The elaboration of credible future scenarios for fisheries requires a detailed characterization of the past and present of the sector and the identification and articulation of key issues. Section 2 contains substantial material in this respect. It also requires identification of the main forces driving the probable changes with their trends and uncertainties. The fishery sector, however, represents a tiny part of the global society, and its economy and possible trajectories will be heavily conditioned by the evolution of its ecological, social and economic contexts, at local to global levels. The outlining of fisheries scenarios therefore requires a visionary representation of the possible futures of the world within which fisheries will operate. It also requires that the analyst explain clearly the type of contextual world in which his prediction fits.
(a) World scenarios
Several scenarios for the world’s future, reflecting a ‘Business as Usual’ scenario as well as ‘best cases’ and ‘worst cases’, have recently been proposed for the twenty-first century, all inspired from the work of the Global Scenarios Group (Hammond 1998
; Gallopin 2002
; UNEP 2003
) that could be used to outline the possible contexts within which future fisheries could evolve. These scenarios are displayed in and are examined further in the following sections.22
Correspondence between the various future world scenarios.
(i) Business as usual: a market world
In the ‘Business as Usual’ scenario, present trends and forces are smoothly extrapolated perhaps with levelling off rates of change. Driven by market globalization, this scenario is referred to as Market World or Conventional World. It may have two variants: (i) Reference World or Market First scenarios, totally market-driven, in which, as in the last decades, too little is done too late to reach sustainability as short-term interests dominate processes; and (ii) Policy Reform World or Policy First scenarios, triggered by public consensus and political will, in which exceptional governmental efforts lead to improved sustainability through democracy and freedom, unprecedented social and economic advances, and improved resources and environment without major changes, however, in fundamental values and dominant paradigm. The key phrases are: free and deregulated fish trade, elimination of tariffs, privatization of resources, foreign investment, export-oriented developments, private sector partnerships, industrial growth, vertical and horizontal integration, emergence of large multinational corporations, information technology and innovation.
The optimists hold that decisive action would be facilitated by reduced population growth and increased economic growth (in Policy First and Policy Reform variants). The transition to better sustainability would be facilitated by awareness of tangible effects of the looming crisis and a significant increase in implementation of the international fishery conventions, arrangements and legal instruments agreed during the past two decades. The sceptics stress that, in the poorest countries and communities lacking the preconditions to benefit from the market economy, poverty, unemployment, corruption and violence would persist or increase as would generally, the gap between poor and rich, while the disconnection between people and decision-makers would increase. In centralized economies, reforms would remain slow or incomplete, and trade barriers would persist. The low priority accorded to improved governance and human capital development would lead to depressed levels of education and health. Resilience of socio-economic and ecological systems would decrease as resources are depleted, habitats are degraded and social cohesion weakens. The risk of flaring of racial or religious conflicts increases. Eventually, this scenario leads to a global crisis.
The need to ensure economic growth, as well as the convergence between the development and environmental conservation requirements, is a formidable challenge unlikely to be met in the absence of a fundamental change in values and institutions. Under a Business as Usual scenario, continuous readjustments will be needed in the attempt to slow down resources degradation and mitigate the effects of growing inequity. However, as time elapses, the situation worsens, available solutions become scarcer, and the necessity and cost of the transition to better scenarios increase (Gallopin 2002
(ii) Worst case scenario
In the worst case scenario, characterized by failure and collapse of democratic governance, ethical standards and societal objectives, the system is maintained through a ‘feudal’ system of governance by a dictatorial minority owning ‘islands of well-being in an ocean of chaos’. Referred to as a Fortress World or Barbarization, this scenario may have two variants: (i) one leading to total chaos and anarchy (Breakdown World) and (ii) one under which chaos is partly controlled by a feudal system of governance (Fortress World or Security First).
The key phrases are: highly protected or illegal trade, rising tariffs and non-tariff barriers, inequity in resources allocation, rising illegal fishing and crime, export-oriented developments, decreased food-security for the poorest, private alliances, priority on industrial growth and integration with emergence of large multinational corporations.
