International trade fisheries and development

Submitting Institution

Queen Mary, University of London

Unit of Assessment

Business and Management Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Economics: Applied Economics
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Political Science

Download original


Summary of the impact

Liam Campling's (Lecturer in Work and Organisation at QMUL since 2009) research on the global tuna industry, the international trade regime and developing countries, and his ongoing policy collaboration with development agencies, trade unions and NGOs (a combination of commissioned and pro-bono work), has contributed to three sets of impacts: (1) influencing trade policy, regulation and legislation to support developing countries, including at the WTO; (2) improving labour conditions in tuna processing facilities in Papua New Guinea (PNG); and, (3) influencing public debate and understanding of fisheries industry and policy.

Underpinning research

The limited creation and capture of benefits by developing countries from the extraction of their natural resources has long been a concern of development policy. Campling's research focuses on the global connections which construct, exploit and sustain resource extraction, and form the socially and ecologically fraught foundations of the multi-billion dollar tuna industry. His framework for analysing the global processes shaping the tuna industry stresses the intersection of business decisions, geopolitical relations, state-firm relations and conservation efforts. His research shows the interconnectedness of problems: the role of multinational firms in tropical tuna fisheries; the hierarchy in the international state system in shaping fisheries trade and resource access policies; and the strategies available for developing countries to capture equitable and environmentally sustainable, socio-economic benefits from this industry.

The primary underpinning research consists of: (i) 15 commissioned reports (single authored or led by Campling) for regional government agencies in Africa and the Pacific islands, international development organisations, and NGOs between Dec 2005 and Aug 2009, which included semi-structured interviews with 450 government officials, industry representatives and other stakeholders in 18 countries; (ii) research in 2010/11 commissioned by the European Commission (Hamilton et al. 2011a) and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) (eg Hamilton et al. 2011b) based on semi-structured interviews with 205 government officials, industry representatives and other stakeholders in 14 countries, telephone and email consultation, and desk-top study; (iii) participant observation as representative to the Pacific Island WTO members (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tonga) for two to three days every month between Dec 2007 and Mar 2011 at WTO Doha Round Negotiating Group on Rules multilateral clusters and bilateral meetings in Geneva; (iv) participation observation as expert in fisheries trade negotiations in Brussels (EU-Pacific Islands, Sept 2009) and Zanzibar (East African Community, Aug 2011); and (v) a series of academic publications (see s. 3) that stemmed from the research described in (i)-(iv).

Campling's research and policy work on tuna commodity chains places him as a world-leading expert on the industry and the international fish trade. His research shows, in the EU-and US-centred commodity chains in canned tuna, the operation of chain governance by lead firms, regulatory mechanisms and industrial upgrading. The work traces the historical and contemporary `economic' dynamics in the chain: horizontal and vertical competitive relations among firms involved in fishing, manufacturing, branding and retail (eg Campling 2012; Hamilton et al. 2011a and 2011b). His work also examines the `political' dimensions of the chain through the mechanisms regulating resource access by industrial fishing firms and the regimes shaping trade in tuna products (eg Guillotreau et al 2012). Campling's work combines the `economic' and the `political' through case studies of upgrading in developing states in the Pacific and the Indian oceans, showing how combinations of structural, environmental and conjunctural dynamics, including those of domestic politics, shape tuna chains (Havice and Camping 2010 and 2013; Hamilton et al. 2011a). Finally, Campling's research has influenced policy, providing robust evidence for trade negotiations, which he has also participated in as a representative of developing countries. This work has then fed back into academic outputs (eg Campling and Havice 2013).

References to the research

** submitted to REF2014

**Havice, Elizabeth and Campling, Liam (2010) `Shifting tides in the Western Central Pacific Ocean tuna fishery: The political economy of regulation and industry responses', Global Environmental Politics, 9(1): 89-114. [GEP is the #3 journal in Political Science and the #10 journal in Environmental Sciences (ranking by the 2012 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports)], doi:10.1162/glep.2010.10.1.89


**Campling, Liam and Havice, Elizabeth (2013) `Mainstreaming environment and development at the WTO? Fisheries subsidies, the politics of rule-making and the elusive "triple win"', Environment and Planning A, 45(4): 835-852, doi:10.1068/a45138


**Havice, Elizabeth and Campling, Liam (2013) `Articulating upgrading: Island developing states and canned tuna production', Environment and Planning A, 45. [Early View: doi:10.1068/a45697]


Campling, Liam (2012) `The tuna `commodity frontier': Business strategies and environment in the industrial tuna fisheries of the Western Indian Ocean', Journal of Agrarian Change, 12(2-3): 252-278. [Impact Factor: 2.191 ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2012: 6/55 (Planning & Development); 36/332 (Economics)], DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0366.2011.00354.x


