Fisheries and the Sustainable Development Goals: working towards a comprehensive framework

Project Outline and objectives:
2015 is the year the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals will be published. The 17 goals are an ambitious and exciting step toward sustainable development, yet there remain a number of key challenges relating to implementation, governance, community uptake, understanding, monitoring and evaluation. Case studies are required to examine these issues in more detail and work towards possible solutions.

Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” is a particularly significant goal, as 70% of the world is covered in water and humans rely on oceans and the marine space for a significant proportion of their food, transport, employment, recreation, energy and culture and this is only likely to increase in the future. This project contributes to the need to work from the ‘bottom up’ to develop effective quantitative and qualitative metrics in line with the goal’s targets and to examine how trade-offs and synergies with other goals will play out. The project will compare different fisheries, possibly from different locations around the world, and develop a framework for assessing these against the SDGs, linking to existing assessments were appropriate – such as MSC certification, RAPFISH etc.

More specifically the project will:

  1. To develop a framework to assess Australian fisheries against the SDGs.
  2. To identify gaps, synergies and trade-offs in the current SDGs.
  3. To identify and trial metrics for specific goals in the SDGs.
  4. To engage with the marine sector and the related communities in learning about and responding to the SDGs.
  5. To extend theories about global governance and trial an approach to linking global and grass roots initiatives.

Methods will include a combination of qualitative and quantitative tools to engage with industry, to assess fishery data against the SDGs and to develop quantitative and transferable metrics and an overarching framework.

PhD Student: 
Bianca Haas

Aysha Fleming, CSIRO (
Beth Fulton, CSIRO
Jeff McGee, UTAS


Collaborative links:
This project fits with the CMS remit because it is world leading work, that is regionally based but with much broader application. It is grounded in theories of sustainable development as well as conceptualisations of grass roots and global governance but is strongly applied, with potential applications across a wide range of fisheries. The work needs to start with fisheries as they get the most focus on an industry basis in the SDGs. The work could then act as a launch point for bringing in other marine industries in the future (which will likely be necessary for the SDGs to be achieved over the full suite of the goals not just those directly referring to the oceans). The focus on development of a framework for assessment of the SDGs in practice is likely to be of much broader interest globally (even beyond the marine sector) and to direct future scientific research, either theoretically – in terms of current limitation in thinking about sustainable development and/or global governance (e.g. green governmentality, ecological reflexivity) and practically – in terms of metrics of evaluation and engagement with the SDGs.

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