Marine fisheries are an important part of the exploitation of Marine resources. The global fish and seafood market is one of the largest and most integrated in the world, with a long supply chain and thousands of participants. The market has reached 159 billion dollars in 2020 and is expected to reach 194 billion dollars by 2026 with a sustained growth rate of 3.4% [1
]. Relevant data show that marine fisheries provide about two-fifths of the protein for human beings, which plays a pivotal role in the improvement of human health and living standard. With the further improvement of the exploitation and utilization of marine fisheries resources in the future, the impact of marine fisheries on the marine economy of various countries will become increasingly prominent. However, the exploitation and utilization of the oceans are accompanied by some negative consequences. In particular, the excessive and the predatory exploitation of marine resources by some countries has damaged the marine ecosystem and marine fishery resources, which has posed a serious threat to the sustainable development of marine fisheries. To maintain a healthy and balanced marine ecosystem, resolve the global ecological crisis, and achieve the sustainable development of global fisheries requires, all members of the international community to abandon narrow national interests and cry out for joint and effective international cooperation.
The Arctic has rich fishing resources and is a hotspot for disputes over maritime rights around the world. According to the analysis of statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the average annual catch in the Arctic (zones 18, 21, 27, 61 and 67) from 2011 to 2017 was 34.38 million tons, accounting for 38 percent of the global average annual catch, which has a significant impact on the security of global food supply and marine economic development. In recent years, the international community has paid more and more attention to Arctic fishery resources. The fishery resources move northward day by day, which can easily lead to a new round of competition for the fishery resources in the Arctic region. The sustainable development of the fisheries in the sustainable fishery trade cooperation among Arctic countries is threatened.
The sudden emergence of COVID-19 has hit all industries hard. The persistence of COVID-19 has also provided new thinking for the sustainable development of Arctic fisheries. As of 31 March 2021, there were more than 129 million cumulative confirmed cases and more than 2.8 million cumulative deaths worldwide. The health and security problems brought about by COVID-19 have caused a huge impact on the global economy and finance. During the epidemic period, there have been many cases of large-scale transmission of COVID-19 caused by cold chain logistics, which had a great impact on fishery trades. The World Trade Organization (WTO) released a forecast in October 2020 that the global commodity trade in 2020 will decline by 9.2% compared to that in 2019 [2
]. International trade plays an important role in the development of the world economy. It can promote the circulation of goods at home and abroad and closely link the domestic and foreign markets. Through international trade, sustainable behaviors can be spread among countries. In order to better deal with the sustainable development of fishery under the COVID-19, it is imperative for Arctic shipping countries to carry out extensive cooperation. Most Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries are close to the Arctic, which can trigger reflection on Arctic fisheries. Therefore, this paper chooses to study trade cooperation in the context of COVID-19.
Sustainable fishery trade cooperation is an important, realistic and international issue under the background of COVID-19. Marine fisheries are an important part of the marine economy and a vital part of human life, providing 40% of the protein of two-thirds of the world’s population. Every country and industry around the world has been affected by COVID-19 to different degrees, such as agriculture, manufacturing, imports and exports, tourism, and services. Along with the increasingly severe global outbreak, a lack of food may become a real challenge, which makes sustainable fisheries (The definition is shown in Table A1
of the Appendix A
) even more important. In view of the above situation, we raise two research questions:
Q1: What are the influencing factors of trade cooperation under the epidemic situation?
Q2: Will the four factors selected in this paper have a positive or a negative relationship with fishery trade cooperation?
Q3: What research suggestions can we propose for the future cooperation?
