UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Improving the management of global and regional tuna fisheries Bailey, Megan Lynn


Tuna can travel thousands of kilometers throughout their lifetime, and are often found in the waters of several nations and the high seas. These ``straddling stocks" are difficult to manage due to competition between the large number of interested fishing nations, all of which can be asymmetric in their economies, management capacity and conservation concerns. This is compounded by the possibility of new members and free riders. It is no surprise then, that tuna fisheries management has, by and large, been unsuccessful in promoting sustainable fisheries. Populations of several of the world's tuna species are fully or over-exploited. This dissertation identifies and addresses areas where improvements in the management of global and regional tuna fisheries may facilitate the continued contribution of these fisheries to livelihoods and food security. I analyze private and social resource rent derived from fishing for different tuna species and by different gear types. From these results I identify key management targets. Management efforts are formalized through Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), groups which are mandated to promote cooperative agreements and fair and equitable allocation approaches. Stable cooperative agreements, however, have been hard to come by for tuna RFMOs, in part because the issue of allocations has not been appropriately targeted. I propose a combined socio-economic and ecological approach formulated from the perspective of fisheries benefits, as opposed to just catch, which could facilitate stable cooperative agreements for sustaining tuna stocks into the distant future. Tuna fisheries in the western and central Pacific provide over half of the world's tuna, but lack of effective management capacity in Indonesia and the Philippines threatens the sustainability of these fisheries. I argue that countries that fish in this region, most specifically Papua New Guinea, would be wise to help facilitate improved management capacity in these countries. One of the major management challenges in this region is the bycatch of juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna in the skipjack purse seine fishery. Through applied game-theoretic modelling, I conclude that reduction in juvenile bycatch brought about by cooperative management of these fisheries would provide long-term ecological and economic benefits.

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