Sustainable Fisheries

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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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Governance of Tenure in Small-Scale Fisheries: Key Considerations

June 1, 2011

This paper examines the recognition, development and reinforcement of tenure systems in small-scale fisheries, and the conditions for those tenure systems to be effective and fair. Good governance of tenure requires that rights to access fishery resources (use rights) and rights to be involved in fishery decision-making (management rights) are linked to social, economic and human rights. This leads to a modern and more comprehensive view of rights-based fisheries governance, recognizing not only the need for rights, but also the need for attention to the details of those rights, to avoid negative impacts. This paper explores (a) the links of fishery tenure systems to use rights, management rights and human rights; (b) the dynamics of tenure, including processes for determining who should hold the rights and recognition of pre-existing tenure arrangements; and (c) the roles of organizational capacity, legal space, and empowerment, together with the relationship of fishery tenure to the broader objectives of development policy, such as community well-being, food security and poverty alleviation.

Integrated Ocean Management and the Fisheries Sector: Interactions, Economic Tools and Governance Structures

March 1, 2011

This paper explores the various concepts and approaches to IOM (Integrated Ocean Management), together with the economic implications of these integrated governance approaches, and particularly the relationship between IOM and fisheries management. With regard to the latter, the paper addresses both the potential for synergies and the issues of overlap between multi-sectoral and single-sector planning and decision making.

Coastal Fisheries of South America and the Caribbean

January 1, 2011

The importance of fisheries for coastal communities and livelihoods in South America-Latin America; and the Caribbean (LAC) is well documented. This is particularly the case for 'coastal fisheries', including subsistence, traditional (artisanal) and advanced artisanal (or semi-industrial) varieties. There are, however, major gaps in knowledge about these fisheries, and major challenges in their assessment and management. Therein lies the key theme of this document, which seeks to contribute to a better understanding of coastal fisheries in the LAC region, as well as to generate discussion about ways to move towards sustainable fisheries. The document includes three main components. First, an introductory chapter provides an overview of general trends in the fisheries of the LAC countries, as well as some of the key challenges they are facing in terms of sustainability. Second, a set of twelve chapters each reporting on the coastal fisheries of one country in South America-Latin America; and the North America (Caribbean); collectively covering fisheries of each main subregion: the Caribbean islands (North America (Caribbean)-North America (Caribbean)-Barbados; Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago), North and Central America (North America (Central America)-Costa Rica; Mexico) and South America (Argentina, South America (Northeastern)-Brazil; South America (Northwestern)-South America (Northwestern)-Colombia; Uruguay). All these country-specific chapters follow an integrated approach, to the extent possible, covering aspects ranging from the biological to the socio-economic. Third, the final component of the document contains a synthesis of information from the countries examined, an analysis of the main issues and challenges faced by the various fisheries, an outline of policy directions to improve fisheries management systems in the LAC region, identification of routes toward more integrated approaches for coastal fisheries management, and recommendations for 'ways forward' in dealing with fishery assessment and governance issues in the region.

Good Practices in the Governance of Small-Scale Fisheries, with a Focus on Rights-Based Approaches

October 1, 2010

Climate change, operating through related physical changes (e.g. sea level, ocean temperature) has biological implications (e.g. changes in primary productivity) which in turn produce direct impacts on human uses of the ocean (e.g., fishing, tourism, ports) and broader induced impacts on human society (e.g., social, economic, community). In fisheries, the effects of climate change are bound to interact with the effects of fishing, in their cumulative impacts on fish stocks, and on human aspects of the fishery system. It is important to recognize that the overall approach to, and the specific components of, fisheries management will have major effects on this interaction. Accordingly, this paper explores two main considerations. First, socioeconomic and behavioural aspects of fisheries need to be monitored in the face of climate change, as these will likely have strong management and assessment implications. Second, the need to address the combination of climate change and fishing as forcing factors in fisheries reinforces the necessity for adopting a broad-based precautionaryapproach to management decision making, and for re-designing management systems so that their structure and methods are more robust and adaptive.