This scenario would emerge from ascending market forces in a context in which governance is incapable of managing the change and mitigating its negative consequences on people and the environment. It develops out of the economic divide and conflict between individuals, communities and countries about scarcer resources depleted in a policy-deficient Market World. It threatens millions of the most vulnerable livelihoods. Civil disobedience and nihilist tendencies (IUU, destructive fishing, intolerance and radicalism) grow in young generations out of frustration about lack of opportunity and growing poverty. Unabated pollution affects productivity and seafood quality, life conditions, health and climate. Anarchy prevails but the resulting chaos may be partly controlled by feudal types of governance (that still exist!). Global economic and infrastructure development, technological progress and expenditures on social security or education are stalled, while expenses on security increase drastically. Less resilient systems collapse. Aquaculture products are essentially luxury food items contributing little to food security. The poorest regions (e.g. Africa south of the Sahara and South Asia) suffer most, hit by AIDS, climate-change-driven droughts and resulting famines. As in chaos, entropy is close to maximal; equity will prevail as most people will be equally poor. The emergence of a feudal organization would reduce entropy, materializing inequity between ‘islands’ of militarily protected well-being and ‘oceans’ of distress. This scenario may therefore be very stable and, in the absence of external interventions, may require a long phase of reorganization before a new and better pattern can emerge.
(iii) Best case scenario
In a best case scenario, possibly prompted by a global crisis,23
the human sense of ingenuity and compassion leads to a better and more equitable life for most, and all the conceptual objectives underpinning today’s ideal vision of sustainable development are achieved. Referred to as a Transformed World
or Sustainability First
scenario, it is seen as a scenario of Great Transitions
with two variants: one in which sustainability is achieved through ‘regression’ to simpler village life with low-energy consumption (Eco-communalism
) and one compatible with modern urban development and technological progress (New Sustainability)
. The Back to the Future
strategy proposed by Pitcher (1996)
and Pitcher & Pauly (1998)
would fit under this scenario.
The key phrases are: decentralization, ecosystem and human well-being, participation, collaboration, equity, communities, egalitarianism, self-sufficiency, fair trade, flexibility, adaptation, global ethics, conflict resolution and negotiation. People are environmentally conscious. Rich people modify their consumption patterns, allowing poor communities to improve food security and resources to recover. Education, leisure and spiritual pursuit are valuable incentives. Ethical codes require wise resource use. International agreements (e.g. for shared and straddling resources) resolve the resource allocation issues. Discards are banned. Critical habitats are protected. Large polluting companies agree to pay for and mitigate damage and to adopt longer-term horizons for decision-making. Energy consumption and greenhouse gases are drastically reduced. Market forces are mitigated by consensual social and environmental goals. Income tax reductions boost the economy, allowing for a renaissance, positive welfare reforms, reduced poverty, improved health, an increased role for citizen groups and religious congregations. This evolution is boosted by an information revolution and internet development, accompanied by greening of the private sector, improved corporate ethics and deeper involvement of philanthropic foundations. It allows for the emergence of alternative livelihoods to fishing for coastal communities.
Although this scenario would improve harvest quality and value, as well as the revenues and profits of those fishers remaining in business, it is likely to decrease total catches, increase prices and reduce accessibility to seafood for the poor unless total population declines rapidly, developed economies collapse, or aquaculture focuses on low value species, all rather unlikely.
(b) Driving forces
The future of fisheries will be conditioned by numerous interconnected driving forces and triggering factors affecting their ecological, economic, social and political development field, raising societal conscience about the risk for future generations in terms of poverty, mass migration, famine and epidemics. Ecological factors
include environmental degradation, resource collapses or global climate changes. Economic factors
include a long-predicted collapse of the stock market24
or a new oil price shock25
or both. Social factors
include an unacceptable gap between poor and rich, major social dislocations provoked by major industries’ relocation, emergence of instant and global awareness about inequity (e.g. through the internet), frustration leading to radicalization of ethnic and religious discourses with resulting conflicts and dislocations. The response to one set of triggering factors depends to some extent on the situation of the others and the final result depends on degree of preparadness, contingency plans, emergency assistance and effectiveness of international collaboration.
