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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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.

Cross-node Socioeconomic and Governance Assessments of MMAs

April 14, 2011

This report is concerned with the socioeconomic and governance dimension of Marine Managed Areas (MMAs), targeting key issues that still impede the design and implementation of MMAs. It looks into the objectives of the MMAs and which types of MMAs were effective at meeting their objectives. It evaluates how socio-economic (e.g., demographics) and governance (e.g. institutional frameworks and processes) characteristics impact on management effectiveness of MMAs (e.g. are wealthy communities correlated with more or less successful MMAs?). In general, this study assesses the social, economic and governance conditions of MMAs in North America (Central America)-Belize; South America (Northeastern)-Brazil; Oceania-Fiji; South America (Northwestern)-Ecuador; and North America (Central America)-Panama; in terms of their impact on factors such as economic development, quality of life, livelihoods, environmental awareness, stakeholder participation, and policy enforcement. The results will substantially contribute to the design and implementation of other socio-economic studies as well as to the employment of more effective MMA management practices in five countries and globally.

Baseline Review of the Status and Management of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster Fisheries in the Caricom Region

January 1, 2011

This report provides a review of the status and management of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster Fisheries in the CARICOM region. It provides a general overview of the habitat requirements and threats to survival of this lobster, along with the distribution and population in each country with Caribbean Spiny Lobster Fisheries. Each country's domestic use, international trade, and conservation and management measures are also reviewed.

Global Management Effectiveness Study: Integrated Social and Ecological Report for Non-node and Node Sites

April 1, 2010

The purpose of this study is to provide a critical assessment of the implementation, impact, and performance of Marine Managed Area (MMA) projects to serve as a basis for improved planning and implementation of new MMA projects worldwide. The specific objectives of the study are (1) to determine the socioeconomic, governance and ecological effects of MMAs; (2) to determine the critical factors influencing MMA effects, as well as the impact of the timing of those factors on the effects of the MMA; and (3) to provide tools for predicting MMA effects based on ecological, socioeconomic and governance variable.

Fishery Co-management: A Practical Handbook

January 1, 2006

For many years, Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has maintained an active portfolio of projects examining co-management and community-based management in fisheries and other resource systems. Since the publication of Managing Small-scale Fisheries (Berkes et al., 2001), there has been an increasing demand for guidance on what IDRC has learned about co-management, particularly across different geographical settings, socio-economic conditions, and histories of operation; and how it could apply to other types of fishing, link to other livelihoods, relate to other dynamic processes (such as the migration of fishermen), and respond to the seasonal nature of fish resources. This book attempts to respond to this demand by compiling recent experience from as wide a cross section of research as possible. During the development of this book, both IDRC and the authors wrestled with the concept of co-management. Given the evolving nature of this science, for example, what does co-management cover and how widely is the concept accepted? Importantly, there has been increasing acceptance of the idea that co-management is not an end point but rather a process -- a process of adaptive learning. Recognizing the diversity of both local contexts (ecological and social) and factors depleting the fishery (such as overfishing and habitat destruction), however, would it even be possible to put together a book of lessons learned? As you will soon discover, IDRC and the authors felt that it was neither possible nor desirable to produce a blueprint for fishery co-management. Rather, we agreed that it would be more useful to document the co-management process, as undertaken by both IDRC partners and others, and to put this experience into a form that could be shared with anyone interested in learning more about co-management and what others have learned. This shared and adaptive approach to learning is what this book is all about. In the pages that follow, you will find a complete picture of the co-management process: strengths, weaknesses, methods, activities, checklists and so on.

Report of the FAO/CRFM/MALMR Regional Workshop on the Collection of Demographic Information on Coastal Fishing Communities and its Use in Community-Based Fisheries and Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Caribbean

July 28, 2005

One part of the two-part Science-to-Action Guidebook. The other part was intended for scientists, and this part is for decision-makers. Recognizing the importance of informed decisions and the differences between the scientific and decision-making processes, this guidebook provides practical tips on how to best bring these worlds together. In doing so, this guidebook emphasizes the roles of facilitating, synthesizing, translating, and communicating science to inform conservation action. It is geared toward the perspective of decision-makers working in tropical developing nations and focusing on marine resource management issues. However, the concepts are applicable to a broad range of scientists and decision-makers worldwide.

Past and Current Methods of Community Base Coastal Resources Management in the Southern Coast of Belize

September 1, 2001

The main problem definition of this study is the need to generate community-based management of coastal resources for the benefit of the small man and woman in the South Coast of Belize in opposition to the large scale and multinationally controlled shrimp aquaculture and banana agro-processing that have taken control of the area within the past two decades. So far the avenues for small-scale development which unlike large-scale investment, filter throughout the community, are artisanal fishery and tourism using the bountiful maritime, coastal, and riverine resources. By focusing on community-based coastal resource management in the past and present, the aim of the study is to show that there had been such a tradition in the past and that its review can help in re-introducing it at this time. In uncovering its data, the study used oral history, ethnography, and varied efforts of a collaborating NGO Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment (TIDE) in natural sciences data collection and community mobilization. Briefly the approach is that with negligible use of history, aesthetics, and cosmology, the community should work together to help diversify the national economy, conserve fishery, and maintain welcoming social structures for tourists visiting the marine protected areas.