Colette Wabnitz (UBC) and Robert Blasiak (Stockholm Resilience Centre) are co-authors on a new paper in Marine Policy that investigates how Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding for fisheries has changed from 2002-2016. As defined by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ODA is “any financial flow (a) administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective and (b) is concessional in character and conveys a grant element of at least 25% (calculated at a rate discount of 10%)” with the aim of alleviating long-term poverty. The authors investigate factors that help shape how donors allocate ODA – including their diplomatic, economic and strategic interests – and how the funding may be used as “an instrument of soft power and geopolitical influence”. By using network analysis to study geographical patterns of funding allocation for fisheries, they find that the number of donor countries increased from 29 (in 2002) to 34 (2016), with Japan maintaining the largest “long-term structure of fisheries-related ODA network” with 15 different countries and Norway having the second largest (6 countries/regions). The authors also studied how previous colonial powers France and the U.K. disperse fisheries-related aid, and whether their historical ties to those countries influence their funding flow patterns. You can read the full abstract below, as well as access the article.

Abstract: Foreign aid constitutes a significant part of the national income of many developing countries. Fisheries are often of relevance for livelihoods and food security in these countries, so funding aimed at supporting sustainable fisheries can directly contribute to human well-being. In theory, foreign aid is aimed at promoting the economic development and welfare of developing countries and its allocation should therefore be aligned with development needs. However, the aid literature points to colonialism and donor self-interest at national levels as well as in the international arena as important forces shaping aid flows. Using network analytical techniques, this study examines to what extent both the magnitude and structural patterns of Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding for fisheries have changed over time (2002–2016) and what appear to be sources of stability or longterm tie formation in the network. The resulting network demonstrates that short-term ties, typically over a
single year, are the norm for fisheries-related ODA, while long-term ties are uncommon. Among donor states, Japan has fostered the greatest number of donor-recipient ties over the entire study period, which in some cases appear to overlap with geopolitical priorities. The existence of historical colonial linkages is a poor predictor for ties that last the entire 15 years under examination; however, they are a strong predictor of shorter duration ties. The analysis suggests that more effort is needed to optimize resource use towards achieving the international development agenda reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals.


Pittman, J., Wabnitz, C., & Blasiak, R. (2019). A global assessment of structural change in development funding for fisheries. Marine Policy, 109, Marine Policy. link

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