Emergence of global adaptive governance for stewardship of regional marine resources


Overfishing has historically caused widespread stock collapses in the Southern Ocean. Until recently, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing threatened to result in the collapse of some of the few remaining valuable fish stocks in the region and vulnerable seabird populations. Currently, this unsustainable fishing has been reduced to less than 10% of former levels. We describe and analyze the emergence of the social-ecological governance system that made it possible to curb the fisheries crisis. For this purpose, we investigated the interplay between actors, social networks, organizations, and institutions in relation to environmental outcomes. We drew on a diversity of methods, including qualitative interviews, quantitative social network and survey data, and literature reviews. We found that the crisis triggered action of an informal group of actors over time, which led to a new organization (ISOFISH) that connected two independent networks (nongovermental organizations and the fishing industry), and later (COLTO) linked to an international body and convention (CCAMLR). The emergence of the global adaptive governance systems for stewardship of a regional marine resource took place over a 15-year period. We describe in detail the emergence process and illustrate the usefulness of analyzing four features of governance and understanding social-ecological processes, thereby describing structures and functions, and their link to tangible environmental outcomes.

Keywords: CCAMLR, governance, IUU fishing, marine ecology, Southern Ocean, toothfish

Citation: Österblom, H. and C. Folke. 2013 Ecology & Society 18(2):4.

Emergence of global adaptive governance for stewardship of regional marine resources

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