The Market World
is spreading in the developed economies of the western world and beyond through globalization of the market economy. The evolution of the fishery sector, from a Market World
to a slightly better, ideal or worst situation, will take place in broader contexts characterized by environmental, techno-economic and socio-cultural factors including institutional and ethical ones, as well as driving forces that will condition the viable options and their outcome. Consideration of possible future scenarios becomes an arbitrary exercise, simply conditioned by one’s optimism or pessimism unless the trends in the main driving forces are carefully and objectively considered. The main driving forces include global economic development patterns, population growth and the state of the environment. Other forces include public awareness, wars, information, epidemics (HIV-AIDS), energy prices and global ethics. The main ones are briefly elaborated below drawing significantly from Entz et al. (2000)
, Gallopin (2002)
; Glenn & Gordon (2002)
and UNEP (2003)
with emphasis added regarding their effects on fisheries.
Global economic development patterns affect the future of all economic sectors. The progressive globalization of the market economy has affected fisheries26
and will continue to do so (UN Atlas of the Ocean 2003).27
Present trends are towards more service-based economies, greater integration and interconnection between products, labour and financial markets, spurred by advances in information technology, alliances to remove trade barriers,28
or liberalization of investment flows and deregulation of national economies. Benefits include: improved quality and better access for local fishery products to foreign markets, increased export earnings generated by fisheries; easier technology transfer for capture and processing; increased productivity and efficiency and better supply of fish products to local populations through liberalisation of imports. A wealthier middle-class is growing in the developing world, as wealth gets concentrated in fewer hands, increasing inequalities across and within nations. Potential negative effects include: exacerbated excess fishing capacity; increased environmental and resource damage; increased competition, on local markets, between the produce of the small-scale fisheries sector and imported low-priced products and appropriation of local resources by large foreign corporations. Major changes in the structure of demand and in the marketing and distribution systems will also have positive and negative impacts. Resistance to change may result in the development of non-tariff barriers, for example, in the form of sanitary regulations and environmental protection measures.
Transnational enterprises moving on global opportunities challenge governments’ traditional prerogatives and reduce their capacity for macro-economic interventions. In a fishery Market World
, these effects will be exacerbated, advantaging large transnational fishing industries over small-scale fisheries, lowering the priority of social (equity) and environmental concerns, reducing the resources available to implement the related inter-governmental agreements, facilitating the growth of IUU fishing as an underground economy, weakening the protection of endangered species and increasing the inequality in the access to fish (UNEP 2003
Population growth and urbanization will shape fisheries through, for instance, demand for food and pollution. The world population has grown above six billion and is still growing at a rate below 1% per year in Europe, between 1% and 2% in America and East Asia and between 2% and 3% in Africa and South Asia. It increased by 1.6 billion during the past two decades and is expected to gain one billion by 2015,29
reaching approximately nine billion by 2030 and 2050 and a maximum of 10 billion by 2100 (Lutz et al. 2002
; FAO 2002
). The majority of the growth will be in the developing world, although the impact of HIV-AIDS leads to some uncertainty, particularly in Africa. Population drifts towards coastal mega-cities (UNEP 2003
) will continue to increase demand for fish and sea-related livelihoods, providing further incentives for large-scale delivery systems able to cope with massive daily demands, as well as for peri-urban aquaculture. The pattern could be exacerbated by climate-change-driven droughts, triggering massive migrations from agriculture to fisheries, or armed conflicts.
The state of the environment, conserved, enhanced or degraded as it may be by fisheries and other marine and land-based activities, will strongly condition fishery resources abundance, resilience and quality. The assessment of the present situation and future forecast differ greatly between the pessimists (e.g. Brown & Kane 1994
) and the optimists (e.g. Lomborg 2001
) and the environment crystal ball is even more enigmatic than in fisheries. The Global Environment Outlook (GEO3) elaborated by UNEP (2003)
stresses that past forecasts had rightly foreseen the reduction of tariff barriers, the important role of technical innovation and the emergence of a worldwide environmental movement, but failed to foresee important risks such as acidification of the atmosphere, ozone depletion and climate change. Its 2002–2032 forecasts underlined the strategic importance of future environmental governance, stressing the deficiencies and possible negative outcomes of the radical Market World and
the advantages of the strong balancing role of governments and people (Policy Reform
). Rhetorical commitments towards sustainability have been made at the highest level in a number of political summits such as UNCED, WSSD and in the United Nations Millennium Goals for 2015 (see www.un.org/millenniumgoals). Expert opinion analysis (Glenn & Gordon 2002
) indicates that the end of water pollution, effective oversight, conservation of biodiversity, improved education and better science (all essential for fisheries) are among the ten objectives considered most important, acceptable and achievable in the next 50 years. It also indicates, however, that hunger, pollution, environmental impact and organized crime will nonetheless not be ended, pointing to failure of the Market World
and the persistence and strengthening of elements of a Fortress World
in half a century.
