Initial situation and research questions

Marine fish stocks are a classic example of a natural common good and therefore a good case for studying the challenges of sustainable management. The fishing industry in Europe, including that in the German Baltic, has failed the societal goal of sustainability. Hence, there is an urgent need for action to:

  • rebuild fish stocks (back) to a sustainable level
  • limit the effects of fishing on the marine environment
  • supply consumers in Germany and worldwide with fish caught in a sustainable way
  • create long-term income sources for fishermen, especially in coastal regions where there are not many economic alternatives

To meet these goals, there is a need for innovative approaches that can be used by different actors for a more sustainable use of marine fish stocks.

KoBeFisch has the hypothesis that European fisheries policies has not been able to prevent overfishing due to its current responsibility structures. In the current EU fisheries management, it is governmental actors that have the responsibility. For example, the council of ministries determines many regulations, including the catch quotas. At the same time, fishermen and fish consumers have almost no opportunity to influence the catch quotas in order to shift to more sustainable fishing.

In KoBeFisch, alternatives are researched and developed on how governmental and non-governmental actors could share more responsibility for sustainability. Traditional coastal fishermen are considered alongside fish consumers as a point of special interest in the analysis.

KoBeFisch researches the following (interdependent) questions:

  • Which opportunities and barriers are there for consumers to use fish in a more sustainable way?
  • Which opportunities and barriers do single fishermen or cooperatives have to contribute to a sustainable management of marine resources?
  • Which opportunities and barriers do  political and governmental actors (on European, national and regional level) have to foster a more sustainable use of marine resources?
  • What feedback loops are there between the actions of consumers, fishermen and governmental actors  on varying spatial and temporal scales?

Project goals and results to be expected

With regards to these questions, the KoBeFisch team will try to reach goals on three levels:

  • Scientific knowledge production: We aim to gain fundamental insights that are potentially applicable to be transferred to other issues of a sustainable fishing industry.
  • Political options for actions on the European, national and regional levels: We aim to evaluate measures with regards to environmental consequences and their short- and long-term distributional effects. On the basis of this analysis, concrete recommendations for improvements shall be derived. Especially proposals for setting new political and institutional frameworks will be developed. These frameworks should enable private actors, such as fish consumers, to take more responsibility for the sustainable use of fish stocks.
  • Microeconomic recommendations: We aim to gain scientific knowledge that enables fishing cooperatives and fish marketing to cover the demand for sustainable fish in Germany.
Nov 2014 to Mar 2018

Prof. Dr. Martin Quaas, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre