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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Key Factors Supporting Small-Scale Coastal Fisheries Management

April 15, 2014

This synthesis was designed to provide an evidence base on the success factors in small-scale coastal fisheries management in developing countries and, in turn, to assist the Rockefeller Foundation in developing its strategy for its Oceans and Fisheries Initiative. In doing so, it identifies and describes some 20 key factors believed to influence success in small-scale coastal fisheries management. The report was completed via a rapid review of key sources of knowledge from formal published literature, institutional literature, key informants and Internet searches. The focus was on key success factors in achieving a balance of social, economic and ecological benefits from the management of small-scale coastal fisheries. A summary of these success factors can also be explored via an interactive visualization that accompanies this report.

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

Gender and Change in the Spotlight: Report on the 4th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries

July 16, 2013

Fishery changes, caused by modernization and mechanization, globalization and environmental disasters, shift the working spaces, continually destroy and create jobs and livelihoods, and bring greater overlaps in women's and men's roles in the household, factory and market place. This report puts the spotlight on key results and discussion presented at GAF4 (4th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries) from May 1-3, 2013 in Seoul, Korea. 28 oral presentations, one poster and four mini-workshops/panels were given. The report highlights four major threads of GAF4: (1) the gendered impacts of fishery sector change, (2) gender assets and roles, (3) challenges and tools to meet future needs, and (3) the road to mobilization to achieve gender equality in aquaculture and fisheries. Out of these threads, researchers and grass roots representatives will conclude that they need to suspend pre-conceived ideas about gender roles and relationships because many of these are in flux. Researchers need to develop further and make better use of rigorous qualitative social science research methods. Through their participatory nature and to ensure ethical approaches, such methods will bring researchers and grassroots participants closer, which is an essential step in mobilizing support for gender equality.

Fisheries and Aquaculture and Their Potential Roles in Development: An Assessment of the Current Evidence

June 15, 2013

Commissioned by the International Sustainability Unity, this report investigates a number of innovative solutions that have been developed to deal with five key challenges that are impeding progress in achieving sustainable fisheries: overcapacity; perverse subsidies; poor governance; lack of data; and by-catch and discards. These key challenges are interlinked and affect the sustainability of fisheries both directly as well as indirectly by undermining instances of good management. Through 22 case studies demonstrating good practice, we explore how these challenges have been addressed around the world and how these approaches might be scaled up and applied in other fisheries. Each case study draws on published material and interviews with key people involved in the fishery. The main report draws lessons from these case studies.

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.

An Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) in Misamis Occidental, Philippines

January 1, 2013

This is a 4-page brochure regarding a WorldFish led project in the Philippines. WorldFish, with funding support from the European Commission (EC), is undertaking a project with sites in Asia (Southeastern)-Indonesia; Asia (Southeastern)-Philippines; Solomon Islands and Tanzania. Titled Implementing an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) in Small-scale Tropical Marine Fisheries, the project commenced in December 2011 and is set to finish by December 2014. The project has adopted an EAF framework with the aim of improving small-scale fisheries (SSF) management in the four countries -- a significant step to help reduce poverty. The project has adopted an EAF framework with the aim of improving small-scale fisheries (SSF) management in the four countries -- a significant step to help reduce poverty. The three sequential objectives that frame the project are to: i) Assess existing institutional arrangements and understand how an EAF can contribute to more effective integrated SSF management; ii) Identify and pilot EAF strategies and actions that are appropriate for developing countries; iii) Strengthen the capacity of target groups to collaborate and work within the EAF. In the Philippines component of the project, the site covers eight coastal municipalities in the Province of Misamis Occidental, Mindanao. All eight municipalities belong to one group known as the Iligan Bay Alliance of Misamis Occidental (IBAMO). IBAMO enables a collaborative approach toward EAF, displaying a unified commitment to the objectives and expected outputs of the EC/WorldFish project.

