The Persistent Transboundary Problem in Marine Natural Resource Management

Owen R. Liu, Renato Molina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shared natural resources are vulnerable to overexploitation. Countries have established national borders on land and exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in the world's oceans in part to better control exploitation of local resources, but transboundary resources—those that span multiple national jurisdictions—are still subject to incentives for overextraction. We investigate the magnitude and distribution of this “transboundary problem” as it manifests in global fisheries. We show that internationally-shared fisheries exhibit lower relative abundance, on average, than those contained in single EEZs, even in the presence of extraction agreements and modern management practices. Additionally, for the first time we show that the degree of sharing—the number of countries sharing a resource and the spatial balance of each country's share—matters in driving the severity of the transboundary problem. Alleviating the transboundary problem for the fisheries we investigate would result in an estimated 4 to 17 million metric tons more fish in the ocean. In the future, growing human demand and climate change will likely exacerbate pressures on transboundary resources, requiring coordinated international governance solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number656023
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
StatePublished - Sep 10 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • fisheries
  • incentives
  • marine conservation
  • spatial analysis
  • transboundary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'The Persistent Transboundary Problem in Marine Natural Resource Management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this