A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
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Tuna Resource Management: An Example of Building Effective Global Governance

November 28, 2016

Fishing is often used as an example to illustrate the issues surrounding the collective management of shared resources. We can even paraphrase the ecologist Garett Hardin, speaking of the “tragedy of the commons” when discussing the difficulty in coinciding individual interests and collective interests through management policies aimed at avoiding the depletion of a resource. Numerous academic and practical debates are devoted to the management of common resources, on the one hand there are those who advocate their privatization as the only means to contain their depletion, and on the other hand those who, together with the economist Elinor Ostrom, try to understand the fundamentals of the successful management of shared resources.

In contrast to the often defeatist views on fisheries, the management of tuna fisheries is an interesting example of building a global governance for a natural resource. As different tuna species were over-fished, which undermined the evolution of the resource; the implementation of appropriate management measures (minimum sizes, minimum weight and above all maximum fishing quotas) really has improved the situation for bluefin tuna in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean over the past few years. Enforcing reductions in fishing quotas has not been easy, but the results are pivotal. The stock replenishment plan initiated in 2006 and reinforced in 2010 has been successful and the scientific estimates of tuna populations are five-fold since the 2000s1.

While overfishing and illegal fishing remain major challenges, the adoption of sustainable and tangible management programs, regulatory measures and recommendations, the implementation of ad hoc monitoring, control, monitoring and enforcement structures, remain necessary to support the sustainable management and conservation of fishery resources. It is also noted that the control of international trade could be a possible lever for checking the implementation of the recommendations in each country.

Such global governance was certainly not built in a day. For the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has been operational for 50 years and has 51 contracting parties, including the United States, Japan and the European Union. At ICCAT’s 20th special meeting in Vilamoura, Portugal, on 22nd November, the contractors emphasized the importance of co-management and the preservation of fishery resources. For example, “19 new recommendations and five resolutions were approved, covering a number of important issues relating to the stocks of bluefin tuna, albacore tuna, and bigeye tuna, as well as swordfish, sharks and sailfish. For some of these species, this was the first time that ICCAT implemented catch quotas for Mediterranean swordfish and blue Atlantic shark2.

By integrating scientific advice on biological resources, the economic and social interests of actors, the governance and control of legal management tools, ICCAT is an exemplary initiative attesting to the ability to build global governance when political will is structured and seeks to become an institution. Experience has shown that, unfortunately, crisis situations need to be arrived at before the necessary collaboration can be considered. The same goes for the governance of agricultural markets, the stability of which could be comparable to the notion of the shared resource or public good: no individual has a stake in contributing to stability but everyone benefits from it. Liberal dogma has long wanted us to believe that the free battle of supply and demand would spontaneously stabilize markets. We know that this is not so, because there are so many sources for instability in agricultural markets. So here again, it will be through better coordination of national policies that the stabilization of international agricultural markets will be developed in a renewed global governance.

1 http://www.comite-peches.fr/wp-content/uploads/SCRS2014.pdf
2 http://www.iccat.org/Documents/Commission/Press_release_2016_FRA_final.pdf

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Paris, 23 March 2017