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Climate Change and Global Fisheries Management: Linking Issues to Protect Ecosystems or to Save Political Interests?

By Mark Axelrod


This article explores the conditions under which regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) adopt climate actions. I test a series of hypotheses to explain when RFMOs move beyond their classic management approaches—assignment of property rights, catch limits, and gear restrictions—to include climate change in their research and management plans. I introduce a new data set that compares fisheries-climate linkages since 1992 in all available RFMO annual reports and meeting minutes. The analysis reveals a series of patterns surrounding linkage politics in RFMOs. Importantly, this study finds that climate linkages in RFMOs do not simply follow scientific knowledge or regional climate vulnerability. Instead, climate action coincides with member country efforts to avoid catch regulations, and secretariat efforts to exhibit organizational relevance. © 2011 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

DOI identifier: 10.1162/GLEP_a_00069
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