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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Five not so easy pieces : globalization of fishing and seafood markets Swartz, Wilfram


Over the past 60 years, the world’s marine fisheries have more than quadrupled their total output from 20 million t to around 80 million t. Yet, a closer examination of the catch statistics, as conducted in this thesis, reveals that this increase was achieved by geographical expansion of the global fisheries from the coastal waters off North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific to the waters in the Southern Hemisphere and into the high seas. The globalization of fisheries coincides with the globalization of seafood markets and an analysis of trade statistics carried out in this dissertation indicates net flows of marine fisheries resources into the markets of the EU, Japan and USA with their “consumption footprints” covering most of the world’s ocean. Recognizing the global limit to growth, various international initiatives have been launched in recent years to improve the state of world’s marine fisheries. This thesis examines fisheries subsidies negotiations at the World Trade Organization and its failure to reach an agreement, despite a general consensus that some forms of fisheries subsidies contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. The failure of the WTO negotiations exposes the difficulties of overcoming the status quo in fisheries. This thesis argues that improvements in our understanding of the states of world fisheries and their values and economic contributions are critical to achieving meaningful political actions. As such, the thesis explores two approaches for enhancing existing fisheries statistics. First, a new methodology for predicting the values of seafood across various national markets was developed, allowing improved economic evaluations of fisheries resources and the fisheries industry. Second, a recently developed catch-reconstruction method was applied to the fisheries of Japan to examine the scale of previously ignored components of marine fisheries catch even in countries where fisheries are generally considered to be data-rich. The two approaches presented, jointly, should enable the development of a more comprehensive picture of the state of marine fisheries which can then be presented to the public; a picture that, combined with other efforts by fisheries scholars around the world, I hope, will speak loud enough to initiate the transition to sustainable fishing.

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