Guillotreau, Patrice, Campling, Liam and Robinson, Jan (2012) `Vulnerability of small island fishery economies to climate and institutional changes', Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 4(3): 287-291 [Impact Factor 2012: 3.168; 5-Year Impact Factor: 3.391 — Thompson Reuters journal citation reports 2013],


Reports targeting end users referenced above and below

Hamilton, Amanda, Antony Lewis and Liam Campling (2011a) Report on the implementation of the derogation to the standard rules of origin granted to the Pacific ACP States in the framework of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement, Brussels: Directorate-General for Trade, European Commission.

Hamilton, Amanda, Antony Lewis, Mike A. McCoy, Elizabeth Havice and Liam Campling (2011b) Market and Industry Dynamics in the Global Tuna Supply Chain, Honiara: Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.

Details of the impact

1) Influencing trade policy, regulation and legislation

Campling's research was central to the Pacific Islands negotiating a new `rule of origin' (RoO) with the EU in 2007, which allows these developing countries to export canned tuna to the EU duty-free without having to use fish caught by EU boats. The restrictiveness of the old RoO was a source of controversy for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states since 1976. The European Parliament (2012) estimates that new investment stemming from the reformed RoO will see PNG's local benefits from tuna processing grow from US$21m in 2012 to $70m by 2018 and employment increase from 5,770 (mostly local women) to 20,000. The Director of the Marine Resources Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, said: "[Campling] provided the [Pacific Islands] region with the first comprehensive reference work on the subject of fisheries trade rules... for countries like PNG... [this] has contributed to the attraction of major foreign investment and job creation."

Since 2008, Campling has worked on the European Commission's impact assessment of this RoO (Hamilton et al. 2011a). The DG TRADE, European Commission said: "The study was — and continues to be — highly relevant for the implementation of the EPA [Economic Partnership Agreement], and the wider dialogue with the stakeholders. It was particularly important because it provided detailed data and thorough analysis on a subject which until then had been discussed on the basis of hearsay and anecdotal evidence. The analysis of the wider (social and environmental) impact of the derogation also helped us to better define our position in the on-going negotiations of the relevant chapters of the comprehensive EPA with the Pacific region."

Campling's research underpinned another major report, commissioned by FFA (Hamilton et al. 2011b). It is now a standard reference work used by media and tuna firms (it has 5,823 hits on the FFA website and 4,596 on at 26/09/13) and is cited by Greenpeace, International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), and the Philippines Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries. The Policy Advisor, DG MARE, European Commission said: "[Campling's] work as an FFA consultant [eg Hamilton et al. 2011b] concretely impacted on the stance of Pacific states at the international level and allowed them to start integrating their fisheries sectors in the global tuna supply chain."

At the World Trade Organisation, Campling provided an evidence-based contribution (2007 to 2011) to the negotiation positions of four alliances of developing countries in the Doha Round. The main users were the Pacific Island countries and small, vulnerable economies (SVEs) groupings, but also the African group and the least developed countries (LDCs). The main impacts were in the development of positions on proposed new trade rules disciplining fisheries subsidies (Campling wrote the analytical room documents and speeches and personally engaged in bilateral and multilateral negotiations). Campling contributed to formal SVE positions on enhancing differentiation for small vulnerable economies, a special exemption from rules for subsidised fisheries access fees, and relaxing rigid proposed rules for artisanal / subsistence fishers. Counsellor at the Office of the Director General, WTO, noted that Campling's work: "was crucial in helping the group of SVEs have a better grasp of the conceptual and practical link between the possible rules and disciplines on fisheries subsidies and what was happening on the ground in countries... His work on tuna in Hamilton et al. (2011b) and Havice and Campling (2010) shed light on an issue on which there was only sporadic exposure to in the WTO negotiations and resulted in there being a greater appreciation for the role of the fisheries' industry in Small Island States and a more nuanced negotiating position on behalf of the group of SVEs."