Economic Analysis of Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in Selected Coastal Areas in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam

January 1, 2013

This report is an account of a cross-country study that covered Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Covering four sites (one each in Indonesia and Vietnam) and two sites in the Philippines, the study documented the impacts of three climate hazards affecting coastal communities, namely typhoon/flooding, coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion. It also analyzed planned adaptation options, which communities and local governments can implement, as well as autonomous responses of households to protect and insure themselves from these hazards. It employed a variety of techniques, ranging from participatory based approaches such as community hazard mapping and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) to regression techniques, to analyze the impact of climate change and the behavior of affected communities and households.

Report of the CRFM/CNFO/CTA Consultation on the Implementation and Mainstreaming of Regional Fisheries Policies into Small-Scale fisheries Governance Arrangements in the Caribbean

January 1, 2013

This report reviews the methods available for assessing the impacts of interactions between species and fisheries and their implications for marine fisheries management. A brief description of the various modelling approaches currently in existence is provided, highlighting in particular features of these models which have general relevance to the field of the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF). The report concentrates on the currently available models representative of general types such as bionergetic models, predator-prey models and minimally realistic models. Short descriptions are given of model parameters, assumptions and data requirements. Some of the advantages, disadvantages and limitations of each of the approaches in addressing questions pertaining to EAF are discussed. The report concludes with some recommendations for moving forward in the development of multi-species and ecosystem models and for the prudent use of the currently available models as tools for provision of scientific information on fisheries in an ecosystem context.

Community-based Data Gathering and Co-management of Marine Resources in Timor-Leste

January 1, 2013

This the final technical report regarding communication products and outputs created as a result of lessons learned from eleven years of the Fisheries Management Science Programme (FMSP). These lessons, together with tools, methods and informative experiences have been brought together into accessible communications products that aim to highlight the FMSP experiences in relation to fisheries co-management and lead the reader towards the more detailed products available. As such the project has not aimed to generate any particular new insights into any aspect of the co-management process but instead to communicate what exists to a range of stakeholders. The project has developed a communication strategy that has identified a range of target communications stakeholders including policy makers, implementing agencies and agencies with a capacity building remit who might benefit from the lessons learned. The communications strategy was developed together with two other projects to ensure a coordinated approach to the promotion of products relating to co-management and a single communications database was established through which the strategy could be implemented. Based on lessons learned in earlier uptake promotions projects, a range of communications products were developed.

Catch Shares in Action: Alaska Halibut and Sablefish Fixed Gear Individual Fishing Quota Program

January 1, 2013

The Alaska Halibut and Sablefish Fixed Gear Individual Fishing Quota Program (IFQ Program) was one of the first to include a variety of design elements to meet key social goals while also contributing to decreasing overcapitalization and increasing the value of the fishery. Some of the key design elements include low concentration limits, restrictions on trading, strict shareholder eligibility requirements and more. The program also allocates a percentage of the shares to the Community Development Quota (CDQ) program, which includes 65 eligible communities organized into six groups and was designed to ensure fishing access, support economic development, alleviate poverty, and provide economic and social benefits to residents of western Alaska communities (North Pacific Fishery Management Council, n.d, A).

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: Argentine Individual Transferable Quota Program

January 1, 2013

The Argentine Individual Transferable Quota Program manages four of the country's most commercially important species by allocating quota to individual vessels under a single catch share program. Program goals focus on long-term stock conservation, the maximization of domestic employment and the promotion of social stability. As distinct fleets target each species, managers have incorporated special design features within the program to meet each fishery's needs. Quota set-asides give managers the flexibility to address fishery-specific social and biological goals, while the multi-criteria allocation process incentivizes investment in the domestic economy and compliance with fishing regulations.

Rights and Legal Frameworks

Catch Shares in Action: British Columbia Integrated Groundfish Program

January 1, 2013

The British Columbia Integrated Groundfish Program (Integrated Program) is one of the most comprehensive catch share programs in the world. The multi-species program includes over 70 species, 30 of which are managed via quota, and includes all commercial fishermen targeting groundfish, regardless of gear type. The program includes a number of innovative design features such as quota set-asides, which are meant to encourage community development and incentivize positive treatment of crew. Additionally, the program requires 100% individual accountability of all catch and uses an innovative monitoring and catch accounting system to support accountability.

Rights and Legal Frameworks