Research Data

International Fishery Conflict Database


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International Fishery Conflict Database
Date Record Created
Date Record Modified
Date Coverage
1974 to 2016
Time Period
(no information)
Geospatial Location
  1. Type: brief

    This database logs international conflicts over fishery resources occuring between 1974 and 2016 by using event data, i.e. detailed records of interactions between countries. 

  2. Type: full

    From Spijkers et al. 2019 (supplementary material):

    An international fishery conflict is here defined as a dispute:

    (a)  actualized through ‘conflict events’, which are actions or behaviors ranging from an exchange of statements to severe military in- volvement and casualties (as defined by the ‘intensity of observed behavior’ scale, see Table 1).

    (b)  occurring between two or more states and/or vessels that fly their flag;

    (c)  related to access to a fishery resource or management of a fishery resource;

    (d)  potentially occurring in the larger context of a maritime territorial conflict, where the fishery resource contributes to some degree to that territorial conflict;

    (e)  spanning any length of time.

    This database logs international conflicts over fishery resources occuring between 1974 and 2016 by using event data, i.e. detailed records of interactions between countries. Event data were identified through the LexisNexis Academic database, the world's largest repository of media reports, using the following search terms: "trade ban", "seize AND vessel", "close w/5 ports", "no w/5 agreement", "sanction", "attack w/5 vessel", "conflict AND tribunal" in combination with 28 specific fish species, as well as the general term of "fish" (w/5 means 'within five words'). The search terms were used to detect the actions and behaviors from the intensity scale developed by Spijkers et al. (2018). The 28 specific species were selected based on the commercial groups within the SeaAroundUs database (see Pauly & Zeller, 2015). The specific fish species to search for were selected based on the 12 commercial groups within the SeaAroundUs database (Pauly & Zeller 2015). SeaAroundUs defines 'commercial' as all marine fish or invertebrate species that are either reported in the catch statistics of at least one of the member countries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), or are listed as part of commercial and non-commercial catches (retained as well as discarded) in country-specific catch reconstructions. We selected the top 2 species that were targeted most in terms of tonnage for each commercial group, and used (part of) their taxa common name as search terms.

    We entered into the database those results that were relevant based on our definition of a conflict event. We tracked the following event characteristics: number of countries involved, the species mentioned, the date, the intensity of the observed behaviour or action, whether a specific territory under dispute was mentioned, and whether or not it was linked to IUU fishing.

    Conflict events can be continuations of the same conflict over time. In the 'cluster column', events are grouped together if they happened between the same countries (the EU can represent countries part of the EU in the database because fishery policy is a competence of the EU), the same species (or part of the same nested species grouping, e.g. albacore tuna and tuna were clustered together, but not yellowfin tuna and albacore tuna). 


    Pauly, D., Zeller, D., 2015. Sea Around Us Concepts, Design and Data. 

    Spijkers, J., Morrison, T.H., Blasiak, R., Cumming, G.S., Osborne, M., Watson, J., Österblom, H., 2018. Marine fisheries and future ocean conflict. Fish Fish. doi:10.1111/faf.12291

    Spijkers, J., Singh, G., Blasiak, R., Morrison, T.H., Le Billon, P., Österblom, H., 2019. Global patterns of fisheries conflict: Forty years of data. Glob. Environ. Chang. 57. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.05.005



  3. Type: note

    This dataset contains data collected by Jessica Spijkers under a cotutelle PhD agreement between James Cook University and Stockholm University from 2016-2017. The file is an Excel spreadsheet and has also been saved in Open Document (.ods) format for preservation purposes.

Related Publications
  1. Spijkers, Jessica, Singh, Gerald, Blasiak, Robert, Morrison, Tiffany H., Le Billon, Philippe, and Österblom, Henrik (2019) Global patterns of fisheries conflict: forty years of data. Global Environmental Change, 57. 101921.
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Technical metadata
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  1. Aggregated by: Miss Jessica Spijkers , , ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Primary Contact
Miss Jessica Spijkers,
  1. Prof Tiffany Morrison ,
  2. Prod Henrik Österblom ,
(no information)
Fields of Research
  1. 050209 - Natural Resource Management (050209)
  2. 160607 - International Relations (160607)
Socio-Economic Objective
  1. 969999 - Environment not elsewhere classified (969999)
  1. fisheries
  2. conflict
  3. social-ecological systems
  4. governance
  5. time series
  6. ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Research Activity
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Research Themes
People and Societies in the Tropics
CC BY-NC 4.0: Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International
License - Other
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Access Rights/Conditions
Open access. If the data is not freely accessible via the link provided, please contact the nominated data manager or for assistance.
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Data Location
Online Locations
  1. International Fishery Conflict Database TH JS.xlsx (Data File, Public)
  2. International Fishery Conflict Database TH JS.ods (Data File, Public)
Stored At
(no information)
Spijkers, J. (2020): International Fishery Conflict Database. James Cook University. (dataset).
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):