The future of global ocean governance: Andrew Merrie completes fellowship

“What has been interesting about the Nereus fellowship right from the beginning is that we are all here, all engaged in this monumental challenge of predicting the future of marine fisheries and the global oceans. My whole PhD has been grappling with that question- how do you say something valuable around the future of the oceans from a governance perspective?” says Andrew Merrie, Nereus Fellow at Stockholm University. “You can’t develop predictive models from a social science perspective. Prediction is problematic. We can however gain an understanding of potential future pathways and the emergence of new challenges and new approaches to marine fisheries governance.”

A_MERRIE THESISMerrie recently completed his PhD at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, defending his thesis “Global Ocean Futures: Governance of marine fisheries in the Anthropocene.” His thesis consists of four papers that look at challenges in global governance of the oceans with a focus on marine fisheries.

“It’s important to not only understand what’s happening in terms of future climate change and global marine ecosystems but we also need to focus on how humans might respond to these predicted bio geophysical changes,” says Merrie. “What do these projected futures mean for the global fishing industry, for governance institutions, for human societies?”

The first paper, a collaboration with other Nereus fellows, is a framework for modelling scenarios of the future oceans which bring together both the human dimensions and the ecological dimensions. The second paper looks at new governance tools and how new and potentially innovative governance approaches might emerge and spread at a global scale. The third paper is about governance of the high seas – “areas where there’s a really fragmented governance structure, where countries have limited control over what happens and they’re all sort of competing in this space, while there are also new users that interact and create the possibility for surprise.” says Merrie.

Building on the focus on unexpected, non-linear changes in ecosystems, technology, and societies, the final paper uses an innovative method called science fiction prototyping to develop a set of narrative scenarios, built on a robust scientific evidence base, that present four possible ‘radical’ futures for marine fisheries in a changing global ocean. Merrie is currently preparing the “Radical Fishing Futures” manuscript for publication and we will share more details as the process continues.

Profile_Stockholm_AMerrie.jpgMerrie will continue working at the Stockholm Resilience centre, drawing on his experiences as a Nereus Program fellow.

“It was a very unique opportunity. Being part of a very global, interdisciplinary program created lots of opportunities that just wouldn’t exist otherwise and it’s shaped my thinking about marine and fisheries governance on a global scale,” says Merrie. “Having access to really excellent scientists, as well as climate and ecosystem modeling and fisheries management tools, has forced me to rigorously address my own thinking and allowed me to bring in a number of different perspectives that wouldn’t have happened if I had just been doing it by myself. So I would like to sincerely thank all those involved in the Nereus program for the challenging and highly rewarding experience of being a Nereus fellow.”