In fisheries, the perceptions have progressively shifted during the past three decades following the worsening of the state of the resources, the intrusion of the environmental NGOs in the governmental debates and the development of environmental advocacy. In the 1970s, pollution was considered as a more serious, perhaps more subtle but certainly more long-lasting threat for oceans and fisheries than fisheries themselves (Stevenson 1973
; Hennemuth 1979
More recently, and in most cases without any comprehensive comparative analysis, fisheries have been accused of being the main factor of degradation of the marine ecosystems (Jackson et al. 2001
). The reality is that, during the past 30 years, there has been very little progress in the global understanding of the impact of environmental degradation on fisheries. However, numerous recent papers have underlined the impact of coastal development, fertilizers (nitrates), pesticides, hormones, freshwater flow modification and climate change on aquatic life, its survival, its biodiversity, reproduction and market value (WRI 2002b
). For inland waters, few experts would disagree with the conclusion that fishing effort is not, in most cases, the main factor impacting the resource. Coastal fishery ecosystems are indeed evolving on a parallel track as the coastal environment is impacted by growing economic activities and artificialization. On a different note, in the medium-term, and no matter how well the environment is conserved, the future of fisheries depends on natural climatic variations on a circa-decadal scale (Klyashtorin 2001
; Bakun & Broad 2001
) influence of the environmentalist movement on fisheries governance and operational environment has already been substantial, following a general increase in public awareness. It has already led, inter alia
, to the adoption of the precautionary approach (FAO 1996
), the ecosystem approach, the initiation of more elaborated norms for endangered species impacted by fisheries, an increasing support for marine-protected areas as well as a movement to reduce land-based sources of pollution, e.g. through the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. Line ministries in charge of the environment are being established in most countries and fisheries are increasingly forced to assess their environmental impact. In several countries, fisheries are already under a Ministry of the Environment and considering the small size of the fisheries sector in most countries and hence its relatively lower electoral power, this strategy might spread further in the future.
Other driving forces will affect the future of fisheries. Growing public awareness of environmental issues may foster political will and induce a change in consumer habits, and producers’ attitudes (through ecolobelling). Civil and international wars are not conducive to fisheries stewardship and may accidentally reduce fishing effort and/or provoke massive migrations into small-scale fisheries, increasing fishery tensions, depleting resources, favouring corruption, illegal fishing and destructive methods (explosives) and facilitate a shift to a Fortress World
. Information technology and public information can foster education, decision-making, fairer trade, and ultimately impact wealth distribution, transparency and equity. Computers, global databases and knowledge sharing systems, cell phones, global positioning systems and VMS are changing dramatically the capacity to assess, advise, monitor and control fisheries. The increasing rich–poor gap and drop of per capita
income of the poorest (Glenn & Gordon 2002
) may also push more excluded people towards an activity of last resort in fisheries, the last open frontier. HIV-AIDS is more acute in migrating populations and in activities involving long absences from home. Fishermen are particularly prone to infection (ICLARM 2002
; Ainsworth & Semai 2000
) and the impact on fishing livelihoods, particularly in Africa, may not yet be fully appreciated. Energy prices directly affect fishing operations. As prices of fossil fuels are likely to rise sharply in the next two decades, alternative sources (e.g. hydrogen) are not yet in sight (Rifkin 2002
) and subsidies are being phased out, the cost of fishing will rise, raising fish price, reducing demand and accessibility to the poorest, favouring small-scale and static fishing equipment fisheries. Ethical issues are emerging in most areas of development in relation to the use and management of global commons or global public goods and are only being addressed for fisheries (FAO 2005
). The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries is, in many ways, a global code of ethics addressing numerous but rarely explicit ethical issues.
