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  1. The deep sea (below 200 m depth) is the largest carbon sink on Earth. It hosts abundant biodiversity that underpins the carbon cycle and provides provisioning, supporting, regulating and cultural ecosystem services. There is growing attention to climate-regulating ocean ecosystem services from the scientific, business and political sectors. In this essay we synthesize the unique biophysical, socioeconomic and governance characteristics of the deep sea to critically assess opportunities for deep-sea blue carbon to mitigate climate change. Deep-sea blue carbon consists of carbon fluxes and storage including carbon transferred from the atmosphere by the inorganic and organic carbon pumps to deep water, carbon sequestered in the skeletons and bodies of deep-sea organisms, carbon buried within sediments or captured in carbonate rock. However, mitigating climate change through deep-sea blue carbon enhancement suffers from lack of scientific knowledge and verification, technological limitations, potential environmental impacts, a lack of cooperation and collaboration, and underdeveloped governance. Together, these issues suggest that deep-sea climate change mitigation is limited. Thus, we suggest that a strong focus on blue carbon is too limited a framework for managing the deep sea to contribute to international goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement and the post-2020 Biodiversity Goals. Instead, the deep sea can be viewed as a more holistic nature-based solution, including many ecosystem services and biodiversity in addition to climate. Environmental impact assessments (EIAs), area-based management, pollution reduction, moratoria, carbon accounting and fisheries management are tools in international treaties that could help realize benefits from deep-sea, nature-based solutions. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 6, 2024
  2. Abstract

    The rapid development of seafood trade networks alongside the decline in biomass of many marine populations raises important questions about the role of global trade in fisheries sustainability. Mounting empirical and theoretical evidence shows the importance of trade development on commercially exploited species. However, there is limited understanding of how the development of trade networks, such as differences in connectivity and duration, affects fisheries sustainability. In a global analysis of over 400,000 bilateral trade flows and stock status estimates for 876 exploited fish and marine invertebrates from 223 territories, we reveal patterns between seafood trade network indicators and fisheries sustainability using a dynamic panel regression analysis. We found that fragmented networks with strong connectivity within a group of countries and weaker links between those groups (modularity) are associated with higher relative biomass. From 1995 to 2015, modularity fluctuated, and the number of trade connections (degree) increased. Unlike previous studies, we found no relationship between the number or duration of trade connections and fisheries sustainability. Our results highlight the need to jointly investigate fisheries and trade. Improved coordination and partnerships between fisheries authorities and trade organizations present opportunities to foster more sustainable fisheries.

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  3. Global policy goals for halting biodiversity loss and climate change depend on each other to be successful. Marine biodiversity and climate change are intertwined through foodwebs that cycle and transport carbon and contribute to carbon sequestration. Yet, biodiversity conservation and fisheries management seldom explicitly include ocean carbon transport and sequestration. In order to effectively manage and govern human activities that affect carbon cycling and sequestration, international biodiversity and climate agreements need to address both biodiversity and climate issues. International agreements that address issues for climate and biodiversity are best poised to facilitate the protection of ocean carbon with existing policies. The degree to which the main international biodiversity and climate agreements make reference to multiple issues has however not been documented. Here, we used a text mining analysis of over 2,700 binding and non-binding policy documents from ten global ocean-related agreements to identify keywords related to biodiversity, climate, and ocean carbon. While climate references were mostly siloed within climate agreements, biodiversity references were included in most agreements. Further, we found that six percent of policy documents (n=166) included ocean carbon keywords. In light of our results, we highlight opportunities to strengthen the protection of ocean carbon in upcoming negotiations of international agreements, and via area-based management, environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment. 
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  4. Abstract

    Seafood is one of the most internationally-traded food commodities. International markets can provide higher revenues that benefit small-scale fishing communities but can also drive a decline in fished populations. Collective action in collective organizations such as fishing cooperatives is thought to enhance the sustainability of fished populations. However, our knowledge of how collective action enables fishing cooperatives to achieve positive social-ecological outcomes is dispersed across case studies. Here, we present a quantitative, national-level analysis exploring the relationship between different levels of collective action and social-ecological outcomes. We found that strong collective action in Mexican lobster cooperatives was related to both sustaining their fisheries and benefiting from international trade. In the 15 year study period, lobster cooperatives that demonstrate characteristics associated with strong collective action captured benefits from trade through high catch volumes and revenue. Despite lower (but stable) average prices, the biomass of their lobster populations was not compromised to reap these benefits. Individual case studies previously found that fishing cooperatives can support both positive social and ecological outcomes in small-scale fisheries. Our results confirm these findings at a national level and highlight the importance of strong collective action. Thus, our work contributes to a better understanding of the governance arrangements to promote fishing communities’ welfare and benefits from international trade and, therefore, will be invaluable to advancing small-scale fisheries governance.

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