International trade important to consider for sustainability of Baltic fisheries

Seas Of Novelty: A plethora of national and EU regulations and legislation exist to sustainably manage the fisheries in the countries wrapped around the Baltic Sea. But with increasing dependence on international trade of fisheries products, the region’s current strategy of stabilising its fisheries may in fact jeopardize resilience to change, a recent collaboration between the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Kiel University has found.
The study, which was published in Fish and Fisheries and led by centre researcher Yosr Ammar with colleagues Susa Niiranen and Thorsten Blenckner as well as Rudi Voss from Kiel University, uses the concept of “socio-economic novelty” to look at changes to the region over the last 40 years, finding that stabilisation has decreased fisheries’ ability to adapt to environmental changes and market variation.
A better understanding: Never-seen-before socio-economic conditions are not implicitly good or bad. They might be sustainable, for example, if they emerge from improved fishing methods through the use of more selective fishing gear. On the other hand, they can also be unsustainable when they result from overfishing or loss of fishing-related cultural services. In the study, Ammar and her colleagues developed a method to quantify socio-economic novelty in the Baltic Sea. This, they say, can give us a better understanding of the complexity of a social-ecological system and help us understand what actions are needed at different governance levels to reach a sustainable future. More EU engagement needed: The authors found that measures intended to stabilize Baltic fisheries (for example, to increase plannability), may reduce their ability to adapt to economic uncertainty and the impacts of climate change. At the same time, fisheries are embedded in complex marine social-ecological systems. Humans and ecosystems are increasingly interconnected across distant borders through trade. In the case of the Baltic fisheries, there is increasing dependence on the import of fisheries products.


The full article can be found at

Ammar, Y. et al.: Quantifying socio-economic novelty in fisheries social-ecological systems. Fish and Fisheries (2021). DOI: 10.1111/faf.12626. Link