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Diagnosing Oceanic Commons: ICCAT and the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Epstein, Graham; Nenadovic, Mateja; Cox, Michael; Boustany, Andre
Conference: Commoners and the Changing Commons: Livelihoods, Environmental Security, and Shared Knowledge, the Fourteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Mt. Fuji, Japan
Conf. Date: June 3-7
Date: 2013
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8879
Sector: Fisheries
Subject(s): fisheries
common pool resources--theory
Abstract: "The governance of oceanic fisheries is a growing concern in the twenty-first century as their contribution to global food security and livelihoods are threatened by declining stocks. Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ABFT) is a prominent example of the complexities associated with managing oceanic resources with their extensive range, which includes much of the North-Atlantic and Mediterranean. This wide ranging distribution has led to limited attention from commons theorists that tend to focus on small-scale social ecological systems. In order to explore the fit between theories of the commons developed in small-scale systems, we applied the Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database to systematically analyze ABFT governance over a 22 year period by the International Commission on the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna. The results, which focus on the effects of resource characteristics, broadly correspond to expectations from commons theory. Interestingly, however, the addition of resource storage in the form of ABFT ranches appears to be contributing to unsustainable harvests. This stands in contrast to previous findings in the commons literature that storage tends to enhance prospects for sustainable governance. As a result of this finding several alternative hypotheses are identified for future research to consider the conditions under which storage enhances prospects for sustainable governance. Secondary contributions of this study include demonstrating the potential value of linking case studies to a large-n database for the purpose of generating and testing hypotheses, and adding an alternative theoretical perspective with which to study and explore ABFT governance."

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