Date of Award

Fall 7-28-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Yong Chen

Second Committee Member

Keith Evans

Third Committee Member

Walter Golet

Additional Committee Members

Jake Kritzer

Lisa Suatoni


Sustainable fisheries management requires decisions to be made based on sound science. To help ensure this, a Science-Based Fisheries Management (SBFM) system should be established to produce the best available science (BAS) and to ensure that the BAS forms the basis of decision-making. The goal of this dissertation is to look at how China, the world’s largest marine fisheries country, might build an effective SBFM system to enable its marine fisheries to attain sustainability. Studies were conducted to answer the following guiding questions: 1) what is SBFM? 2) why is it necessary for China to deploy SBFM? 3) what are China’s challenges, roadblocks, and opportunities in implementing SBFM?, and 4) how to overcome the obstacles by reforming China’s fisheries system.

This dissertation is structured into four chapters. An extensive literature review was conducted in Chapter 1 to determine the concept and enablers of SBFM in the world. A framework that included a thorough set of criteria and a basic operational structure for SBFM was given. The evolution of China’s marine fisheries management practices from 1949 to 2019 was examined in Chapter 2 based on a comprehensive literature review and the researcher’s observations in meetings and conversations with Chinese fisheries experts. This Chapter provides materials to help people better understand the features and trends of China’s marine fisheries policies, as well as the characteristics of its marine capture fisheries. The study indicated that China’s sustainable marine fisheries management faces numerous challenges and hurdles, the majority of which are associated with SBFM - inefficient science-policy interactions and data shortages. The checklist of SBFM criteria defined in Chapter 1 was used in Chapter 3 to analyze China’s marine fisheries management system from a system engineering perspective. The benefits and drawbacks of the system for implementing SBFM were examined. Finally, in Chapter 4, the advantages and disadvantages of China’s marine fisheries management system were summarized, and recommendations for China’s marine fisheries reform with the goal of constructing a more successful SBFM were provided.

This dissertation concluded that 1) China’s sustainable marine fisheries management cannot succeed without institutional reforms to support stronger science and its integration into fisheries policymaking; 2) reforming the fisheries management system from the perspective of system engineering can be an effective way to promote the production of better BAS and its use in policies; and, 3) use of the SBFM framework developed in this study can help China evaluate and reform its marine fisheries legal and institutional framework, and at the same time leverage the localized TAC pilot programs to develop and test a structured approach for SBFM. With the expansion of TAC pilots, the approach can be revised accordingly and finally inform the development and implementation of SBFM at large.