So, here’s the big thing I’m pondering:
Are the current laws and policies for managing this vital common sustainable, and will they be strong or adaptive enough to combat the impacts of climate change?
Listen, this is super important because:
Life in the sea is jeopardized by a dangerous combination of rising temperatures due to climate change and unsustainable fishing practices causing species overexploitation. A growing number of people rely on fisheries for food security and economic benefit. Fisheries and aquaculture supply 17 percent of the animal protein in people’s diets globally, and economically supports 12 percent of the world’s population, which is about 924 million people. Marine and coastal tourism is another major source of economic growth for many island and coastal countries, reaching about $161 billion annually (FAO 2016)
I’ll go [I went] after this big question in the specific context of ___________ , because:
I have chosen Ireland as a case study for my broader look at the global fisheries crisis because it is currently under investigation by the European Commission auditor for its high rate of illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing. Thus, there are policy issues at play here that are interesting to analyze and meaningful/useful to prescribe solutions for.
Ireland’s fisheries operations are also interesting in their own right. Unlike most EU countries, over 90 percent of the approximately 1,400 vessel fishing fleet is made up of skipper/owner single vessel family operations (rather than large commercial operations). The fishing industry is concentrated in poor coastal communities in Ireland, making them particularly dependent on efficient and forward thinking fisheries policy (OECD). They are fishing, in part, in a “biologically sensitive area” which is demarcated on the south coast of Ireland, where there are nursery areas for herring, cod and haddock (SFPA). Due to the latitude of Ireland, experts are not sure how climate change will impact net economic benefit from fisheries, as the shifts in temperature are likely to push stocks that live in lower latitude waters up to Ireland’s EEZ, even as it loses cold water fish to Iceland and Arctic waters (Kroodsma et al. 2018). As part of the European Union (EU) and situated in the North Atlantic, Ireland is subject to United Nations (UN) international treaties concerning the ocean and fisheries, multilateral Regional Fish Management Organizations (RFMOs) regarding species in the North Atlantic, and EU’s the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
What I can try and figure out [What I figured out] there is this more specific question:
Is the confluence of international, regional, and domestic policies sufficient to make Ireland’s fisheries (as a microcosm) and global fisheries sustainable? Where do the issues with the policies lie and how might they be remedied?
Here’s how I plan to answer it [how I answered it]:
(1) Historical timeline: provides context for how fisheries policy has developed since its inception
(2) Policy analysis: analyzing both the language of the documents and the scholarly articles and reports that have analyzed their impacts
(3) Policy recommendation: briefs Ireland’s Sea Fisheries Protection Authority on the issue points found in the policy analysis, and argues for what new policies or amendments to existing policies should be implemented in order to remedy the issues [not fully researched yet, so the fruits of this are not included in the rest of this madlib]
What I expect to find [What I found] is:
The overall body of policy governing Irish waters has strong language and stated goals, but lacks accurate scientific models and monitoring, has weak and inconsistent enforcement, and ultimately fails to prevent the overexploitation of marine fisheries according to the scientific models showing decline.
And as I zoom [zoomed] back out again:
Many of these issues come back to the desire for individual states to maintain autonomy, distrust between scientific and political communities, current needs being privileged over future needs — and all leading to the dilution of the policies enough to make them vague and leave open loopholes for corruption and exploitation.
In a nutshell, then, here’s what I’m hoping to say [saying]:
Globally, we need to refocus our marine fisheries policies to emphasize the importance of accurate and consistent data, implement more strict enforcement measures that induce states to comply rather than side-step or turn a blind eye, and underscore a view that error bars must be taken into account when determining MSY and TAC. Ireland itself needs to increase its enforcement workforce in the vessel monitoring system (VMS), institute stricter regulations on flags of convenience, invest more in scientific data collection and monitoring, and establish stronger protection for the biologically sensitive area off of the south coast.