Letters

Good governance for migratory species

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Science  21 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6408, pp. 1208-1209
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2051

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  • Governance for species on the move needs mechanisms for newly shared fisheries
    • Malin L. Pinsky, Associate Professor, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
    • Other Contributors:
      • Gabriel Reygondeau, Research Associate, University of British Columbia
      • Richard Caddell, Lecturer, Cardiff University
      • Juliano Palacios-Abrantes, Ph.D. student, University of British Columbia
      • Jessica Spijkers, Ph.D. student, Stockholm University and James Cook University
      • William W. L. Cheung, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

    We applaud the efforts by Aqorau et al.(1) to highlight a strong example of countries managing multi-national fisheries cooperatively and to a large extent successfully, particularly in a region that is likely to experience especially negative impacts from climate change (2). The system developed by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) is particularly notable for its system of internationally tradable fisheries access, its approach for regularly updating fisheries access to reflect changes in stock distribution, and the cross-national cap on total fishing effort. All of these are measures that can help countries maintain sustainable fisheries in the face of species on the move, and few fisheries anywhere in the world currently implement these measures (3). We agree with Aqorau et al. that implementing such measures more widely could help avoid fisheries conflict now and in the future.

    However, nearly all fisheries agreements (including the PNA) have gaps around what is perhaps the most challenging aspect of fisheries on the move: a stock that moves to straddle new national boundaries. Incentives for conservation can be rapidly eroded when new parties gain access to a stock and have no agreed-upon responsibilities for shared conservation and management. Such a situation can spark a race to fish and overfishing, as has been observed in the past (3).

    Skipjack tuna, for example, are projected to shift towards the Cook Islands, French Pacific Island territori...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.