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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Poverty, Sustainability and Human Wellbeing: A Social Wellbeing Approach to the Global Fisheries Crisis

January 9, 2011

The purpose of this paper is to explore the extent to which a social wellbeing approach can offer a useful way of addressing the policy challenge of reconciling poverty and environmental objectives for development policy makers. In order to provide detail from engagement with a specific policy challenge it takes as its illustrative example the global fisheries crisis. This crisis portends not only an environmental disaster but also a catastrophe for human development and for the millions of people directly dependent upon fish resources for their livelihoods and food security. The paper presents the argument for framing the policy problem using a social conception of human wellbeing, suggesting that this approach provides insights which have the potential to improve fisheries policy and governance. By broadening the scope of analysis to consider values, aspirations and motivations and by focusing on the wide range of social relationships that are integral to people achieving their wellbeing, it provides a basis for better understanding the competing interests in fisheries which generate conflict and which often undermine existing policy regimes.