In fisheries economic analyses, the institutional setting in which a fishery operates is important. The performance of a fishery depends on whether the fishery is managed effectively or not; is the fishery effectively regulated or not regulated at all, is illegal fishing and unreporting of catch a problem, or is fish regulated only on paper without real enforcement—in other words, is the fishery operated under open access or catch shares with strictly enforced total allowable catches? Incorporating the institutional setting is important when one is studying a specific fishery because it can affect how fishing fleets respond to changes in fish stocks and thus how seafood is supplied to the market.

Here, we are analyzing performance at the national level, and there is evidence to show that, while some countries perform better at managing their fisheries than others, the overall performance of virtually all countries is not that good (23, 24). To provide an aspirational benchmark, we assumed a positive, even if not realistic, future in which all fisheries are managed and used at their MCP. In making this assumption, we are well aware that achieving MSY (maximum sustainable yield) conditions for all fisheries (or even all fisheries in one country) is certainly a big challenge. In practice, managers should be more cautious of using MSY as a target and instead operate with reference points and targets that reflect national or regional fisheries management objectives and capacities.

Developing an analysis that captures a “realistic” scenario of particular fisheries would become highly complicated, as decisions would need to be made regarding the expected deviation from MSY for each fishery or each country. While this can be done, the purpose of this paper is not to develop scenarios of cross-national fisheries management but to evaluate the expected impacts of mitigating climate change, ceteris paribus, on fish stocks. Hence, we chose MSY as the aspirational baseline reference given that it is widely recognized in the marine governance and scientific community (for example, its presence as a goal in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). We do, however, acknowledge that fisheries management is crucial to the achievement of potential benefits under any climate scenario and that, since actual fisheries management performance is typically far from ideal, actual realized gains are likely to be less than we estimate in this contribution.

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