Conflict Over Open-Access Resources

by dcarroll on December 5, 2016 - 9:40am

National Geographic addresses multiple issues in One of the World’s Biggest Fisheries is on the Verge of Collapse. The two biggest being natural resource governance, and conflict over open-access resources. The environmental issue at hand being fisheries over-extracting fish stock in the South China Sea, where 10 countries and territories surrounding the South China Sea extract stock in order to support their economies, as well as their need for fish to support the hunger of many. The social issue at hand is the conflict over these populations of fish, being the conflict over open-access resources, and to whom these stocks belong to. The most significant aspect of this social conflict is where the conflict itself derives from, which is China’s assertiveness in regard to whom the majority of the fish stock belongs to. The purpose of this article is to expose the Chinese for their lack of acknowledgement in regard to overfishing, and ultimately seeking their own benefit instead of considering the ecological stability of the South China Sea. The article goes on to discuss how China has aggressively deemed the South China Sea to be their territory, and ultimately their natural resource stock to govern, which is not the case as it is supposed to be accessible to 9 other countries. China has threatened and engaged in direct conflict with Filipino and Vietnamese fishing vessels, when these foreign vessels have attempted to fish in China’s ‘territory’. This conflict has led to Filipino and Vietnamese fishermen to look elsewhere for fishing opportunities, meanwhile Chinese fishermen continue to overfish and deplete the stock even further. It is said that in some regions, Chinese vessels have depleted stock 90%, leaving the biodiversity of the South China Sea in great jeopardy.

 

            I was surprised to see this article for the first time, due to the severity of the issue and the lack of media coverage that this issue has received. China is a large country, with a massive economy and large political influence in regard to international cooperation in many different areas of concern. This to me is not a “bullying” issue, it is an issue of mismanagement of open-access natural resources, that China is manipulating. In regard to course content, this is an issue of administrative rationalism, whereby ecological problems can be fixed by society and by administrative institutions such as the Environmental Protection Agency. The issue of over-extracting resources and bullying smaller countries by engaging in conflict is much more than a problem for the countries involved, it is problem that effects our whole planet. Biodiversity is being jeopardized on a regular basis, and agencies that have the attention of the international community need to engage these countries directly in order to address the areas of concern. This is a prime example of Command and Control, where China is completely ignoring the law in regard to fisheries and extraction caps, solely to benefit themselves economically. I think National Geographic did a great job at addressing the issues at hand, as they voice the concerns and opinions of the ‘little guys’ in this situation, being Vietnamese and Filipino fishermen, who may not have had a dog in the fight otherwise.

Comments

Hi! Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention! While I had heard about China's overfishing (through the excellent documentary End of the Line), I didn't know anything about the specific case of the South China Sea, so I am very glad that you brought this to my attention! That said, I'm a bit curious about a few of the things you mentioned in your article. First, what are the ten countries that border the South China Sea? A cursory google search only revealed a few, so I am curious about who exactly you are discussing in your article. I am also curious about your categorization of fisheries as open access resources. Does China (or any of the other 10 nations) have meaningful restrictions on the fishery? Are there quotas that are being ignored or any other attempt to control it?

I was also wondering if the story really was all about fish. The same cursory google search suggested that the bottom of the South China Sea is full of oil deposits. Therefore, it occurs to me that while China is currently claiming the territory in order to access the fish, its long term goals are more concerned with energy. What do you think of this? Would it change your interpretation of the article in any way?

Hi! Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention! While I had heard about China's overfishing (through the excellent documentary End of the Line), I didn't know anything about the specific case of the South China Sea, so I am very glad that you brought this to my attention! That said, I'm a bit curious about a few of the things you mentioned in your article. First, what are the ten countries that border the South China Sea? A cursory google search only revealed a few, so I am curious about who exactly you are discussing in your article. I am also curious about your categorization of fisheries as open access resources. Does China (or any of the other 10 nations) have meaningful restrictions on the fishery? Are there quotas that are being ignored or any other attempt to control it?

I was also wondering if the story really was all about fish. The same cursory google search suggested that the bottom of the South China Sea is full of oil deposits. Therefore, it occurs to me that while China is currently claiming the territory in order to access the fish, its long term goals are more concerned with energy. What do you think of this? Would it change your interpretation of the article in any way?