(2) Improving labour conditions in PNG tuna processing facilities

In 2010/11 Campling was involved in the European Commission review of PNG's new RoO with the EU (Hamilton et al. 2012a). The review recommended improving working conditions in PNG tuna factories, a recommendation that was carried through in a public policy agreement between PNG and the EU, with the former agreeing to enhance working conditions. Pro-bono work (drawing on Campling's published research) has also fed into a campaign by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) since Feb. 2011 on unionising this new industrial workforce in PNG. ITF organising work resulted in the unionisation of tuna processing workers with employer commitments to improved working conditions and pay (ITF 2013a, 2013b). The ITF Fisheries Programme Leader said Hamilton et al. (2011b) and other work by Campling "played a vital role in evidencing the value of investing in a pilot project in PNG" which "directly led to the unionization of over 5,000 workers in the fisheries sector in the country". ITF draws on "the evidence base in his publications that is invaluable in our training and education programmes around the world and have so far been used in the training of over 400 union leaders and industry specialists". In addition, Campling (2012) and Havice and Campling (2013) "provided evidence that there is value in further research being commissioned in the Africa region to start expanding our work programme there". ITF has commissioned Campling to do this work in Dec. 2013.

(3) Influencing public debate and understanding of fisheries industry and policy

Campling's research and pro-bono advice contributed to a successful Greenpeace UK campaign in 2010/11 that resulted in a complete overhaul of UK canned tuna brands and supermarkets' tuna sourcing policies. Campling's research underpinned the understanding that lay behind that campaign. The former head of Greenpeace UK Oceans Campaign, now CEO Greenpeace Australia, who was deeply involved in the campaign says: "The work of Campling was absolutely crucial in assisting Greenpeace in understanding the nature of the global tuna trade. We specifically drew guidance from [his] work on the political economy of the global tuna trade, and have quoted him in Greenpeace publications." Environmental journalist Martin Hickman called this "one of the most successful environmental campaigns in years" (The Independent, 12 April 2011).

Campling's research has also deepened the understanding of change in the global fishing industry and associated policy regimes. He produces a bi-monthly publication FFA Fisheries Trade News (since Dec 2007) for FFA, frequently cited in the media and by development agencies. It provides timely analysis of fisheries trade policy, regulation, markets and industry, with emphasis on issues of relevance to the independent Pacific Island countries. The Chairman of the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association says: "Both in the Association and private company role I am a regular user of, and rely upon [...] FFA Fisheries Trade News... This is the prime and often the first information source on trade matters effecting Pacific Island nations." The coordinator for the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements (representing a coalition of development and environmental NGOs in Brussels) notes that Campling: "Informed our own research and facilitated our lobbying of the European Parliament and European Commission on environmental and social sustainability issues in fisheries." Available online FFA Fisheries Trade News is also distributed by email by FFA's Fisheries Development Division to around 150 recipients (key FFA Fisheries and Trade Officials, FFA professional staff and external contacts) and by the authors to their own network of contacts (around 200 recipients). In addition to these direct mailings, from July 2012 to June 2013 it recorded monthly average online reads of around 2,500.

In other pro-bono contributions to public debate, Campling was guest speaker at Greenpeace's launch of the Tinned Tuna League Table 2011, alongside Charles Clover (journalist and author), Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (chef and campaigner) and Zak Goldsmith (MP). In 2012 he advised the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food at a meeting in Nairobi on issues related to fish production, access and the right to food. This culminated in a report to the UN General Assembly (A/67/268, 2012), which referenced Campling's work. In 2013, Campling was invited by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs to a meeting of experts on new and emerging issues of small island developing states (SIDS); the report from which will feed into the 20-year review of the UN Barbados Plan of Action for SIDS in 2014.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. A/67/268, 2012, The right to food; Note by the Secretary-General — Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, United Nations Secretary General. [influence over public debate at the UN]
  2. European Parliament (2012), `Application of the System of Derogation to the Rules of Origin of Fisheries Products in Papua New Guinea and Fiji', requested by the Committee on Fisheries, Brussels. [trade policy impacts in the EU and the Pacific Islands]
  3. Martin Hickman, `Fresh triumph for ethical tuna fishing campaign.' The Independent, 12 April 2011. [influence over UK public debate and private sector sustainable fish sourcing by Greenpeace which Campling's research supported]
  4. ITF (2013a and b), `Papua New Guinea's emerging collectivism', Fisheries eBulletin, June 2013.; `Papua New Guinea workers win right to organise', 30 August. [PNG labour conditions impact by International Transport Workers' Federation which Campling's research supported]
  5. Director General, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency [trade policy impacts in the Pacific Islands, Pacific Island-EU relations and at the WTO]
  6. Economic and Trade Affairs Manager, Directorate General for Trade, European Commission [trade policy impacts in the EU and EU-Pacific Island relations]
  7. Counsellor, Office of the Director General, WTO [trade policy impacts at the WTO]
  8. Former head of Greenpeace UK Oceans Campaign, now CEO Greenpeace Australia: [influence over UK public debate and private sector sustainable fish sourcing]
  9. ITF/IUF Fisheries Programme Leader, International Transport Workers Federation [PNG labour conditions impact]