Impacts of globalization on fisheries
Globalization can further liberalize trade in fish and fishery product with potential impact on food security in exporting countries
"Globalization", a term used abundantly since the beginning of the 1990s has progressively developed since World War Two. It is recognized through a number of trends such as growing economic integration and liberalisation; trade deregulation; convergence of macroeconomic policies; modification of the role and concept of nation state; proliferation of supranational agreements and regulatory bodies; and globalization of information systems. These trends are associated with both positive and negative impacts on human well-being, the use and conservation of the environment, equity within countries and between developing and developed countries, participation and democratic decision-making, food security, poverty alleviation and others.
Some hold very strong views that globalization has resulted in increasing inequity and poverty; reduced and diluted responsibility of capital owners to national and local communities dislocating local employment systems; and increased threats to sustainability of natural resources use where effective management measures are not being put in place. Others stress the positive effects of globalization by, e.g. removing stumbling blocks of development; accelerating necessary reforms; promoting strategic thinking; diluting the power of sectarian interests; and spreading of environmental awareness through global information systems such as Internet, etc,
While globalization is clearly not an issue specific to fisheries, there are very few aspects of fisheries and aquaculture that are not affected i.e. through, inter alia,
Globalization may have a number of positive or negative effects on the economic, social and nutritional roles and performance of the fisheries sector.
Positive impacts include:
Negative impacts include:
Globalization can improve and expand information flow on all aspects of fisheries including markets and prices
Courtesy of NOAA/NMFS/W.B.Folsom
While there are different views on the pros and cons of globalization, there is little doubt that the ongoing processes will continue and that there is a need to carefully study its impact on the fishery sector and economy at large. This is all the more necessary in order to identify appropriate policies and measures, which can help the fishery sector to successfully adjust to new global developments, derive the maximum benefit and mitigate negative effects.
FAO studies indicate that the fishery sectors of many countries in Asia and the Pacific have derived benefits and continue to benefit from globalization. These benefits include improved quality and better access of their fishery products to markets in other countries within and outside of Asia and the Pacific; increased export earnings; greater exchange of technology; increased productivity and efficiency and better supply of fish products to local populations through liberalisation of imports. Negative effects of globalization on fisheries in Asia and the Pacific were also identified in the form of increased market competition between the small-scale fisheries sector products and imported low priced fish products. The studies also identified changes in the structure of demand for fishery products, incorporation of new technologies and changes in the marketing and distribution systems as important factors of change of the fishery sector.
The effects on fisheries of globalization and modifications of the global socio-economic context are not always directly manageable from within the sector or even at national level. Several of the changes and their effects can only be addressed globally, through international co-operation, with the view to, inter alia:
All of these would have repercussions on fisheries and the evolution of key issues such as international transfer of fishing capacity, illegal fishing and flags of convenience, management of global commons, especially the marine environment and high seas fisheries, biosafety and others. More details on these areas can be found elsewhere on this CD. Many other changes brought about by globalization need adjustments in national fisheries policies in order to ensure that full advantage is being taken of these developments for economic growth, food security and poverty alleviation.
More specifically, in fisheries, potential benefits from globalization may only be realized and sustained (and potential drawbacks mitigated) if governments introduce appropriate policies and measures to:
Globalization can have positive impacts for consumers
All of the actions mentioned above are being implemented more or less actively in one way or another, but often with insufficient means and capacity. The international community is increasingly engaged in assisting countries that are lagging behind, although several action groups consider that not enough is done for those countries and communities. Much effort has been made by many countries to strengthen their fish inspection services and upgrade their production systems in order to comply with the sanitary requirements, in particular with the HACCP approach. Importing countries have given assistance to developing countries to reach and maintain compliance with required market standards but more is needed.
However, most governments are still grappling with the issue and attempting to forecast the consequence of the changes as well as the action to be taken to benefit from the positive ones while minimising and mitigating the negative ones. Between 1999 and 2000, FAO, organized workshops on the effects of globalization and deregulation on marine capture fisheries in Asia and the Pacific, and in the Caribbean. A Caribbean Fisheries Agenda on globalization (CFAG) has been formulated, identifying issues and a political strategy and plan of action that are presently implemented. FAO is also presently implementing a major umbrella-training programme on the issue for developing member countries. Assistance is provided for the implementation of the Uruguay round agreements and in the preparations for the next round of multilateral trade negotiations.
FAO is also active in a range of other areas discussed elsewhere on this CD that seek to avoid or mitigate negative impacts of globalization and to maximize the benefits countries derive from it. These include assistance towards the implementation of the various international agreements including the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the UN Fish Stocks Agreement as well as the various international plans of action (e.g. on management of fishing capacity, prevention of illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries).
There can be little doubt that the process will continue. Countries and communities will increasingly become part of global relationships and be subject to global market forces. So also the fisheries sector will continue to be effected. For those deriving a livelihood in fisheries, the issue is whether national and local governments will have the required capacity and capability of taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by such closer integration while fostering cultural identity, maintaining social balance and political control, and avoid increasing disparities in wealth and well-being. These are the challenges faced by the international community, governments and civil society and it is too early to make predictions on how well they will face up to them, but much will depend on initiatives taken by fishery dependent communities.