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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Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security: Integrated Approaches to Addressing Multiple Challenges in the Coral Triangle

July 1, 2013

The Coral Triangle is the most biologically and economically valuable marine ecosystem on the planet. Covering just three percent of the globe, the region represents more than half of the world's reefs and boasts 76 percent of its known coral species. Sustaining more than 130 million people who rely directly on the marine ecosystems for their livelihoods and food, the marine habitats of the Coral Triangle contribute billions of dollars each year toward the economies of the region.Although the environmental imperative for preserving this area of incredible value and biodiversity is obvious, the growing pressures and threats from widespread poverty, rapid development, and global demands continue to place enormous strain on the natural marine resources of the Coral Triangle.

Coming Together: Sharing Lessons from the 2008 LMMA Network-wide Meeting Community Exchange 5-7 November 2008, Fiji

February 4, 2011

The Community Storybook is a collection of lessons, tips and experiences shared during the Community Exchange session at the 2008 LMMA Network-wide Meeting in Fiji. It is not intended as a comprehensive guide for community-based adaptive management (CBAM), but rather as a record capturing the key points from conversations shared by participants. It is intenteded to be strateigically introduced to communities -- that is, as part of a workshop or community awareness event, rather then simply handed out indiscriminately. We recommend to the folks on the ground who are introducing it (partners, country coordinators, etc.) to leave ample time for elaboration and discussion of the tips provided in the storybook, particularly the more sensitive or debatable ones.

A Community-Based Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management: Guidelines for Pacific Islands Countries

January 1, 2010

These guidelines have been developed to meet the aspirations of Pacific Island countries (PIC) as stated in the Pacific Islands regional coastal fisheries management policy and strategic actions (known as the Apia Policy) in which authorities agreed to take steps to achieve healthy ecosystems and sustainable stock of fish. These guidelines have been produced to describe how an EAF can be merged with community-based fisheries management (CBFM) in PICs. This merger of approaches is referred to in these guidelines as the community-based ecosystem approach to fisheries management (CEAFM), and represents a combination of three different perspectives; namely, fisher-es management, ecosystem management and community-based management. CEAFM is the management of fisheries, within an ecosystem context, by local communities working with government and other partners. The main requirement for such a merger is the involvement of a broader range of stakeholders and access to the expertise and experience of several government agencies in addition to a fisheries agency. CEAFM is not seen as a replacement for current fisheries management but an extension that combines a high degree of community and other stakeholder participation to minimise the impacts of fishing and other activities on ecosystems. In addition to fishing activities, coastal ecosystems in many PICs are affected by excessive shoreline development and by coastal waters that contain high levels of nutrients and silt. CEAFM aims to involve the participation of community stakeholders to ensure that future generations of Pacific Island people will continue to have access to the benefits associated with sustainable fisheries and healthy ecosystems.

Comparison of Approaches to Management of Large Marine Areas

January 1, 2010

In order to learn more about the different approaches to managing large-scale marine areas, their comparative merits, and the synergies and overlaps between them, Conservation International (CI) commissioned this independent analysis of several widely applied models. Since 2004, CI, together with a multitude of partners, has been developing the Seascapes model to manage large, multiple-use marine areas in which government authorities, private organizations, and other stakeholders cooperate to conserve the diversity and abundance of marine life and to promote human well-being. The definition of the Seascapes approach and the identification of the essential elements of a functioning Seascape were built from the ground up, informed by the extensive field experience of numerous marine management practitioners. Although the report was commissioned by CI, the views expressed in this report are those of the authors; they were charged with providing a critical examination of all the assessed approaches, including the Seascapes approach. This analysis provides a comprehensive understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. This will help us -- and, we hope, other readers -- to identify ways to work together to achieve even greater results through synergistic efforts.

Creating Legal Space for Community-based Fisheries and Customary Marine Tenure in the Pacific: Issues and Opportunities

January 1, 2004

The legal environment within which community-based fisheries management (CBFM) will function should be examined to determine whether it supports or will need necessary enhancement to support the implementation of CBFM. The question as to whether CBFM is legally sustainable must be asked with regard to the whole legal framework of the State – from fundamental laws, such as the constitution, to subsidiary legislation. Amendments to existing legislation or new legislation may be necessary to implement CBFM. There is no blueprint for a CBFM legal framework what number of rights with respect to fish resources should be accorded and what should be the level of participation by the local community. It is important, however, to ensure that the constitutionality of all these aspects is ascertained, and to ensure that enabling legislation for CBFM consider the following issues: security, exclusivity and permanence of rights vested; flexibility of its provisions so as to allow states to exercise choices that reflect their unique needs, conditions and aspirations for CBFM; and the way CBFM harmonizes with the overall fisheries management legal framework. Attaining the right balance in the CBFM legal framework, however, is difficult and depends largely on local circumstances. There is much interest in using customary marine tenure (CMT) as a basis for CBFM in the Pacific Island Countries (PICs). The laws of PICs lend general support to the use of CMT or tradition in fisheries management. Still, only modest efforts in the use of CMT-based community fisheries management in the PICs are observed. Further legislative action can enhance CMT use in community fisheries management. Broad lessons can be drawn from the experiences of some PICs in legislating on CMT or certain of its aspects to enhance CMT use. Government commitment to CBFM generally, and for the role of CMT in the CBFM context with support from interested entities and stakeholders including communities, will complement efforts for promoting sustainable utilization of fisheries resources and improved livelihoods in the PICs. Keywords: community-based fisheries management, customary marine tenure, fisheries legislation, legal frameworks, Pacific Island Countries.