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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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.

People and Oceans: Managing Marine Areas for Human Well-Being

March 1, 2011

This booklet demonstrates an awakening within the conservation community that the human relationship with coastal and ocean environments must be evaluated in cultural, social, and economic -- as well as ecological -- dimensions. The major insights from this booklet include:People depend on oceans for food security, recreational opportunities, shoreline protection, climate regulation, and other ecosystem services.Marine resources have tremendous economic value that far exceeds current investments in marine governance, and visitors often are willing to pay far more than existing user fees.MMAs improve human well-being by diversifying livelihoods, enhancing incomes, and improving environmental awareness. They also pose challenges, including loss of access to fishing grounds, inequitable distribution of benefits, dependence on project assistance, and unmet expectations.MMAs are influenced by socioeconomic and governance conditions, including benefits exceeding costs, shared benefits, improved livelihood options, strong community participation, accountable management style, supportive local government, enabling legislation, enforced rules, empowerment and capacity building, strong persistent leadership, and involved external agents.Effective MMAs require strong enforcement, including both soft measures (i.e., education, partnerships) and hard measures (i.e., detection, interception, prosecution, and sanctions).Approaches such as buyouts, conservation agreements, and alternative livelihoods provide positive incentives for altering human behavior.

Balanced Livelihoods; Institutional Mechanisms and Frameworks; Knowledge Systems; Markets and Economies

A Decision-Maker's Guide To Using Science

January 1, 2011

"Marine Managed Areas: What, Why, and Where" is a reader-friendly, richly illustrated 16-page booklet that defines MMAs and discusses the challenges of implementation. Based on 5 years of natural and social science research in 23 countries, it is intended to advance discussions among government agencies, non-government organizations, user groups, and other stakeholders about how and why to implement integrated management for the ocean. Marine Managed Areas: What, Why, and Where is a publication of the Science-to-Action partnership, which includes more than 75 organizations led by Conservation International's Marine Management Area Science Program. One approach to the development of better coastal and marine policy and management is the concept of marine managed areas (MMAs). A MMA is an area of ocean, or a combination of land and ocean, where all human activities are managed toward common goals. MMAs are a form of ecosystem-based management, where all elements -- biophysical, human, and institutional -- of a particular system are considered together. There are several overarching principles under which MMAs should be developed: All human uses and their subsequent impacts on the defined area should be considered and their management integrated.Policy and management should be based on the best natural and social science available.All stakeholders in the defined area should be consulted and fully involved in the policy and management development and implementation processes concerning the MMA's conditions and uses. When such principles are fully implemented, the uses of the resources and habitats and the resulting benefits both to the environment and to humans can be optimized.

MMAS Project Synthesis: A Chapter in the MMAS Final Report to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

October 15, 2010

One chapter of the Marine Managed Area Science (MMAS) Final Narrative Report. This document is a technical summary and synthesis of lessons learned under MMAS in its initial five years, under a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. MMAS encompassed the efforts of 100+ senior investigators working on about 50 related and sometimes overlapping projects. The program evolved gradually as individual projects were sequentially brought on line and woven together over the 5 years. Many MMAS participants saw the program through the eyes of their individual interests. Admittedly, few remained aware of the overarching goals and synthesis objectives of MMAS all the while that they were participants.For that reason, with the close of the grant, this document is part of a series of products that provide an integrated glimpse of the MMAS program, and the insights that it has begun to yield

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.

Living with the Sea: Local Efforts Buffer Effects of Global Change

January 1, 2010

Living with the Sea examines the role of MMAs (Marine Managed Areas) in restoring and sustaining healthy oceans, particularly the importance of local management efforts. This document draws on MMA experiences worldwide by synthesizing results from over 25 natural science studies conducted over the past five years in 18 tropical countries in 48 MMAs. The analysis focuses on the role of MMAs in maintaining healthy oceans, showing that MMAs can be used to enhance fisheries outside their borders and safeguard threatened species. Conserving multiple habitats using MMAs can also protect diverse livelihoods and increase fisheries yields. Local protection of marine resources through the MMA process can provide strong local benefits to species, habitats, and people. Local protection buffers against global climate change impacts while maintaining the richness of marine life. Finally, MMAs benefit by using new scientific approaches and engaging citizen scientists.

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.

Marine Managed Areas: What, Why, and Where

January 1, 2010

This paper, which focuses on ocean and coastal areas, explores the challenge of public participation by discussing the role of communities in IM. It draws on a decade of collaboration between academics and community partners to outline the community perspective on both the limiting factors and the opportunities, and a state-of-the-art survey of community involvement in IM, parti-cularly in the Canadian Maritimes. The paper highlights the importance of linking communities and governments, and the need to overcome the growing disconnect between the two. It also illustrates the varied experiences of local coastal communities with IM through three concrete examples. These practical examples lead to two specific out-puts: a set of fundamental IM values and attributes from a community perspective, and a four-step process for facilitating and enabling community-focused IM.The conclusion summarizes key outcomes in terms of inclusivity and active involvement of communities.