World Ocean Day: Food and Resource Economics Research on Marine Economies Promotes Ocean Sustainability

First proposed by Canada at the Earth Summit in 1992, World Ocean Day began being coordinated by the Ocean Project in 2002 as an annual international effort on June 8 to bring awareness to issues regarding the protection and restoration of ocean resources. 

Both internationally and locally here in Florida, applied research conducted by UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics faculty in collaboration with faculty from other units promotes ocean sustainability. 

“In the context of managing ocean resources, economics is not important, it is essential,” said Dr. James Anderson, professor in the UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department (FRE). When you think about it, we really don’t manage ocean resources, like fish; we manage people. That means we need to understand much more than fish ecology. We need to understand supply, demand, human behavior, price dynamics, international trade, and all of the factors influencing the entire food system.”

Faculty collaboration occurs across many departments, including Food Sciences, Forestry, Fisheries and Geomatics Sciences, Natural Resources, and more. 

“Oceans are complex systems, and any activity has repercussions through the system,” said Dr. Frank Asche, professor in the School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences at UF and an affiliate faculty member in FRE. “Hence, if one is to understand the oceans or manage them relatively well, collaboration between different disciplines is necessary. 

Here you will find just a few examples of the broad impacts of research by FRE faculty and students in the field of ocean sustainability, taken from recent research publications. 

Understanding the Global Exportation and Re-Exportation Seafood Market 

A multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Florida, American University, Duke, the University of Stavanger, BI Norwegian Business School, and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and Department of Environmental Health and Engineering recently used data from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations to analyze the import and export markets of seafood in China. Members of the group included Asche, Anderson and recent FRE Ph.D. graduate Dr. Bixuan Yang. 

Their research showed that nearly 75% of the seafood imported by China was being re-exported, suggesting that China has two seafood systems as most of the seafood consumed in China was being produced domestically. Over the past few decades, China has become the largest importer of seafood globally.  Understanding this has implications for seafood labeling, supply chain efficiency, and the seafood market’s global sustainability. 

“While it has been known for some time that the re-exports of seafood from China was increasing, the scale was still surprising,” said Asche, lead author of the paper. “It makes seafood supply chains significantly more complex, which is a challenge when there are a number of unsustainable and even illegal fishing practices out there, particularly in international waters. China does not need to be involved in these, but the more complex supply chain makes it easier to hide the origin of a fish.” 

Read the full article published in Science here. 

Fishery Management Systems

Conducted in partnership with academic colleagues across multiple disciplines, countries, institutions, and industry, FRE faculty member Dr. James Anderson and FRE affiliate faculty member Dr. Frank Asche were part of an interdisciplinary research team that looked at the application to fisheries management of the three pillars of sustainability: economic performance, social well-being and environmental sustainability. 

121 fishery systems worldwide were analyzed using the data collected using the Fishery Performance Indicator approach. This is the first paper to have a global fisheries system database with comparable observations for economic, social, and environmental outcomes. The database includes many fish species, developing and developed nations, and a broad range of fishery governance approaches. 

The key conclusion is that good infrastructure, fisheries management, strong access, and harvest rights and effective community leadership are necessary to achieve improved triple bottom line outcomes for the environment, economics, and community. Another conclusion was that if the national governance is weak and ineffective, it will undermine performance of fisheries management systems.   

“This is an important and insightful paper. For me, it was motivated by seemingly endless, and sometimes contentious, debate during my time at the World Bank and elsewhere about how we should make investments in fisheries management systems,” Anderson said. “Some argued for more infrastructure; others say there must be improved fisheries conservation – more fisheries data and enforcement; others argue for stronger fishing rights, and still others champion more investment in local leaders and community training. This research shows that if the goal is to achieve the triple bottom line, there should be investment in all of these factors.” 

Read the full article published in Fish and Fisheries here. 

Article Citations

Asche, F., Yang, B., Gephart, J.A., Smith M.D., Anderson J.L., Camp E.V., Garlock T.M., Love D.C., Oglend A., Straume H.M. (2022 Jan 28). China’s seafood imports-Not for domestic consumption? Science. ;375(6579):386-388. Epub 2022 Jan 27. PMID: 35084951. https:/

Garlock, T.Anderson, J. L.Asche, F.Smith, M. D.Camp, E.Chu, J.Lorenzen, K., & Vannuccini, S. (2022). Global insights on managing fishery systems for the three pillars of sustainabilityFish and Fisheries001– 11



Alena Poulin
Posted: June 8, 2022

Category: Coasts & Marine, Natural Resources, UF/IFAS Research
Tags: Fishery Sustainability, Food & Economics Research, Food And Resource Economics, FRE Research Highlights, Marine Economics, Ocean Sustainability, Sustainability

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