Ocean Equity Research

Resource allocation in transboundary tuna fisheries: A global analysis

Publication Details

K. Seto, G. Galland, A. McDonald, A. Abolhassani, K. Azmi, H. Sinan, T. Timmiss, M. Bailey, Q, Hanich, Resource Allocation in Transboundary Tuna Fisheries: A Global Analysis, Ambio, (2020)


Resource allocation is a fundamental and challenging component of common pool resource governance, particularly transboundary fisheries. We highlight the growing importance of allocation in fisheries governance, comparing approaches of the five tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (tRFMOs). We find all tRFMOs except one have defined resources for allocation and outlined principles to guide allocation based on equity, citizenship, and legitimacy. However, all fall short of applying these principles in assigning fish resources. Most tRFMOs rely on historical catch or effort, while equity principles rarely determine dedicated rights. Further, the current system of annual negotiations reduces certainty, trust, and transparency, counteracting many benefits asserted by rights-based management proponents. We suggest one means of gaining traction may be to shift conversations from allocative rights toward weighting of principles already identified by most tRFMOs. Incorporating principles into resource allocation remains a major opportunity, with important implications for current and future access to fish.

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