In order to answer the above questions, this paper introduces the mechanism of the impact of the epidemic on the development of fishery trade. On the basis of other scholars’ models, the game matrix and revenue function are modified in combination with the background of COVID-19 and the characteristics of the Arctic sustainable fishery trade, so as to build the model and simulate it. The rest of this paper is organized as follows: in the next section, we reviewed the literature. In section three, we used UCINET to calculate and map fishery trade networks before and after the outbreak. In section four, we built and simulated the model. Finally, the conclusions and discussions are presented in Section 5
2. Literature Review
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the world economy and international relations. The virus spreads internationally with the flow of people and materials, which seriously affects the normal flow of international trade. In the face of the impact of COVID-19, many countries have implemented restrictive trade measures [3
]. The global free trade system has been damaged under these restrictive trade measures and the embargo policy of the transportation industry, and global trade protectionism has been amplified, severely impacting both supply and demand. Many countries have strengthened quarantine inspection procedures for imported cold-chain products, which has increased the difficulty of trade between countries to a certain extent. After the outbreak of COVID-19, trade interconnectedness, connectivity and density among countries has significantly decreased, and trade network structure has undergone significant changes [4
]. In addition, COVID-19 will also aggravate the trade frictions between governments and enterprises [5
], which will hinder the cooperation in many fields around the world. As a transportation route that runs through many important countries throughout the world, the Arctic shipping route plays an important role in epidemic prevention, control, and cooperation [6
]. There are many world-famous fishing grounds (such as the North Sea fisheries and Newfoundland fisheries) near the Arctic waters, and the coastal countries along the Arctic shipping routes are rich in fishery resources. Most of the coastal countries are also important fishery countries in the world (such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland). How to deal with the current situation of sustainable fishery development under COVID-19 through trade cooperation is a topic worth thinking about.
At present, there are some international conventions, multilateral agreements and relevant organizations devoted to the sustainable development of fisheries in the Arctic shipping routes. At the global level, there are global conventions such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
adopted in 1982 and the United Nations Agreement on Fish Stocks
issued in 1995 [7
]. There are also bilateral or multilateral fishery cooperation agreements including the Treaty on the Conservation and Management of Salmon in the Pacific Ocean
signed by the United States and Canada in 1985, the Agreement on Common Fishery Relations
signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1988, and the Agreement on Common Fishery Relations
signed by Denmark, Norway, and Russia in 1992 [8
]. The fishery operation areas around the Arctic include the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, Northwest Atlantic Ocean, Northeast Pacific Ocean, and Northwest Pacific Ocean, in which some Arctic shipping countries are covered. Different types of fisheries management organizations and fisheries management committees have been established for each operational area, such as the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, the Atlantic Tuna Fish Management Committee, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, and many others. It can be seen that countries have long been aware of the interaction between fishery ecosystems and economic systems and have thereby achieved a series of achievements in fishery ecological management. Regrettably, cooperation in fishery management among related countries in the Arctic is fragmented. Current international fishery management rules are limited to specific regions and specific fish populations, and there is no management mechanism specifically applicable to the cooperation of countries involved in the Arctic’s sustainable fisheries trade [9
Sustainable fisheries consist of three aspects: environmental, social, and economic sustainability [10
]. The academic scholars generally use the quality of marine fishery resources and the degree of exploitation and utilization to reflect the sustainable utilization of fishery resources and the environment. Using the input and output of resources and the environment, that is, the amount of fish caught, to measure the sustainable use of economic aspects, sustainable utilization in society is measured by the coordination of sustainable utilization development, labor evaluation index, and the degree to which fishery resources meet the living needs of human beings [12
]. The behavior of overfishing will damage the water environment and will thereby have an impact on the fishery ecosystem [13
]. Therefore, it is necessary to vigorously promote sustainable development. Since each country is an independent interest body and there is no supranational regulatory body at present, the theoretical community agrees that cooperation is one of the most effective ways to solve regional environmental problems [14
]. However, since the nature of environmental cooperation is a kind of public goods cooperation, its international cooperation is bound to undergo the test of “free rider” behavior, which challenges the traditional solutions to environmental externalities. Scholars often use game theory to study international environmental cooperation [15
]. Hauer and Runge (1999) [16
], for the first time, linked trade and environment in the study of cross-border environmental pollution. The study of Limao (2005) [17
] has broadened the horizon for the academic community, proving that to increase the trade benefits of each country, to some extent, it can be considered to link trade with the environment, so as to achieve the purpose of stimulating environmental cooperation. Some scholars used the models of evolutionary games and cooperative games to analyze the strategy selection of related topics and the stability of equilibrium in the process of fishery cooperation and resource development [18
]. These studies provide methodological references for the formulation of international cooperation models for sustainable fisheries. In the actual process of international cooperation in fisheries, countries are affected by their economic ties, the regional international organizations they have joined together, and the differences in culture and values, making countries that have good economic cooperation relations more inclined to continue cooperation. Therefore, sustainable fishery cooperation with countries as the main body is obviously affected by the geo-economic network. The relationship network is incorporated into the game model, and the cooperative behavior of the cooperating countries in the Arctic sustainable fishery trade can be analyzed from the perspective of behavioral game. The perspective can provide a more realistic theoretical explanation.
