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.

Ecosystem Approach to Small Scale Tropical Marine Fisheries

January 1, 2013

This is a 4-page brochure about a WorldFish led project. Throughout the world, poor fisheries management contributes to resource degradation, poverty, and food insecurity. This European Union project on an Ecosystem Approach to Small-scale Tropical Marine Fisheries is led by WorldFish and implemented in collaboration with national partners in Asia (Southeastern)-Indonesia; the Asia (Southeastern)-Philippines; the Solomon Islands and Tanzania. The overall objective is to use an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) to improve governance of small-scale fisheries (SSF). The EAFM puts sustainability and equitability at the forefront of fisheries governance which enhances their contribution to poverty reduction.Specific objectives are to: 1. Assess existing institutional arrangements and identify opportunities for an EAFM to improve integrated SSF management; 2. Develop EAFM strategies and actions suitable for developing country contexts; 3. Strengthen the capacity of local fishery stakeholders and government agencies to collaborate and work within an EAFM. The project is taking a participatory and gender sensitive approach, both core philosophies of WorldFish. Representatives of all relevant stakeholder groups are involved in this action research project.

Principles for Best Practice For Community-Based Resource Management (CBRM) In Solomon Islands

February 1, 2012

This report is found on pgs173-208 of the FAO publication "Socio-economic indicators in integrated coastal zone and community-based fisheries management. Case studies from the Caribbean". During the fiscal year 2002/03, the CRFM Secretariat requested FAO's assistance in undertaking a study on the use of socio-economic and demographic indicators in integrated coastal area management and fisheries management in the CARICOM region. The study involved three main components. Firstly, country specific case studies to be undertaken in selected Caribbean countries, namely, North America (Central America)-Belize; Dominica, North America (Caribbean)-Jamaica; St. Lucia, North America (Caribbean)-North America (Caribbean)-Barbados; Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caiços Islands. These were aimed at documenting past and current initiatives in the CARICOM region, in which socio-economic and demographic indicators were used in integrated coastal and fisheries management, and also to identify ways and means of incorporating such information in on-going coastal zone and fisheries management programmes. The second component was a comparative study on the use of socio-economic and demographic indicators in coastal management and fisheries management in the Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia and the Asia (Southeastern)-Philippines; which are more advanced in this respect, in order to learn from their experiences. The third component was a regional workshop to present, discuss and refine the country specific and comparative studies, by obtaining input from all the CARICOM countries, and to make recommendations for follow-up actions to improve integrated management of coastal resources, through, inter alia, incorporating the use of socio-economic and demographic indicators in the planning and decision-making process, improving the standard of living of fishing communities, and, promoting sustainable development. This report summarizes the studies, presentations, and lessons learned from the overall project presented at the regional workshop.

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.

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.

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.