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Strengthening Governance of Small-Scale Fisheries: An Initial Assessment of the Theory and Practice

Small-scale fisheries (SSFs), most of which are found in developing countries, have been poorly measured at a global level, and they have often been ignored in states’ policy making—yet estimates suggest their aggregate global contribution to nutrition, food security, and poverty eradication is massive. These fisheries face multiple conflicts over space and resources—conflicts that scholars now believe can be mitigated with interactive governance or ecosystem-based management. However, there is little consensus in the literature on how local conditions affect linkages between desired outcomes and different forms of governance in small-scale fisheries (i.e., there is no appropriate full-fledged framework to understand under what conditions a particular form of government will lead to sustainable or more equitable use of marine resources in one geographic region versus another). A diverse group of organizations provide support to small-scale fisheries governance, typically support for science and research, governance capacity building, bridging functions across different organizations and geographies, policy development, policy delivery, alternative livelihoods/compensation for reduced fishing, and technology innovations. The level of financing provided to support small-scale fisheries governance varies according to the financier, but worldwide is likely to be relatively small. Another challenge is achieving small-scale fisheries governance reform at a large spatial scale (e.g., at the scale of ecosystems or value chains). Through surveys and a global workshop, practitioners around the world were asked how they would approach this challenge. They recommended (1) building a new global research agenda to fill in knowledge gaps on small-scale fisheries and communities, (2) supporting agents of change by establishing a capacity building platform for small-scale fisheries to better organize, and (3) expanding direct support to SSF communities to govern in a manner consistent with sustainable management guidelines and with the support of state agencies where needed. These recommendations could inform a round of increased global support for small-scale fisheries as part of the movement to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, turning them into reality, and supporting SSF governance reform widely enough to make global progress toward the SDGs, will likely require much more capital—including more public aid and private investment.

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Ocean and Coastal Policy

Fisheries

Reports

Measuring the Human “So What” of Large-Scale Coral Loss

Recent mass bleachings of coral reefs highlight the need to evaluate the human consequences of such large-scale coral damage—but scientists lack accurate, global, and empirical baseline data on the human dimensions of coral reefs. This article in Biodiversity explores this challenge.

Authors: Linwood Pendleton and Peter Edwards

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Ocean and Coastal Policy

Journal Articles

When Ecosystems and Their Services Are Not Co-located: Oceans and Coasts

Local, regional, and global policies to manage protect and restore our oceans and coasts call for the inclusion of ecosystem services (ES) in policy-relevant research. Marine and coastal ES and the associated benefits to humans are usually assessed, quantified, and mapped at the ecosystem level to inform policy and decision-making. Yet those benefits may reach humans beyond the provisioning ecosystem, at the regional or even global level. Current efforts to map ES generated by a single ecosystem rarely consider the distribution of benefits beyond the ecosystem itself, especially at the regional or global level. In this article, we elaborate on the concept of “extra-local” ES to refer to those ES generating benefits that are enjoyed far from the providing ecosystem, focusing on the marine environment. We emphasize the spatial dimension of the different components of the ES provision framework and apply the proposed conceptual framework to food provision and climate regulation ES provided by marine and coastal ecosystems. We present the different extents of the mapping outputs generated by the ecosystem-based vs. the extra-local mapping approach and discuss practical and conceptual challenges of the approach. Lack of relevant ES mapping methodologies and lack of data appeared to be the most crucial bottlenecks in applying the extra-local approach for marine and coastal ES. We urge for more applications of the proposed framework that can improve marine and coastal ES assessments help fill in data gaps and generate more robust data. Such assessments could better inform marine and coastal policies, especially those linked to equal attribution of benefits, compensation schemes and poverty alleviation.

Authors: Evangelia G. Drakou, Linwood Pendleton, Micah Effron, Jane Carter Ingram, and Lida Teneva

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Ocean and Coastal Policy

Journal Articles

Sustainable Ocean Economy, Innovation, and Growth: A G20 Initiative for the 7th Largest Economy in the World

The authors of this G20 Insights policy brief say that the G20 should initiate a global ocean governance process, and they call for ocean economy dialogues, strategies, and regional cooperation to ensure that investment and growth in ocean use become sustainable and reach their full potential. They note that the ocean is the largest and most critical ecosystem on Earth, with many interactions between the ocean Sustainable Development Goal (SDG14) and other SDGs. Though potentially the largest provider of food, materials, energy, and ecosystem services, the ocean is stressed by increasing demand for resources, technological advances, overfishing, climate change, pollution, biodiversity, and habitat loss. Moreover, inadequate stewardship and law enforcement are contributing to the ocean’s decline. As a standing agenda item for the G20, and with associated good governance, a sustainable ocean economy can improve the health and productivity of ocean ecosystems. Better governance, appreciation of the economic value of the ocean, and “blue economy” strategies can reduce conflicts among uses; ensure financial sustainability, ecosystem integrity, and prosperity; and promote long-term national growth and employment in maritime industries.