Based on the above literature, it can be seen that in the existing related literature, the research content mainly focuses on the impact of the epidemic at the macro-level and the solutions, and less attention is paid to a micro-area under the background of the epidemic, such as the issue of international trade cooperation in the fishery field. There is very little literature discussing the impact of COVID-19 on certain regions, such as the Arctic route. With a deeper understanding of COVID-19, the micro-level of the research object of the enterprise industry will become the focus of international trade cooperation research.
As the expected opening of the Arctic shipping route is approaching, the strategic significance of the Arctic region in terms of energy resources, geographical location, transportation value, geopolitics, and military status is becoming increasingly prominent. Once the Arctic region realizes commercial navigation, it will certainly have an important impact on the global transportation system, such as the change and interconnection of cargo transportation modes, the re-selection of transportation routes, and the global change of cargo volume. In order to further study the countries and regions affected by the full opening of the Arctic shipping routes, systematically solve the problems related to the Arctic and the Arctic shipping routes, and steadily establish relevant international coordination mechanisms, the scope of Arctic countries should be expanded. However, the scope of the Great Arctic is too broad, including 53 countries and regions in Asia, Europe and North America [20
]. The complicated political, economic, and cultural situations involved make it difficult to carry out overall research. Therefore, the scope of the Great Arctic is further divided. On the basis of learning from scholars who also study Arctic environmental governance [21
], countries around the Arctic Circle, countries on the extension line of the Arctic, traditional major countries with global influence and countries affected by the Arctic shipping route are selected. The main body of the Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries is determined as follows: Canada, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Russia, and The United States (around the Arctic Circle); China, South Korea, Japan, India, and Singapore in Asia; Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Poland, and Italy; A total of 20. Table 1
The 20 countries will be the nodes of the network. The amount of fishery trade between two countries determines the weight of the relationship between member states in the network, and the degree of economic and trade links between countries varies with the amount of trade. The larger the trade volume is, the closer the network connection is and the stronger the trade connection. On the contrary, the connection is smaller or there is no cooperative relationship. By referring to the UN Comtrade database, a 20 × 20 network matrix was constructed by selecting the fishery trade data of 20 countries. We set the total import and export volume of the country to the node country is more than 100,000 dollars as the standard for the existence of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. There are trade ties between countries, and the corresponding item of the adjacency matrix is assigned a value of 1, otherwise it is assigned a value of 0. UCINET software was used to draw a fishery economic and trade cooperation network diagram of countries in the year before the epidemic (see Figure 1
). The 20 countries are arranged by their English first letter, the degree of each node country is (15,12,15,12,17,14,15,8,11,14,10,15,18,13,9,2,17,11,18,15), and the average degree is 13.05. UCINET software is used to map the Arctic fishery economic and trade cooperation network. In 2020, the cooperation network diagram of the countries related to the route is shown as in Figure 2
, the degree of each node country can be obtained as (17,9,16,12,0,15,16,7,11,11,0,15, 18, 12, 10, 0, 17, 12, 18, 15), and the average degree is 11.55.
From the simulation results, it can be seen that the sustainable fishery trade cooperation of Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries is significantly affected by the cooperation cost, incentive policy, game mode, and trade network structure. The greater the social incentive value is the more likely and faster the countries choose to cooperate. The smaller the cooperation cost is, the more likely the countries will choose to cooperate and the faster the cooperation will be achieved. Different game structures have different effects on cooperation. The Stag Hunt Model has the largest number of participating countries, followed by the Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Chicken game. COVID-19 will lead to changes in network structure, which will have an impact on cooperation, that is, sustainable fishery cooperation in the context of COVID-19 will slow down the speed of cooperation.
