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UBC Theses and Dissertations

High seas, high risk : a global evaluation of the effectiveness of regional fisheries management organizations Cullis-Suzuki, Sarika


The global decline in coastal fisheries has led to fisheries expansion into high seas. Unlike the majority of fisheries within national jurisdiction, high seas fisheries are managed by intergovernmental entities called ‘regional fisheries management organizations’ (RFMOs). The role of RFMOs is generally that of conserving and managing various stocks and/or species, as is mandated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Here, we examine the global effectiveness of RFMOs as they fulfill this role. The assessment of the world’s current 18 RFMOs is achieved through a two-tiered approach. First, we assess RFMO effectiveness in theory, as determined by their stated commitment to RFMO best practices. Second, we assess RFMO effectiveness in practice, as determined by the state of their managed stocks. Results reveal that, overall, RFMOs are lacking in commitment to best practices. Additionally, out of the 48 stocks that were assessed which are under RFMO management, 32 have critically low biomass and/or are being overfished. Taken together results indicate that RFMO effectiveness is poor, highlighting the need for increased RFMO accountability and performance.

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