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International fisheries are being overexploited, and the current institutional structure in place to manage them is not working effectively. Presently, two sets of intergovernmental institutions oversee global fishing. The first comprises roughly three dozen regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), approximately 19 of which are charged with regulating fishing in the areas they oversee. The second set consists of global organizations that touch on but do not directly regulate fisheries issues, such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This management patchwork is inadequate to the task, and needs to be supplemented by a new global fisheries organization. Such an organization would most usefully serve three core functions: Coordinating the various existing institutional participants in international fisheries governance; Addressing the crisis of overcapitalization and overcapacity in the fishing industry driven by widespread government subsidies; Overseeing a system of international individual transferable quotas (ITQs).

This policy brief outlines the nature of the problem and discusses these three functions in greater depth.


Governance and Sustainability Issue Brief Series, Brief 8.



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