As Fish Move in Response to Climate, Pacific Islands are a Model for Countries to Manage Cooperatively

September 20, 2018

The letter, “Good Governance for Migratory Species,” supports a recent article in Science’s ‘Policy Forum’ that argues global policy must anticipate conflict over geographic shifts due to climate change. The letter highlights the leadership shown by Pacific Island Countries in cooperative governance of fisheries resources across geographies.

“Cooperative arrangements will need to be more common as climate change drives shifts in species distribution, and the Pacific Islands are leading the way,” writes co-author Jack Kittinger, Senior Director of Conservation International ’s Center for Oceans.

The governance arrangements made by the eight Pacific Island countries that supply 30 percent of the world’s tuna, and which collaborate as the ‘Parties to the Nauru Agreement,’ provide an example of how to equitably share the benefits from fish that move among their exclusive economic zones in response to climatic variability.

“Billions of people across the globe rely on the ocean for food. As climate change redistributes fish populations across national boundaries, there is potential for conflict among countries over newly-shared resources. Governments need to include the effects of ‘species on the move’ in their policy decisions aimed at maintaining economic stability and harmony with neighboring countries,” says Johann Bell, Senior Fisheries Director, Conservation International and co-author of the letter.

Learn more about Conservation International’s work in the Pacific Islands. To speak to the authors, please contact

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International, the groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “My Africa”, “Under the Canopy” and “Valen’s Reef.” Follow Conservation International’s work on our Human Nature blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.