Sustainable Fisheries

Special Collection

Worldwide, small-scale coastal fisheries contribute significantly to providing food, employment, and incomes to many very poor people. But these same fisheries, and the ecosystems upon which they rely, are under increasing threat from a combination of climate change, pollution, over-fishing, and the exploitation of resources.


Fisheries management has been a major component in trying to address some of these issues, but with limited global success. The potential of fisheries, if managed well, is considerable but what form that potential will take will depend on how and why fisheries are managed.


This collection of reports and presentations explores just this question, describing some of the challenges faced by small-scale fisheries worldwide and their efforts to address these challenges and improve the health and well-being of the people who are dependent on these threatened environments.


The collection brings together the "grey literature" of the field, valuable work that is not readily available through academic journals and databases but is instead spread across dozens of organizational websites. This set of reports was initially identified as part of a synthesis review of key lessons commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation's Program on Oceans and Fisheries. We are pleased to make it more easily available for others to use and build on and encourage researchers and practitioners to add relevant work to the collection.

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Key Factors Supporting Small-Scale Coastal Fisheries Management

April 15, 2014

This synthesis was designed to provide an evidence base on the success factors in small-scale coastal fisheries management in developing countries and, in turn, to assist the Rockefeller Foundation in developing its strategy for its Oceans and Fisheries Initiative. In doing so, it identifies and describes some 20 key factors believed to influence success in small-scale coastal fisheries management. The report was completed via a rapid review of key sources of knowledge from formal published literature, institutional literature, key informants and Internet searches. The focus was on key success factors in achieving a balance of social, economic and ecological benefits from the management of small-scale coastal fisheries. A summary of these success factors can also be explored via an interactive visualization that accompanies this report.

Funding for Small-scale Fisheries A Landscape Overview

October 31, 2016

This report examines support for small-scale fishery projects, and provides an overview of Rare's Fish Forever initiative.Key findings include:Funding from Foundations-Between 2007 to 2015, we identified $91 million in grants directed towards small-scale fishing (SSF) projects. An additional $136 million in grants was directed towards projects that may be relevant for small-scale fisheries, but it is not clear from the grant description –most of these grants are for marine protected areas. In sum, this is ~$10-$23 million per year in grants to projects that are potentially relevant for SSF.-Approximately 0.5% of all foundation grantmaking goes to marine conservation, and  we estimate that between 5-12% of that is directed to SSF relevant projects.Funding from DFI's-Based on a review of the funding of seven major DFIs (World Bank, GEF, IADB, ADB, KfW, AfDB, and CAF) from 2000-2016, we identified $1.825 billion of investment in SSF related projects. An additional $4.351 billion was invested in projects that may be relevant for small-scale fisheries (e.g., coastal zone management). In sum this amounts to  ~$107-$363 million per year of funding from these DFIs for projects that are potentially relevant for SSF.-SSF related projects made up less than 0.5%on average of the DFI's portfolios.

Financing, Funding, and Investment

Collaboration for Small-Scale Fisheries Reform. Lessons in Collective Impact for Systemic Change

February 23, 2016

As a worldwide collaboration of NGOs, businesses, funders, and governments, 50in10 aimed to help its partners take promising tools and approaches in small-scale fisheries restoration to the next level by testing, strengthening, and replicating them. In January 2016, 50in10 brought together three dozen 50in10 network members and stakeholders in Belize City to learn from one another, explore financing models, innovate new approaches, and discuss how network members could continue to replicate successes. The framework of the 50in10 Theory of Change—a collective impact approach in which community empowerment, policy reform, credible science, and market demand work together—as well as collaborative learning guided the convening. Participants prioritized sustainable financing, community engagement, scientific data, and enforcement and compliance as key areas in which innovation is needed to overcome obstacles to reform, and developed ideas for how to address these challenges.