The costs of cooperation will hinder economic and trade cooperation between Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries. The investment of capital and technical support can provide more guarantees for the Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries and can encourage these countries to adopt a cooperative attitude, which is conducive to promoting full cooperation. Unpredictable market shocks, such as economic recessions, political instability, trade wars, or natural disasters, are all too common, so it is important to increase financial protection. To promote sustainable fishery cooperation among Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries, it is necessary to control the cost within a reasonable range and at the same time realize cost recovery and economic recovery by means of economic investment. First, coastal and marine ecosystems should be rehabilitated, and tourism and recreational fisheries should be strengthened to create jobs. Second, sewage and waste water infrastructure can be expanded to improve water quality related to fisheries production. Third, investing in sustainable, community-led, non-feeding marine culture, such as shellfish, will improve local livelihoods, increase the variety of products that can be produced, and make economies more efficient. Technological innovation also plays an extremely important role in Marine sustainable development. Low carbon transportation is another new technology to realize the sustainable development of the ocean. More than 90% of global cargo is transported by sea, but ships using heavy fuel oil can release coal ash and sulfur into the environment, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions and the decarbonization of transportation can generate 1 trillion dollars to 9 trillion dollars worth of benefits in 30 years, accelerate transition to a low-carbon economy, promote efficiency, and to a certain extent, reduce the shipping department of stranded assets [31
]. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the latest edition of the world’s fisheries and aquaculture status report pointed out that in capture fisheries, by providing more accurate weather forecasts for fishermen and satellite positioning, new products or service innovation can change their activities, making it more safe, more accurate, and more predictable. Moreover, the emerging technologies of the information stored in the collection and security benefit can help to better comply with stricter regulatory and traceability requirements.
Neighbor rewards can promote the evolution of the economic and trade network of Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries to the direction of cooperation. With COVID-19 becoming the norm, it is difficult for a single country to achieve sustainable development and resolve the current dilemma. International cooperation needs to be strengthened. One of the ways of mutually beneficial cooperation between social organizations and multiple social subjects is the multi-level social participation network. The denser the networks of social participation, the more likely its participants are to cooperate because of their mutual interests. All types of social capital (fishing communities, between groups of fishermen, between fishermen and regulators) are important, and close-knit groups contribute to conflict mitigation and problem resolution [32
]. It is impossible to achieve sustainable fisheries only with the strength of Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries. To ensure the stability of the trade network under the epidemic situation and expand the breadth of the sustainable fishery trade network are the appropriate countermeasures at present. To this end, in the context of COVID-19, countries should support research on the improvement and advocacy of sustainable fisheries; strengthen the position of fisheries both within and outside the field of marine management; provide knowledge exchange on the state of fisheries, with traditional knowledge provided by fishermen and scientific knowledge provided by regulators; and enhance resilience to changes in fisheries and external influences through common management. Countries should further strengthen the improvement of emergency response mechanisms, strengthen the implementation of various preferential policies for enterprises by local governments, make every effort to ensure smooth logistics and customs clearance, build strategic mutual trust, and reduce trade barriers so as to jointly cope with the impact of COVID-19 on fisheries and aquaculture.
The game mode will affect the cooperation between countries, and the Stag Hunt Model is beneficial to the cooperation. The Stag Hunt Model tells us that “cooperation is a win-win situation”. Cooperation requires that both parties learn to collaborate with their rivals and fully take into account the interests of their partners. Sustainable fishery cooperation among Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries is feasible and has a certain practical basis. The first is the existence of a rich, if imperfect, range of rules and regulations, and the frequent meetings of countries to agree on sustainable fisheries management. For example, on 16 July 2015, the five Arctic coastal countries (Canada, the United States, Russia, Norway, and Denmark) signed the Declaration on the Prevention of Irregular High Seas Fishing in the Core Area of the Arctic Ocean. On 1 December 2015, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Iceland, and the European Union (EU) held the first round of talks on the establishment of a fisheries management agreement on the high seas of the Arctic Ocean in Washington, DC, USA. At the 2016 meeting, there was a consensus to collaborate on fisheries research, despite disagreements over the timing of exploratory and commercial fishing, decision making, and the legal binding power of fisheries agreements. The above-mentioned countries held another meeting in Iceland from 15–18 March 2017. They reached agreement on most issues and promised to summarize the results of the consultations in the near future. On 3 October 2018, those countries concluded the Agreement in Ilulissat, Greenland [33
]. After discussions at several meetings from 2015 to 2018, cooperation on Arctic fisheries management has finally been tentatively reached. Accordingly, it can be seen that fishery cooperation in the Arctic region is feasible and underway, but how to better cooperate still needs to be considered. In addition, each country has a cultural heritage of sustainable development. Taoism, which was born in China, contains ecological thoughts, while European and American countries emphasize ecological criticism. Taoism’s main feature are ecological holism, which emphasizes that the overall interests of the ecosystem are of the highest value, and maintaining and protecting the integrity, harmony, stability, balance, and sustainable existence of the ecosystem is the fundamental measure to measure everything [34
]. Therefore, countries belonging to the Arctic shipping routes have consensus and basic conditions for the development of sustainable fisheries. Sustainable fishery cooperation requires all countries to continuously uphold the concept of win-win cooperation and establish a large organization including all countries of the Arctic shipping routes to discuss sustainable fisheries management in the Arctic region.
