Postgraduate Profiles

Kristina Heidrich

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Thesis: Reconstruction and analyses of data for the global large pelagic fisheries: IUU fishing, policy ramifications and the UN High Seas Agreement

The exploitation of the High Seas - areas beyond national jurisdiction – may have adverse impacts on marine ecosystems and has diverse social, political and economic consequences for the stakeholders involved. These marine waters are under the governance of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, which are responsible for data collection and management of stocks, but are hampered by the purely voluntary nature of stakeholder participation. Effective management is largely lacking, a fact that jeopardizes marine governance worldwide and places commercially-important high-value species such as tuna and billfishes at severe risk of overexploitation.To address this issue, the United Nations General Assembly launched in 2017 formal negotiations on a new international and legally binding instrument to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The establishment of a successful treaty requires a comprehensive historical understanding of global industrial fisheries for large pelagics, which is currently limited by the lack of adequate data. The proposed thesis will address this deficiency by providing: 1) a comprehensive estimation of actual total catches by the global industrial tuna and billfish fisheries using the catch reconstruction approach; 2) stock assessments of often-ignored data-limited species commonly interacting with high-seas fisheries; 3) investigating the benefits and losses due to potential implementation of no-take Marine Protected Areas; and 4) investigating the factors that determine the contribution of High Seas fisheries to food supply and availability of micronutrients to countries worldwide.The outcomes of this research will improve our understanding of the impact of fisheries on large pelagic species in areas beyond national jurisdiction and will provide informed recommendations for the implementation of the pending High Seas Treaty.

Why my research is important

Through this project, I will be able to extend our understanding of global fisheries for large pelagic species beyond national jurisdiction by accounting for historical spatio-temporal dynamics in the High Seas industrial fisheries. The outcomes of this research will help reveal patterns of unreported fishing, and shape discussions on future conservation management policy as an important contribution to the implementation and interpretation of the pending UN High seas Agreement.


Feb 2017