The Mariscos Strategy : An Investment Blueprint for Small-Scale Fisheries in Chile

January 11, 2016

Encourage Capital has worked with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Rockefeller Foundation to develop an impact investing strategy supporting the implementation of sustainable fishing improvements in a portfolio of small-scale, multispecies fisheries in Chile. The Mariscos Strategy is a hypothetical $7.0 million impact investment to protect seven small-scale fisheries along the Chilean coastline. The $7.0 million would fund the implementation of fisheries management improvements across the fisheries, and be used to expand an existing consumer packaged goods company producing gourmet "heat-and-eat" meals for Latin American consumers. The Mariscos Strategy is focused on generating an 11.1% base case equity return, while simultaneously protecting the multispecies stock biomass from current and future overfishing, enhancing almost 550 fisher livelihoods across seven fishing communities, and safeguarding the supply of over 5 million meals-to-market annually.

The Mangue Strategy : An Investment Blueprint for Small-Scale Fisheries in Brazil

January 11, 2016

Encourage Capital has worked with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Rockefeller Foundation to develop an impact investing strategy supporting the implementation of sustainable management and extraction practices in a small-scale fishery in Brazil. The Mangue Strategy (Mangue) is a hypothetical $15 million impact investment to protect the mangrove crab (Ucides cordatus) fishery in the Brazilian state of Pará. This $15 million investment would fund the implementation of critical management improvements across the fishery, and be used to launch a crab export business with a network of buying stations and a modern processing facility designed to meet both domestic and international food safety standards. The Mangue Strategy has the potential to generate a 12.0% levered equity return while protecting the mangrove crab stock biomass from current and future overfishing, enhancing up to 1,300 fisher livelihoods across 10 extractive reserves (RESEXs), and providing an additional 2.4 million seafood meals to market annually by Year 9. Additionally, the strategy would support the sustainable management of up to 300,000 hectares of critical coastal mangrove forest within the Amazon Delta, protecting and capturing the economic and ecosystem services of this delicate ecosystem.

The Isda Strategy : An Investment Blueprint for Small-Scale Fisheries in the Philippines

January 11, 2016

Encourage Capital has worked with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Rockefeller Foundation to develop an impact investing strategy supporting the implementation of sustainable fishing practices in a portfolio of small-scale fisheries in the Philippines. The Isda Strategy1 is a hypothetical $11.7 million impact investment to protect and restore small-scale fisheries spanning 80 communities across the Philippine archipelago and at least 20 species. The $11.7 million would fund the implementation of fisheries management improvements across both pelagic and nearshore fisheries, and be used to expand a seafood processing and distribution company producing premium seafood products, sourced from small-scale fishers, for both domestic and export markets. The Isda Strategy has the potential to generate a 20.7% base case equity return, while simultaneously protecting the multispecies stock biomass from current and future overfishing, enhancing the livelihoods of up to 19,000 fishers across 80 fishing communities, and safeguarding the supply of 6.7 million meals-to-market annually.

Gender and Change in the Spotlight: Report on the 4th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries

July 16, 2013

Fishery changes, caused by modernization and mechanization, globalization and environmental disasters, shift the working spaces, continually destroy and create jobs and livelihoods, and bring greater overlaps in women's and men's roles in the household, factory and market place. This report puts the spotlight on key results and discussion presented at GAF4 (4th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries) from May 1-3, 2013 in Seoul, Korea. 28 oral presentations, one poster and four mini-workshops/panels were given. The report highlights four major threads of GAF4: (1) the gendered impacts of fishery sector change, (2) gender assets and roles, (3) challenges and tools to meet future needs, and (3) the road to mobilization to achieve gender equality in aquaculture and fisheries. Out of these threads, researchers and grass roots representatives will conclude that they need to suspend pre-conceived ideas about gender roles and relationships because many of these are in flux. Researchers need to develop further and make better use of rigorous qualitative social science research methods. Through their participatory nature and to ensure ethical approaches, such methods will bring researchers and grassroots participants closer, which is an essential step in mobilizing support for gender equality.

Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security: Integrated Approaches to Addressing Multiple Challenges in the Coral Triangle

July 1, 2013

The Coral Triangle is the most biologically and economically valuable marine ecosystem on the planet. Covering just three percent of the globe, the region represents more than half of the world's reefs and boasts 76 percent of its known coral species. Sustaining more than 130 million people who rely directly on the marine ecosystems for their livelihoods and food, the marine habitats of the Coral Triangle contribute billions of dollars each year toward the economies of the region.Although the environmental imperative for preserving this area of incredible value and biodiversity is obvious, the growing pressures and threats from widespread poverty, rapid development, and global demands continue to place enormous strain on the natural marine resources of the Coral Triangle.

