Jurisdictional approach for sustainable seafood

Seafood on iceASU School of Sustainability Research Professor Jack Kittinger led a recently published paper titled “Applying a jurisdictional approach to support sustainable seafood” in Conservation Science and Practice. Other co-authors include School of Life Sciences graduate students from the Conservation Innovation Lab, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director Leah Gerber and affiliated faculty. This publication is the result of the ASU-Conservation International partnership.
Ensuring the security of ocean ecosystems that provide food and livelihood benefits from seafood systems requires significant investment in improving the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture production at scale. Seafood certification and ratings systems have established strong benchmarks for sustainability, but markets need to incentivize sustainability throughout the value chain and at relevant ecological scales in order to generate meaningful conservation impacts and support lasting on-the-water stewardship efforts. Here, we propose that market-based approaches and ecosystem-based governance initiatives can be integrated to improve the sustainability of seafood production systems using a jurisdictional approach. Jurisdictional approaches are place-based initiatives deployed in key commodity producing regions to drive sustainability through aligned incentives among government, market, and producer actors. To explore the applicability of this approach in seafood, we first identify key mismatches in existing certification and ratings schemes that stymie the effectiveness of market-based approaches to drive ecosystem-scale impacts. Subsequently we identify the differentiated incentives for sustainability among producers, supply chain companies, and governments—drawing evidence from research and practice. Based on this analysis, we review the potential for jurisdictional approaches to align actors' incentives for sustainability at the scale of entire production geographies, bringing market-based approaches and governance improvements together to achieve conservation outcomes.