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Exploring the future of fishery conflict through narrative scenarios

Increased human activity in our oceans and global climate change are projected to spark, or exacerbate, fishery conflict but there exist no future projections of this that take into account wider societal trends. Using a multimethod approach, this paper builds four future fishery conflict scenarios.

Matthew Osborne / Published on 12 April 2021

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Spijkers, J., Merrie, A., Wabnitz, C. C. C., Osborne, M., Mobjörk, M., et al. (2021). Exploring the future of fishery conflict through narrative scenarios. One Earth, 4(3). 386–96. DOI: 10.1016/j.oneear.2021.02.004

Recent studies suggest that the pervasive impacts on global fishery resources caused by stressors such as overfishing and climate change could dramatically increase the likelihood of fishery conflict. However, existing projections do not consider wider economic, social, or political trends when assessing the likelihood of, and influences on, future conflict trajectories.

This paper builds four future fishery conflict scenarios by considering multiple fishery conflict drivers derived from an expert workshop, a longitudinal database of international fishery conflict, secondary data on conflict driver trends, and regional expert reviews.

The scenarios take place between the years 2030 and 2060 in the North-East Atlantic (‘‘scramble for the Atlantic’’), the East China Sea (‘‘the remodeled empire’’), the coast of West Africa (‘‘oceanic decolonization’’), and the Arctic (‘‘polar renaissance’’). They explore the implications of ongoing trends in conflict-prone regions of the world and function as accessible, science-based communication tools that can help foster anticipatory governance capacity in the pursuit of future ocean security.

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