Integrated Management: A Coastal Community Perspective

January 1, 2010

This paper was prepared for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Regional Workshops on Small-Scale Fisheries "Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries: Bringing together responsible fisheries and social development". It presents a review of what are seen as 'good practices' globally in policy and governance of small-scale fisheries, with a particular focus on addressing rights-based issues, viewed broadly as incorporating fishery rights, other rights to natural resources, and rights and entitlements in relation to human, social and economic rights. It draws extensively on the 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and related technical guidelines, particularly those concerning small-scale fisheries and their roles in poverty alleviation and food security, and the human dimensions of the ecosystem approach to fisheries. The paper is also strongly informed by the papers prepared for and outcomes of the 2008 Global Conference on "Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries: Bringing together responsible fisheries and social development" and the relevant rights-oriented components of the 'Bangkok Statement' produced by the Civil Society Preparatory Workshop for the Global Conference. It also draws upon a set of research documents in the international literature focusing on small-scale fisheries and related policy issues [e.g., Allison et al. (2010), Charles (2009, 2011), McConney and Charles (2009); Kurien (2000, 2007)].

A Fishery Manager's Guidebook, Second Edition

June 1, 2009

A Fishery Managers' Guidebook was first published as an FAO Fisheries Technical Paper in 2002 to meet the need for information and guidance on the broad and often complex task of fisheries management. Based on subsequent experience and feedback gained from publication of the first edition, this new volume, has been expanded to provide broader coverage of the key elements of the task and updated in order to keep track of the rapid developments in theory and practice as academics and practitioners struggle to confront the many challenges facing modern fisheries management.

The Interaction of Fisheries and Climate Change: Socioeconomic and Management Perspectives

January 1, 2009

Modern-day discussions of fishery governance and management revolve around a number of key ingredients – the goals of sustainability and resilience, the widespread presence of uncertainty and complexity, the corresponding directions of a precautionary approach and an ecosystem approach, and implementation of these through avenues such as robust management. This paper explores the links among these many ingredients. In particular, robust management mechanisms aim for reasonable success in meeting societal objectives of sustainability and resilience, even given high levels of uncertainty, limited understanding of the fishery and an imperfect capability to control exploitation. This draws on both a precautionary approach and an ecosystem approach, in what is, in fact, a form of risk management: risk is reduced through design measures that shift fisheries to become more robust to the inherent structural uncertainty. Managing risk, through robust management, is a key element of fishery governance in the context of the emerging Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), and its joint pursuit of ecosystem health, sustainable resource use and human well-being.

Human Dimensions of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries: An Overview of Context, Concepts, Tools and Methods

August 13, 2008

This document aims to provide a better understanding of the role of the economic, institutional and sociocultural components within the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) process and to examine some potential methods and approaches that may facilitate the adoption of EAF management. It explores both the human context for the ecosystem approach to fisheries and the human dimensions involved in implementing the EAF. For the former, the report provides background material essential to understand prior to embarking on EAF initiatives, including an understanding of key concepts and issues, of the valuation of aquatic ecosystems socially, culturally and economically, and of the many policy, legal, institutional, social and economic considerations relevant to the EAF. With respect to facilitating EAF implementation, the report deals with a series of specific aspects: (1) determining the boundaries, scale and scope of the EAF; (2) assessing the various benefits and costs involved, seen from social, economic, ecological and management perspectives; (3) utilizing appropriate decision-making tools in EAF; (4) creating and/or adopting internal incentives and institutional arrangements to promote, facilitate and fund the adoption of EAF management; and (5) finding suitable external (non-fisheries) approaches for financing EAF implementation.