Impact Evaluation of GEF/UNDP Support to Protected Areas and Protected Area Systems

June 27, 2013

This evaluation will assess the impact of GEF/UNDP investments in terrestrial protected areas and protected area systems, especially seeking evidence from countries or landscapes where the supported areas can be compared with those lacking such support, or receiving other types of intervention. This evaluation will understand by impact as the positive and negative, primary and secondary long-term effects produced by a development intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended. The evaluation will analyse how different management and governance approaches, in particular the extent of community engagement, impact on the achievement of GEF objectives in protected areas. The evaluation seeks to provide insights into how future interventions and support can best contribute to the sustainable management of protected areas as a contribution to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. It will also assess the extent to which support has promoted human well-being as a necessary condition for the effective management of protected areas and immediately adjacent landscapes, and the factors and conditions affecting the interaction between human livelihood objectives and biodiversity objectives.

Fisheries and Aquaculture and Their Potential Roles in Development: An Assessment of the Current Evidence

June 15, 2013

Commissioned by the International Sustainability Unity, this report investigates a number of innovative solutions that have been developed to deal with five key challenges that are impeding progress in achieving sustainable fisheries: overcapacity; perverse subsidies; poor governance; lack of data; and by-catch and discards. These key challenges are interlinked and affect the sustainability of fisheries both directly as well as indirectly by undermining instances of good management. Through 22 case studies demonstrating good practice, we explore how these challenges have been addressed around the world and how these approaches might be scaled up and applied in other fisheries. Each case study draws on published material and interviews with key people involved in the fishery. The main report draws lessons from these case studies.

Regional Study on Social Dimensions of MPA Practice in Central America: Cases Studies from Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panamá

March 1, 2013

This research focuses on the social dimensions of marine conservation, and makes an assessment of the experiences of coastal and fishing communities with regard to the governance of MPAs in North America (Central America); based on case studies from Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and North America (Central America)-Panama;. It examines the national contexts of the above countries in relation to the governance of MPAs. Furthermore, it analyzes the social impacts of MPAs on coastal communities by gathering the experiences and the voices of the communities and institutions involved, and reflects on how to build bridges in the search for forms and models of conservation that respect human rights and which are able to successfully integrate into local development efforts without affecting cultural and/or social patterns. To this end, this monograph looks at nine case studies across the region: in Honduras, the Islas de la Bahia-Guanaja Marine National Park, the Cayos Cochinos Marine Archipelago Natural Monument, and the Cuero and Salado Wildlife Refuge; in Nicaragua, the Chacocente Wildlife Refuge; in North America (Central America)-Costa Rica; the Guanacaste Conservation Area, the Ballena Marine National Park and the Golfo Dulce Responsible Fishing Area; and, in North America (Central America)-North America (Central America)-Panama; the Nargana Protected Area, in the Comarca de la Biosfera Guna-Yala, the Bastimentos Island Marine National Park, and Bocas del Toro.

Ecosystem Approach to Small Scale Tropical Marine Fisheries

January 1, 2013

This is a 4-page brochure about a WorldFish led project. Throughout the world, poor fisheries management contributes to resource degradation, poverty, and food insecurity. This European Union project on an Ecosystem Approach to Small-scale Tropical Marine Fisheries is led by WorldFish and implemented in collaboration with national partners in Asia (Southeastern)-Indonesia; the Asia (Southeastern)-Philippines; the Solomon Islands and Tanzania. The overall objective is to use an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) to improve governance of small-scale fisheries (SSF). The EAFM puts sustainability and equitability at the forefront of fisheries governance which enhances their contribution to poverty reduction.Specific objectives are to: 1. Assess existing institutional arrangements and identify opportunities for an EAFM to improve integrated SSF management; 2. Develop EAFM strategies and actions suitable for developing country contexts; 3. Strengthen the capacity of local fishery stakeholders and government agencies to collaborate and work within an EAFM. The project is taking a participatory and gender sensitive approach, both core philosophies of WorldFish. Representatives of all relevant stakeholder groups are involved in this action research project.