Drivers of conflict and resilience in shifting transboundary fisheries

Publication Name

Marine Policy


Climate change is causing fish stocks to shift, upending the social-ecological systems that rely on the historic distributions of these stocks and creating or exacerbating fisheries conflicts. The movements of internationally shared stocks between Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) or between EEZs and the high seas are especially concerning because they bring into play a variety of geopolitical factors and equity issues surrounding missing or conflicting regulations of jurisdictional boundary zones. Though many studies have explored the responses to and repercussions of shifting stocks on fisheries management, there is a dearth of interdisciplinary case studies that provide insight into the complexity of conflict formation in shifting transboundary fisheries, and that highlight the initial response stages where inclusion of proactive and cooperative measures can greatly improve a system's resilience to conflict. Our study helps to fill this gap by drawing on the knowledge of a diverse group of experts to analyze four case studies where transboundary stock shifts, geopolitical or governance tensions, and uncertainty regarding the future of the marine environment collide. Through synthesis of case study findings, we create a causal model of fishery conflict, within which we highlight factors that may heighten or mitigate the risk of conflict over shifting resources such as complex histories of power imbalance, unequal access to resources, or a lack of consistent and transparent data collection. Cooperation and equitable decision-making processes are recognized as vital components of internationally shared stock management which can promote lasting, effective, and conflict-resilient fisheries.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Sponsor

Norges Forskningsråd



Link to publisher version (DOI)