Robust Management, Risk and the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries

January 1, 2008

Biodiversity has not been a prominent consideration in conventional fishery management, even though biological concerns and the concept of "sustainability" are long-established in fisheries. This is because traditionally, the focus of management has been on determining the harvest of fish that can be taken as a "sustainable yield" and then restricting the catch of fish to within this limit. Typically missing from the analysis have been (1) interactions of fishing with the broader marine ecosystem, and (2) interactions of the fishery with the broader coastal economy and coastal communities. Accordingly, there is a need to move toward a "big picture" perspective, a "Fishery System Approach", in which fisheries are understood and managed in the context of marine ecosystems and coastal human systems, thereby addressing the needs of both biodiversity conservation and integrated management of multiple ocean uses. This paper elaborates on these themes, exploring the duality of the Ecosystem Approach and the Livelihood Approach as means to move toward sustainable, resilient fishery systems, ones in which biodiversity values can be more fully included.

Issues Arising on the Interface of MPAs and Fisheries Management

January 1, 2007

One of 6 background papers presented at The Expert Workshop on Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries Management: Review of Issues and Considerations held in Rome from June 12-14, 2006. The workshop was a response to the FAO Committee on Fisheries' call for technical guidelines for marine protected areas (MPAs) to assist Members to establish representative networks of MPAs by 2012, as agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. This paper focuses on three key themes. First, it highlights the commonalities between discussions of marine protected areas and of fisheries management, with emphasis on their mutual use of spatial measures and ecosystem approaches. Second, the paper draws on the other Background Papers prepared for the Workshop, as well as a range of additional literature, to produce a substantial compilation of issues and considerations relating to the development and implementation of MPAs, within a fisheries management context. The third key theme of the paper is a focus on the 'preliminary steps' of decision-making, in which scoping of needs, gaps and feasibility takes place from the dual perspectives of MPAs and fisheries management. A relative paucity of information and analysis on this topic is noted, along with a consequent need for additional work on the subject. An initial effort is undertaken to explore the key decision-making elements in this 'preliminary stage'.

Community Fisheries Management Handbook

January 1, 2006

This handbook is a unique product. It is the first "field guide" to community-based fisheries management focused specifically on fisheries, such as those of the Northwest Atlantic, that are already highly regulated by governmental authorities, with licensing and other requirements that limit access and effort. While a variety of resource materials are available on community-based natural resource management, almost all of these are written by practitioners working in the South (developing countries) and rely on case studies and techniques that have been tested in less industrialized tropical fisheries. Therefore, this handbook is one of the few publications about community-based management in 'Northern' fisheries.The need for this handbook was identified by participants working on an initiative on the Atlantic coast of Canada, "Turning the Tide: Communities Managing Fisheries Together" ( Turning the Tide works for improved fisheries management through community-based approaches, and through cooperative efforts among aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities. To that end, it has brought together fishermen and their communities to share information and ideas on community-based management, through events such as community forums and study tours. Participants recognized the need for a handbook on community-based fisheries management that is relevant to their own fisheries and that can be used as a tool to provide information and support for practitioners, as well as to document current practices and insights obtained, and to promote and raise public awareness about community-based fisheries management. The stories and insights in the handbook are those of Turning the Tide participants and their allies from around the Atlantic Region – the Atlantic coast of Canada and the north-eastern North America-United States – who shared this information during Turning the Tide activities, and in individual and group interviews, and who reviewed the materials used in producing this handbook. The various tools and ideas explored here are currently being applied in the region, and so the handbook demonstrates how community-based approaches to fisheries management are working today.

The Big Picture: A Fishery System Approach Links Fishery Management and Biodiversity

January 1, 2005

This article was published in the Proceedings of the sixth conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade. Successful fishery development can be defined as the simultaneous achievement of ecological, socioeconomic, community and institutional sustainability. This paper incorporates these sustainability elements within an integrated framework, which is applied in a case of Puerto Thiel, a fishing community in the Gulf of Nicoya on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast. The economic performance of the local fishing cooperative is analysed, and experiences with economic diversification are reviewed. We highlight the importance, especially in heavily exploited fisheries, of policies that simultaneously pursue development (to increase local socioeconomic and community fishery benefits within resource limitations) and economic diversification (to lessen the impact of fishery management restrictions by creating non-fishery employment alternatives).