Avoiding these resource inequities will require coherence and cooperation between policies for economic growth, resource management, poverty reduction and food security.

Fish may become a luxury, inaccessible to those who rely on common property. Policies, access rights, and markets and governance systems that function effectively to distribute the benefits of local and global trade while strengthening common property rights will help to avoid the marginalization and food insecurity typical of poor people dependent on aquatic common property (Guttierez et al. 2011; Cinner et al. 2012a). Improving local and regional markets and small- and medium-scale aquaculture and animal husbandry offer counterweights to the possibility of rising global exports and inequity of access (Allison 2011).

Current trends towards fewer subsidies, reduced capital investment, precautionary management to minimize risks of ecosystem collapse, conservation of remaining resources, diversified portfolios of production and markets, and greater equity in contracts and distribution predict a future where these conflicts can potentially be resolved. The diversity of issues and circumstances requires a diagnostic process to assess and guide policy formulation. We recommend a contextual diagnostic and environmental justice framework to assess a range of options for fishery governance reform in terms of their likely impact on the most dependent, food-insecure people (Ratner and Allison 2012). In general, addressing illegal fishing and strengthening property rights (whether state, private, or communal); ensuring that wider aquatic ecosystem service functions are preserved via habitat management; inclusion of fishing-dependent regions in climate change adaptation planning; aligning fishery sector policy with wider environmentally aware development planning; and support for more inclusive, transparent and accountable forms of decision-making in fish value chains will all help to secure the future contribution of aquaculture and fisheries to human food security and wellbeing.

Acknowledgements

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References

We are grateful to the Wildlife Conservation Society, James Cook University, Australian Research Council, the University of East Anglia, the Rockefeller and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundations, the State Department of the United States government, and Cornell University for providing the capacity to complete this manuscript. Orjan Bodin was critical in developing the livelihood landscape concept and analysis in Fig. 6.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Food security and vulnerability
  5. Current status and exposure of marine fisheries
  6. Fisheries conflict and human security
  7. Climate change projections and influences
  8. Global fisheries problem hotspots
  9. Food security from marine fisheries: scaling sensitivity and adaptive capacity
  10. Factors influencing and needed to build adaptive capacity and food security
  11. Flexibility
  12. Assets
  13. Learning
  14. Social organization
  15. Policy coherence and sequenced development intervention
  16. Conflict prevention and resolution
  17. Conclusions
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. References
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