From the actual situation and research conclusions, the change in the network structure will have an impact on cooperation; that is, in the context of COVID-19, the speed of cooperation in sustainable fisheries will be slowed down. However, as the impact of the epidemic on the economy is a shock change, it will only affect the cooperation for a short period of time. The epidemic is a sudden factor for the economy, and in the short term, COVID-19 could have an impact on cooperation. Products related to COVID-19 (such as masks, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, and other pharmaceutical chemicals) may damage aquatic ecosystems, particularly in and around urban areas, and trade disruptions and loss of income may increase the exploitation of more available and less valuable fish. Under COVID-19, countries have taken measures to restrict the movement of people and goods, which has affected the increase of export trade revenue. At the same time, human and material resources have to be spent to deal with health and security issues, which have greatly affected the enthusiasm of countries for cooperation. In the longer term, however, as COVID-19 becomes the norm and countries step up vaccination, the cooperation of countries in the sustainable fisheries trade in the Arctic may return to normal over time. The outbreak of COVID-19 highlights that policy action lags behind the release of data on fisheries and seafood supply, the short-term need to strengthen the monitoring of epidemic information related to fisheries, control and monitoring, and weekly updated public land data, which can provide the production and policy making with scientific and effective information [35
]. In addition, countries need to collect data on consumer demand and on the physical fitness of workers in aquatic production on a regular and extensive basis in order to provide important information to policy makers before and during shocks.
This article uses a complex network method combined with game theory to discuss the cooperation of Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries under COVID-19, which is different from previous studies on the Arctic region [36
]. The economic and trade cooperation of the Arctic route economic circle is most significantly affected by the cooperation costs of various countries, the incentive policies of each country, the cooperation methods of each country, and the structure of the trade network. The specific conclusions are as follows.
First of all, because the Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries have certain differences in cultural concepts, economic development levels, and sustainable fishery technology levels, it will be a long-term process for countries to accept and practice the concept of sustainable fishery development. Second, the smaller the cost of cooperation, the more likely countries are to adopt cooperative strategies. Third, the greater the value of the reward given by neighboring countries, the more countries will adopt cooperative strategies, and the impact of cost on cooperation is greater than the incentives. Fourth, different game structures have different effects on cooperation. The Stag Hunt Model has the largest number of cooperative players, followed by the Prisoner’s Dilemma game, and finally the Chicken game. In summary, for sustainable fisheries cooperation in the context of COVID-19, the speed of reaching cooperation will slow down. However, because the epidemic is a short-term, non-traditional security risk, the epidemic will likely only be a sudden factor affecting the trade cooperation status of Arctic sustainable fishery trade cooperation countries in a short period of time. Under the COVID-19 epidemic, countries have taken measures to restrict the movement of people and goods, which has affected the increase of export trade revenue. At the same time, human and material resources have to be spent to deal with health and security issues, which has greatly affected the enthusiasm of countries for cooperation. However, in the longer term, as the COVID-19 becomes normal and countries step up vaccination, cooperation in Arctic sustainable fisheries trade may return to business as usual. This article proposes measures that countries may take to better cooperate in sustainable fisheries development, which will help expand the literature on Arctic fisheries-related cooperation. Future scholars can also explore the mechanisms that make countries better accept sustainable fisheries on the basis of the research in this article. The research scope can be expanded from the Arctic route to other regions. In addition, future scholars can add some baseline scheme to compare the results. For example, compare the data to the year 2000.
This study also has the following limitations: First, although there are many fishing countries along the Arctic route, we only selected those countries with established trade relations. Researchers can try to verify the model by simulation analysis of the whole network in the future; second, there are many factors that affect the cooperation of companies in the trade of Arctic sustainable fishery under COVID-19. Only four of them are discussed in this research, and there may be other factors, such as initiator cooperation ratio and pressure, which are worth exploring in the future.