Authors: Martin Visbeck, Kristian Teleki, Mia Pantzer, Michael K. Orbach, Patrick ten Brink, John Virdin, Julian Rochette, Anna-Kathrina Hornidge, Andrew Farmer, Daniela Russi, Torsten Thiele, Rajni Bakshi, Rajiv Bhatia, Benjamin Boteler, Miguel Heredia, R. Andreas Kraemer, Ina Krüger, Grit Martinez, Akshay Mathur, Linwood Pendleton, Tiago Pitta e Cunha, Cyrus Rustomjee, and Scott Vaughan

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Blue Economy

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Policy Briefs

Blue Carbon Financing of Mangrove Conservation in the Abidijan Convention Region: A Feasibility Study

Coastal vegetated ecosystems such as mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes have long benefited coastal communities and fisheries, and in recent years have been recognized internationally for their significant capacity to sequester and store carbon (“blue carbon”)—at rates that surpass those of tropical forests. Yet these ecosystems are being converted rapidly. Current annual mangrove deforestation has been estimated to emit 240 million tons of carbon dioxide. For this reason, financing mechanisms to pay those tropical countries that have significant blue carbon resources to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation have been explored as a means to fund mangrove conservation. This report by the United Nations Environment Programme, the Abidjan Convention Secretariat, and GRID-Arendal explores the potential of international carbon finance mechanisms to help fund mangrove conservation along the coast of West, Central, and Southern Africa that is covered by the Abidjan Convention—from the southern border of Mauritania to the northern border of Angola—and the scale of economic benefits that this conservation might provide for communities and countries in the region, including benefits not always recognized in traditional assessments or valuations. This report aims to increase knowledge about blue carbon stocks in West, Central, and Southern Africa and the steps that interested communities and countries in the region could take to secure international payments for their conservation and avoided GHG emissions.

Authors: John Virdin, Tibor Vegh, Connie Y. Kot, Jesse Cleary, Patrick N. Halpin, Christopher Gordon, Marie-Christine Cormier-Salem, and Adelina Mensah

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Blue Carbon

Blue Economy

Climate and Energy

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Environmental Economics

Reports

Making Sure the Blue Economy is Green

Given the growing and seemingly limitless capacity to industrialize the oceans, there is a need to reimagine how to effectively measure, monitor and sustainably manage this seventy-one percent of the Earth's surface. In a commentary for the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the Nicholas Institute's John Virdin and co-authors write that we are now at an inflection point in history, where we no longer look to the ocean solely for protein and waterways, but also as a source for many more aspects of our increasingly industrialized society. While much of our focus has been terrestrially based where impacts are easier to identify, the authors write, greater attention is needed on the industrialization of our oceans, which have long been considered as a source of inexhaustible resources and reservoirs for unwanted terrestrially generated waste. 

Authors: Jay S. Golden, John VirdinDouglas NowacekPatrick HalpinLori Bennear, and Pawan G. Patil

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Ocean and Coastal Policy

Environmental Economics

Journal Articles

North Carolina’s Ocean Economy: A First Assessment and Transitioning to a Blue Economy

North Carolina’s ocean and coastal areas and their resources shape a unique and important segment of the state’s economy, particularly for its eastern region. From seafood and commercial fishing opportunities, to access to global markets through shipping and transport, and finally tourism and recreation, thousands of jobs and billions in revenue for the state depend on the ocean and coast. Yet to date, this segment of North Carolina’s economy has not been identified as a discrete contributor in the state. This working paper provides a first assessment of the existing information available to measure the size and extent of North Carolina’s ocean economy, and proposes next steps to transition to a blue economy.

Authors: Jane Harrison, Amy Pickle, Tibor Vegh, and John Virdin

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Blue Economy

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

State Policy

Working Papers

Coral Reefs and People in a High CO2 World: Where Can Science Make a Difference to People?

Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere put shallow, warm-water coral reef ecosystems, and the people who depend upon them at risk from two key global environmental stresses: 1) elevated sea surface temperature that can cause coral bleaching and related mortality, and 2) ocean acidification. These rising CO2 levels may affect most of the world’s coral reefs and the populations which depend on them by 2050, according to a study the journal PLOS ONE. The study projects that countries in western Oceania would be amongst the first affected by CO2-driven coral reef stress, followed by Southeast Asian countries in the Coral Triangle such as Indonesia, which are highly dependent on coral reefs. Countries predicted to be most likely to experience severe ocean acidification are generally different from those predicted to experience the earliest onset of coral bleaching, with acidification projected to be worse for countries at the upper and lower latitudinal bounds of coral reef distribution such as Baja California (Mexico), Japan, China, and southern Australia. Unfortunately, many of the countries that are most dependent upon coral reefs are also the countries for which data are least robust, and the authors note that international and regional efforts will be needed to overcome obstacles to obtaining good data globally.

Authors: Linwood Pendleton, Adrien Comte, Chris Langdon, Julia A. Ekstrom, Sarah R. Cooley, Lisa Suatoni, Michael W. Beck, Luke M. Brander, Lauretta Burke, Josh E. Cinner, Carolyn Doherty, Peter E. T. Edwards, Dwight Gledhill, Li-Qing Jiang, Ruben J. van Hooidonk, Louise Teh, George G. Waldbusser, and Jessica Ritter

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Climate and Energy

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Ecosystem Services

Journal Articles

Toward a Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016 to 2021

This comprehensive set of policy recommendations on oceans and climate for consideration at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 22nd Conference of the Parties and beyond is aimed at recognizing the central role of oceans in climate and the need to implement stringent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid disastrous consequences for coastal and island communities, marine ecosystems, and ocean chemistry. The recommendations from the International Expert Working Group on Oceans and Climate address mitigation, adaptation, displacement, financing, and capacity development.With respect to mitigation, the authors recommend implementing “blue carbon” policies, reducing carbon emissions from ships, developing ocean-based renewable energy, and considering (long-term/no-harm) ocean-based carbon capture and storage. They also encourage all nations to reduce carbon emissions so that the Paris Agreement to limit emissions to well below 2 degrees Celsius can be achieved. With respect to adaptation, the authors recommend implementing ecosystem-based adaptation strategies through integrated coastal and ocean management institutions at national, regional, and local levels to reduce the vulnerability of coastal/ocean ecosystems and human settlements and to build the management capacity, preparedness, resilience, and adaptive capacities of coastal and island communities. With respect to displacement of coastal and island populations as a result of climate change, they recommend international law changes to clarify definitions, rights, and procedures for climate-induced refugees and migrants, including development and implementation of appropriate financing measures. With respect to financing adaptation and mitigation efforts, they recommend directing a significant portion of the current climate funds to coastal and SIDS issues and developing supplementary financing to support adaptation and mitigation methods through innovative approaches and partnerships. Finally, with respect to capacity development, they recommend building up knowledge, tools, and scientific and political expertise to empower people to implement mitigation and adaptation measures, to increase adaptive management capacity, to create early warning systems, and to institute disaster risk reduction. They also recommend developing knowledge management mechanisms to share knowledge among all countries.

Authors: IBiliana Cicin-Sain, Julian Bariere, Hiroshi Terashima, Carol Turley, Rapahael Bille, Dorothee Herr, John Virdin, Meredith Kurz, Janot Mendler de Suarez, Miriam Balgos, Vinicius Lindoso, Kirsten Isensee, Tibor Vegh, Miko Maekawa, Edmund Hughes, Fredrik Haag, Edward Kleverlaan, Glen Wright, Kathy Baughman McLeod, Mike Donoghue, Warren Lee Long, Cassandra de Young, Lisa Levin, Natalya Gallo, Magdalena Muir, Tundi Agardy, Christophe Lefebvre, Doug Woodring, Philippe Vallette, Manuel Cira, Erica Wales, Ujwala Ramakrishna, Julie Steinberg, Meghan Rowe, Richard Bowers, Michael Burt, and Kateryna Wowk

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Blue Carbon

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Reports

Toward a Blue Economy: A Promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean

Toward a Blue Economy: A promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean, a World Bank report co-authored by a Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions researcher, is a guide to help Caribbean policymakers plan a successful transition to a blue economy and socially equitable blue growth. This report attempts to quantify the current ocean economy in the region and summarize projections about where we may find new pockets of sustainable growth, and define the blue economy concepts and possible policy responses that might better align economic growth and environmental health in the Caribbean. At a global level, the transition to a blue economy will significantly contribute to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 for the ocean and other goals such as poverty reduction, food security, energy security, climate change mitigation, among others.

Authors: Pawan G. Patil, John Virdin, Sylvia Michele Diez, Julian Roberts, and Asha Singh

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Blue Economy

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

Reports

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