Analysing the influence of market based mechanisms on international cooperation for tuna management in the WCPO

The Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) is home to the richest tuna resources in the world. About 60% of the global tuna supply is taken from the WCPO. However tuna management in the Pacific is very challenging given the nature, structure and the complexity of interactions of multiple states and actors involved in tuna fishing. Cooperation is therefore required to effectively manage fishing activities of the highly straddling tuna species for sustainability of the stock and economy of all States, particularly the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) who rely on the resource for their economic development and wellbeing of their people.

This research will look at governance of tuna by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement’s (PNA), a sub group of countries in the WCPO, by focusing on how cooperation between participating members, countries, and industries could improve the sustainability of tuna stocks while contributing to regional economic benefit. The research is based on four questions exploring the dynamics of the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS), as an internal mechanism, and the Marine  Stewardship Council (MSC) as an external mechanisms adopted by the PNA and their effect on cooperation between member states. The findings of the PNA will then be used to explore the possibility of adopting market mechanisms at the level of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. The study will employ game theory to calculate the payoffs of cooperation in selected case studies of VDS and MSC certification and examine how the two policy instruments influence fishers’ behaviour for sustainable fishing.      

The overarching objective of this research is to investigate how cooperation in tuna management can optimally contribute to meeting conservation and management objectives by employing and engaging with market-based management mechanisms.

Research questions

  1. How have market institutions for tuna management emerged against the backdrop of regional treaties and how do they influence on-going and level of cooperation in the PNA?
  2. Can cooperation in Vessel Day Scheme contribute to sustainable tuna stock and improved benefit stream to PNA countries?
  3. Can Marine Stewardship Council contribute to sustainable fishing, and how can market for ecolabelling tuna product influence cooperation between states?
  4. How can existing incentive based approaches to fisheries management improve capacity for cooperation within the PNA, and what potential is there for employing these approaches at other regional scales?