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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Fisheries Stakeholders and Their Livelihoods in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

December 1, 2011

Fisheries Management for Sustainable Livelihoods (FIMSUL), is a project implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the Government of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in India under the World Bank Trust Fund. The project aims at establishing frameworks, processes and building capacities of various stakeholders especially the Government, to facilitate the planning, design and implementation of appropriate fisheries development and management policies. The project includes a series of stakeholder consultations and consensus building apart from detailed review and analysis in the areas of stakeholders, livelihoods, policy, legal and institutional frame work and fisheries management. Based on this, the project comes up with various options. Stakeholder and livelihoods analysis is an essential part of the project. Hence, the team developed a detailed methodology for stakeholder consultations which includes district level stake holder consultation, focus group discussions, household interviews and validation meetings. The stakeholder and livelihoods analysis following the above steps were done through six NGO partners working along the coast of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry who were initially trained on the methodology. The NGO partners : PLANT, GUIDE, FERAL, SIFFS, DHAN Foundation and TMSSS, especially a team of dedicated staff engaged by them had done an excellent work in completing comprehensive field exercises and bringing out 12 district/regional reports. These are published separately. This report is a compilation, and complete analysis of the stakeholders and livelihoods based on all the field level consultations.This report is expected to be an important reference to primary stakeholders' perspective of the important stakeholders in the sector, the livelihoods and livelihoods changes, the adaptive and coping mechanism, the relationships between the stakeholders and their hopes and aspirations. For any development intervention for any sector or stakeholder group, region-wise in marine fisheries in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, the information from this report could be an important starting point.

Marine Protected Areas: Country Case Studies on Policy, Governance and Institutional Issues

January 1, 2011

This document presents case studies of the policy, governance and institutional issues of marine protected areas (MPAs) in South America (Northeastern)-Brazil; India, Palau and Senegal. It is the first of four in a global series of case studies on MPAs. An initial volume provides a synthesis and analysis of all the studies. The set of global MPA case studies was designed to close a deficit in information on the governance of MPAs and spatial management tools, within both fisheries management and biodiversity conservation contexts. The studies examine governance opportunities in and constraints on the use of spatial management measures at the national level. They were also designed to inform implementation of the FAO Technical Guidelines on marine protected areas (MPAs) and fisheries, which were developed to provide information and guidance on the use of MPAs in the context of fisheries.

Success Stories in Asian Aquaculture

January 1, 2009

The stories presented in this book reflect the unique nature of Asian aquaculture, providing first-time insight into how and why it has become so successful. Overall, the book demonstrates how the resiliency, adaptability, and innovation of small-scale aquaculture farmers have been crucial to this success. It also places aquaculture development in Asia into a wider global context, and describes its relationship to natural systems, social conditions, and economics. The book is unique in its in-depth presentation of primary research on Asian aquaculture, and in demonstrating how aquaculture can have a lasting positive impact on livelihoods, food security, and sustainable development.

Assessing Opportunities for Livelihood Enhancement and Diversification in Coastal Fishing Communities of Southern India

January 6, 2008

"The United Nations Team for Tsunami Recovery Support (UNTRS) based in Chennai,India, is facilitating the process of tsunami recovery in the region through specific interventions in strategic areas. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations (FAO) as a part of the UNTRS team aims to set clear directions to ensure sustainable livelihoods for fishers. It has a pro-poor focus. With the fisheries sector suffering from both over-capitalization and resource depletion, the livelihoods of poor fishers and fisherfolk communities have been badly hit, and the tsunami has aggravated their misery. While relief measures have helped, what's essential for the long term is to improve livelihood opportunities. They need to be enhanced and diversified. Many development interventions have been attempted. But what's needed is a viable people-centric approach that taps the strengths of coastal fisheries and draws on them. Hence this study on ""Assessing opportunities for livelihood enhancement and diversification in coastal fishing communities of southern India."" carried out by Integrated Coastal Management, Kakinada. The study covers tsunami-affected areas in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The study has analysed a number of inherent strategies of the fishers to enhance and diversify livelihoods, both past and present. It has come out with a planning framework for livelihoods enhancement and diversification. Stakeholders in fisheries can make use of the framework, validate its usefulness, and decide and further develop appropriate tool box. They may then spell out the support and co-operation necessary from other stakeholders."

