Professor Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, is part of a research team led by Stanford University, that published its perspective piece, “Opportunity for Marine Fisheries Reform in China,” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
As global fish stocks continue to decline, this study found that China’s most recent fisheries conservation plan can achieve a real shift in marine fisheries management, but only if the Chinese government embraces major institutional reform.
The researchers examined the history of Chinese government priorities, policies and outcomes related to marine fisheries since the country’s 1978 Economic Reform and examined how its leaders’ agenda for “ecological civilization” could successfully transform marine resource management in the coming years.
They found that while China has attempted to reverse the trend of declining fish stocks in the past, serious institutional reforms are needed to achieve a true shift in marine fisheries management. The authors recommend new institutions for science-based fisheries management, secure fishing access, policy consistency across provinces, educational programs for fisheries managers, and increasing public access to scientific data.
As China accounts for almost one-fifth of global catch volume, it has made great efforts to carry out conservation and management of fisheries resources by adopting and practicing various measures during the last three decades. The government is introducing a series of new programs for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, with greater traceability and accountability in marine resource management and area controls on coastal development. The most recent plan notably includes marine ecosystem protection as a significant component of the central government’s environmental agenda.
Although the researchers view China’s efforts as a signal of dedication toward furthering fisheries conservation, they hope their paper helps highlight the need for true institutional reform in order to see the Chinese government’s goals realized.