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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Guidelines for Fisheries Co-managment

January 1, 2009

These guidelines for fisheries co-management are important steps towards building the technical capacity to manage capture fisheries and conserve aquatic biodiversity in Lao PDR. The guidelines are the result of collaboration between Department of Livestock and Fisheries and the WWF. The steps outlined in this book are based upon the field experience of these partners in the development and extension of fisheries co-management in Lao PDR. The guidelines will also be an important tool in the implementation of the Fisheries Law currently being drafted by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The steps for establishing participatory aquatic resources management outlined in this document describe how to organize and establish an official agreement on the local-level management of aquatic resources. Rather than offer strict guidelines, they should be seen as steps in a flexible process that encourages full participation of stakeholders, promotes local ownership, and meets the requirements for formal recognition of participatory aquatic resources management and authorization of the power to enforce village regulations. It is important to remember that the results of this process will be a set of rules intended to meet specific objectives and address problems identified by local stakeholders. Naturally it will be important to review these regulations on a regular basis (at least once every 3 years) to assess progress towards meeting the set objectives, as well as to identify new problems or challenges that may have emerged concerning the management and use of aquatic resources. These local management arrangements therefore, may need to be periodically revised based upon the results of regular review of current status and threats to the aquatic resources.

Lessons for Co-management: Experiences from the Fisheries Management Science Programme (FMSP)

November 5, 2006

The aim of this document is to communicate lessons for fisheries co-management that have emerged from a series of projects undertaken by the DFID Fisheries Management Science Programme (FMSP). It focuses on three examples of FMSP projects: ParFish, Adaptive learning and designing data collection systems. This document does not aim to give a comprehensive overview of co-management but seeks to provide a viewpoint based on the experiences of the FMSP projects in question. This document is targeted to fisheries decision makers, managers and facilitators including government, industry and non-governmental organisations.

Livelihood Approaches and Fisheries Management in the Lower Mekong Basin

July 1, 2006

Known as livelihood approaches, this new way of looking at fisheries management is becoming increasingly common, particularly with development agencies and other organisations. However, there is a perception that the concept of livelihoods and livelihood approaches is not well understood or taken-up by policymakers and fisheries managers. Recognising this, the technical advisory Body for Fisheries Management (TAB) commissioned the STREAM initiative to review previous studies that used livelihood approaches to evaluate fisheries and fishing communities in the Lower Mekong Basin. This information serves to illustrate the characteristics, benefits and practical use of livelihood approaches in fisheries management and development. STREAM also made a series of recommendations that would help the uptake and implementation of these approaches in the future.

Towards Sustainable Co-Management of Mekong River Inland Aquatic Resources, Including Fisheries, in Southern Lao PDR

April 1, 2000

This paper presents historical information regarding the development of the aquatic resource co-management system in Khong District, Champasak Province, Southern Lao PDF. Between 1993 and 1998, 63 villages in Khong District established co-management regulations to sustainably manage and conserve inland aquatic resources, including fisheries, in the Mekong River, streams, backwater wetlands, and rice paddy fields. Local government has endorsed these regulations, but villages have been given the mandate to choose what regulations to adopt based on local conditions and community consensus. Communities are also empowered to alter regulations in response to changing circumstances. Villagers have widely reported increased fish catches since the adoption of aquatic resource co-management regulations. Improved solidarity and coordination within and between rural fishing and farming villages has also been observed. While many of the lessons learned from the co-management experience in Khong are applicable to other parts of Laos and the region, unique conditions in different areas will require inventive approaches to meet local needs. Common property regimes can break down in crisis, but experience in Khong indicates that they can also be strengthened in response to resource management crisis.