(c) Fisheries scenarios
In § 2, trends, past forecasts and present state and some specific elements of the fishery system (potential, state of resources, technology, governance, etc.) were reviewed. However, this reductionist view does not easily lead to an overall outlook as the various components of the fishery system interact in a complex way. This section reviews briefly a number of comprehensive forecasts, either as a single scenario considered as the most probable or a set of possible ones. Except for Kearney et al. (2002)
, these scenarios were necessarily based more on their authors’ perceptions than on hard calculations. They have generally been proposed without detailed consideration of the driving forces conditioning them or any measure of their likelihood.
Without specifying the reference time horizon, Daan (1989)
speculated about the future of the North Sea. Having identified the main current problems, he described three possible options for the future.
- Doing nothing—leading to a greater decrease in biomass, fishing (mainly industrial) on small species and juveniles of large ones (mainly for fishmeal), disappearance of many species, particularly cetaceans, increased eutrophication, anoxia and mass mortality of bottom animals, epidemics, and proliferation of marine birds.
- Doing the impossible—eliminating fishing vessels and oil platforms, fishing and pollution. Daan doubts that in most cases ecosystems could recover to their original (and unknown) form and reckons that conflicts would be unmanageable. As shown by the name he gave to the option, he considers it rather unrealistic.
- Doing one’s best—recognizing and reconciling multiple uses and the intrinsic value of the North Sea, limiting land-based pollution and dumping, reducing oil spills, establishing area-based use rights (for fishing, oil drilling, shipping, etc.), reducing conflict through geographical segregation, natural reserves, effective effort control (as opposed to catch quotas) and implementation of the precautionary approach, recognizing that multi-species manipulations are beyond our understanding and capacity.
In addition, Daan considers the potential impact of global warming. According to him, this less and less unexpected event would raise seawater levels, displacing people back to higher lands and freeing coastal nurseries. He reckons that this will not affect the North Sea future much beyond some species composition changes and increased anoxia problems.
, presenting it as a facetious exercise, ventured into predicting four caricature scenarios for the North Sea (summarized in Appendix B
) which, with minor modifications, could be examined as possible scenarios for all or many of the world’s fisheries. The paper highlights the interactions between the overall economic situation and the global climate change with national objectives for fisheries, ranging from maximizing recreation in a rich societal environment to ensuring basic food—probably contaminated—to a poor population lacking alternatives. The scenarios correspond to different sets of societal objectives for alternative use strategies optimizing respectively: (i) recreation; (ii) foreign exchange earnings; (iii) aquaculture production; and (iv) food for the poor and dumping (a strange combination indeed!). Although they were apparently not intended to be taken seriously, they indicate:
Kearney et al. (2002)
- The need to decide on and ensure a spectrum of fish sizes and species, which suits the objectives. This, in turn, underlines the need to manipulate the ecosystem (enhance, stock, cull, etc., as appropriate), even in the green scenario based on high species diversity for recreation.
- The considerable role of aquaculture as a co-factor, possibly becoming a driving force.
- The need to better understand the ecosystem and predict recruitment in order to optimize the uses.
modelled the future of 200 Australian fisheries to 2050, incorporating their yields into a broader mathematical model, including population growth, energy available, total resource use and environmental quality. They suggested future supply and demand scenarios testing predictions against known trends for three scenarios (optimum, status quo and caution). They concluded that, for all scenarios, fisheries production would continue to decline for at least a decade, stabilizing below the levels observed in the 1990s, leading to questioning present management strategies, advocating a more holistic management of fisheries sub-sectors (including recreational fisheries) and including broader ecosystem impacts such as pollution, habitat degradation, etc., resulting from fisheries as well as other uses of aquatic resources.
presents a not-too-optimistic view of potential development to 2010. He reckons that demand will increase globally and that rising fish prices will continue to provide incentives to fishers to increase pressure globally. He predicts that overfishing and increased capture of juveniles will follow, encouraged by the incentives provided by buyers and importers. Contrary to the standard assumption in the supply–demand simulations referred to above, he believes that aquaculture, affected by pollution, diseases, shortage of feeds and water supplies will not be able to fill the gap. He foresees, however, a reinforcement of environmental protection regulations, better science, implementation of closed seasons, development of compensatory schemes for displaced fishers, desperate cost-cutting measures as opposed to revenue-increasing ones, and better use (less waste) aiming at a priority of human consumption. He forecasts the demise of many fisheries and failure of aquaculture to compensate for the disaster despite a reinforcement of governance and institutions in a twenty-first century characterized by population growth, rising demand for food and environmental degradation.
Amaratunga & Lassen (1998)
are as optimistic as Beckett (1998)
and on the premises that supplies are uncertain and significant new resources are unlikely to be found, concluded that, in the future:
Cury & Cayré (2001)
- demand will increase most for high-value products and species;
- prices will be boosted up, perhaps reducing/stabilizing demand in importing countries;
- by 2010, the fish supply deficit will reach 10–40 mt above what the marine fisheries can provide and the role of aquaculture will significantly increase;
- technological innovations in processing and use will improve efficiency of use as well as control of fishing operations through more systematic use of integrated VMS;
- world fish trade will further globalize;
- diversification of processing will make vertical integration difficult;
- the CBD will play a greater role;
- the UN will revisit the governance of the seabed use;
- marine reserves will play a greater role in fisheries management;
- new effective and selective fishing equipment will be invented;
- the use of energy saving devices will be generalized;31
- some types of trawl (e.g. beam trawl) might be banned;
- fishing operations will be more informed and more controlled, reducing unnecessary risks (e.g. to endangered species) and discards;
- the past two decades’ trend towards high specialization will give way to a trend towards diversification;
- the new management paradigm will account for the need to maintain communities’ livelihoods;
- co-management and transparency will spread;
- fishing rights will spread and may concentrate, leading to concentration of the industry;
- reduced fishing will improve the state of the ecosystems;
- research will be reoriented towards policy and operational research;
- more research will be in the hands of industry itself;
- technological progress (satellites, autonomous samplers; underwater technology, satellite positioning, electronic tagging telemetry) will improve the level of information available.
, in a fictitious retrospective description of the evolution of fisheries, supposedly written in 2051, indicate that marine capture fisheries disappeared, as a professional activity, c. 2020. Drawing a parallel with the end of hunting, they indicate that fishing disappeared, under societal pressure from young generations of stakeholders, discredited by conflicts, overexploitation, overcapitalization, demographic pressure, non-precautionary management and development, lack of stewardship, inappropriate institutions and climate change. These pressures and driving forces led to irreversible depletion of most resources. Technological innovations outpaced scientific capacity to predict and institutional capacity to adapt. Science was wasted in conflicts with NGOs and conservation agencies. Long- and short-term objectives could not be reconciled. Fishing rights and eco-labelling failed to provide the proper incentives. Fish prices increased dramatically, turning high-value species into luxury items for developed countries’ wealthy consumers, leaving only small pelagic and other prey species to the less endowed. They conclude that this was not planned. It just happened.
mentions specifically fisheries in a worst case scenario for the twnty-first century characterized by significant environmental distress. ‘One by one, major marine fisheries collapsed, victims of sustained overfishing by huge trawler fleets eager to supply the international fish market. Fish, produced almost entirely by aquaculture now, is a luxury food. Fishermen lost their jobs but more devastating was the loss of the primary source of proteins for three quarters of a billion people… As conditions became desperate, the voices of the disenfranchised became louder. In India a protest march by a group of fishermen became an army of more than 2 million people that converged on New Delhi’.
A large number of more or less explicit scenarios of the future can also be found in the press and these are usually catastrophic, in which overfishing is usually seen as spreading, sending world populations in a ‘downward spiral’ and millions of people out of work, uselessly waiting for decades for an improbable recovery while the UN promotes non-enforceable treaties and the world ecosystems collapse into anoxic ‘dead zones’ full of dead coral, jellyfish, blue algae and bacteria (Guterl 2003
All the above scenarios fit into the typology of future worlds scenarios described above.