Sustainable Livelihoods Enhancement and Diversification (SLED): A Manual for Practitioners

January 1, 2008

The aim of this document is to provide development practitioners with an introduction to the SLED process as well as guidance for practitioners facilitating that process. The Sustainable Livelihoods Enhancement and Diversification (SLED) approach has been developed by Integrated Marine Management Ltd (IMM) through building on the lessons of past livelihoods research projects as well as worldwide experience in livelihood improvement and participatory development practice. It aims to provide a set of guidelines for development and conservation practitioners whose task it is to assist people in enhancing and diversifying their livelihoods. Under the Coral Reefs and Livelihoods Initiative (CORALI), this approach has been field tested and further developed in very different circumstances and institutional settings, in six sites across South Asia and Indonesia. While this process of testing and refining SLED has been carried out specifically in the context of efforts to manage coastal and marine resources, it is an approach that can be applied widely wherever natural resources are facing degradation because of unsustainable human use. The SLED approach provides a framework within which diverse local contexts and the local complexities of livelihood change can be accommodated.

Fisheries Policy Content and Direction in Asian APFIC Member Countries

January 1, 2006

This review by the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) examines the trends in fisheries and aquaculture policy in selected countries in Asia. The analysis is based on national policy documents and relevant literature as well as feedback from fisheries officials/experts in the region. The review assesses the policy status and trends relating to the use of development and/or management targets, natural resource management issues, financial, economic and marketing issues, and socio-economic and poverty issues. Individual country information was analysed to generate a regional synthesis of fisheries and aquaculture policy content and direction in the region, and the key drivers for change. The review highlights the differences in fisheries and aquaculture policy between countries and also reveals a surprising degree of similarity between main policy directions and strategies used to manage the sector. Many governments have initiated recent policy changes, often as a result of awareness about international views, policy changes/norms in other countries, and emerging ideas about what constitutes "best practice". In some cases donor projects and assistance have also been an important catalyst for policy change. The regional review suggests that much policy in the region is already well specified and that, while countries could certainly improve their policy content, greater challenges may lie in implementing policy rather than in improving policy itself.

Policy and Legislative Frameworks for Co-management

January 1, 2005

This paper was prepared by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd and the FAO Development Law Service (LEGN) for the Asia-Pacific Fisheries Commission workshop on Mainstreaming Fisheries Co-management in Asia-Pacific, which was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from 9 to 12 August 2005. The paper examines the policy and legislative frameworks for co-management in thirteen countries in Asia and the Pacific, and the extent to which these frameworks hinder or support co-management practices. Through an analysis of the different case studies, 'lessons learned' are presented and a number of conclusions are drawn about the key characteristics of a supportive policy and legislative framework based on some ideas about 'best practice'. The adoption of these characteristics by governments would demonstrate their commitment to co-management and increase the likelihood of co-management success.

Changing Fish Utilisation and Its Impact on Poverty in India: Major Trends in the Utilisation of Fish in India and Their Impact on the Poor

December 1, 2001

This publication is an output from a research project (R7999) funded by the United Kingdom DFID Post-Harvest Fisheries Research Programme Project for the benefit of developing countries. The project was called: Changing Fish Utilisation and Its Impact on Poverty in India. The project aims to develop policy guidance to increase the positive impact of improved post-harvest utilisation of fish on the lives of poor processors, traders and consumers in India. Throughout this report the project is referred to as the IFU project.

A Study of DFID's Support for Post-Cyclone Livelihoods Rehabilitation In Orissa, India

March 1, 2001

The recent UK Government Foresight Project on Global Food and Farming Futures recognises the intensifying pressure on the world's food system that we can expect in the next 40 years. Meeting the challenges these pressures present will require concerted effort by many research communities, among them those that focus on fisheries. In recent years there has been a growth in research pointing to the importance and potential of fisheries in a development and food security context. As a major source of animal protein, especially for poor consumers in developing countries, securing and making the most of the world's fisheries remains an important priority (Béné et al., 2007; World Bank/FAO/WorldFish, 2010). In parallel, after a period of disillusionment following the failures of investments in fisheries projects in the 1970s and 80s (Cunninghamet al., 2009; NFDS, 2009), interest in supporting this sector through foreign aid is returning. Not surprisingly, this resurgence of interest aligns with the renewed focus on agriculture and food security, following relative neglect in the 1990s (World Bank, 2008). With increasing interest in investing development aid in fisheries, it is legitimate to ask what recent research has to offer by way of guidance. In this short paper we summarise the potential significance of several emerging areas of fisheries research and management for helping secure and enhance fish supplies from wild harvesting in support of food security in the developing world. Our focus is on small-scale fisheries, for reasons summarised below, these fisheries present a critical frontier in the challenge to increase the contribution of fish to poverty reduction and sustainable development.We have selected four areas –loosely titled 'Small-scale fisheries' (highlighting gender and inland fisheries), 'Governance reform', 'Resilience in practice' and 'External drivers'. Although more conventional fisheries topics such as effort reduction, fish stock sustainability and gear technology remain important, we feel these other broad areas of inquiry offer particular promise for supporting development efforts. Our intention is to provide readers with a short accessible introduction to these topics and to provide entry points to some of the recent literature.