Conflict over marine fishery resources is a growing security concern. Experts expect that global changes in our climate, food systems and oceans may spark or exacerbate resource conflicts. An initial scan of 803 relevant papers and subsequent intensive review of 31 fisheries conflict studies, focused on subnational and international conflicts, suggests that four substantial scientific gaps need addressing to improve our understanding of the nature and drivers of fisheries conflict.
First, fisheries conflict and levels of conflict intensity are not precisely defined. Second, complex adaptive systems thinking is underutilized but has the potential to produce more realistic causal models of fishery conflict. Third, comparative large‐scale data and suitably integrative methodologies are lacking, underscoring the need for a standardized and comparable database of fisheries conflict cases to aid extrapolation beyond single case‐studies. Fourth, there is room for a more widespread application of higher order concepts and associated terminology.
Importantly, the four gaps highlight the homogenized nature of current methodological and theoretical approaches to understanding fishery conflict, which potentially presents us with an oversimplified understanding of these conflicts. A more nuanced understanding of the complex and dynamic nature of fishery conflict and its causes is not only scientifically critical, but increasingly relevant for policymakers and practitioners in this turbulent world.
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