Global patterns of fisheries conflict: Forty years of data


International fisheries conflict can cause crises by threatening maritime security, ecosystems and livelihoods. In a highly connected world, the possibility for localized fisheries conflict to escalate into ‘systemic risks’, where risk in one domain such as food supply can increase risk in another domain such as maritime security and international relations, is growing. However, countries often choose hard-line actions rather than strategies initiating or repairing fisheries cooperation. To design, prioritize and implement more effective responses, a deeper understanding of the temporal and regional patterns of fisheries conflict is needed. Here, we present novel findings from the first global and longitudinal database of international fisheries conflict between 1974–2016. We explore the characteristics of conflict over time and develop a typology of eight distinct types of conflict. Fisheries conflict increased between 1974 and 2016, with substantial variation in both the type of conflict and the countries involved. Before 2000, fisheries conflict involved mostly North American and European countries fighting over specific species. Since then, conflict primarily involved Asian countries clashing over multiple and nonspecified species linked to illegal fishing practices. We use this empirical data to consider potential response strategies that can foster maritime security and thereby contribute to broader societal stability.


Link to centre authors: Blasiak, Robert, Österblom, Henrik
Full reference: Spijkers, J., Singh, G., Blasiak, R., Morrison, T.H., Le Billon, Österblom, H. 2019. Global patterns of fisheries conflict: Forty years of data. Global Environmental Change Volume 57, July 2019, 101921 DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.05.005