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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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.

Managing Small-scale Fisheries: Alternative Directions and Methods

January 1, 2001

Human dependence on marine and coastal resources is increasing. Today, small-scale fisheries employ 50 of the world's 51 million fishers, practically all of whom are from developing countries. And together, they produce more than half of the world's annual marine fish catch of 98 million tonnes, supplying most of the fish consumed in the developing world. At the same time, increased fishery overexploitation and habitat degradation are threatening the Earth's coastal and marine resources. Most small-scale fisheries have not been well managed, if they have been managed at all. Existing approaches have failed to constrain fishing capacity or to manage conflict. They have not kept pace with technology or with the driving forces of economics, population growth, demand for food, and poverty. Worldwide, the management and governance of small-scale fisheries is in urgent need of reform. This publication looks beyond the scope of conventional fishery management to alternative concepts, tools, methods, and conservation strategies. There is, for example, broader emphasis on ecosystem management and participatory decision-making. Interested readers will include fishery managers, both governmental and nongovernmental; instructors and students in fishery management; development organizations and practitioners working on small-scale fisheries; and fishers and fishing communities that wish to take responsibility for managing their own resources.