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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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.

Regional Workshop on Co-management in Small-Scale Fisheries: Lessons Learned and Best Practices 12-13 December 2012, Bangkok, Thailand

December 1, 2012

An FAO project, the Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme, which is funded by Spain, has worked with the Timorese authorities and coastal communities to build local capacity and put in place effective methods to gather a variety of important fisheries data. This is used to help make important decisions relating to the management of the nation's fisheries sector. These actions, which are detailed in this publication, have been carried out at relatively little expense and in a participatory manner that has engaged communities while at the same time providing practical skills to all involved.

International Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries

May 1, 2012

The 'Zero Draft' of the International Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries(SSF Guidelines) has been prepared based on the outcomes of the extensive consultation process that has taken place during the last few years. This preliminary draft text draws in particular on the Discussion Document: Towards Voluntary Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries–prepared as a stock-taking exercise by the FAO SSF Guidelines Secretariat in July 2011 and the contributions to and the outcomes of the FAO Workshop on International Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries held on 7-10 February 2012 in FAO, Rome. It has been prepared to stimulate further consultations among all concerned parties. The outcomes of these additional consultations will provide guidance to the FAO Secretariat when preparing the text of the SSF Guidelines that will be submitted as a draft to the formal inter-governmental negotiation process tentatively scheduled for May 2013.

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012

January 1, 2012

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) is the flagship publication of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. This premier advocacy document is published every two years to provide policy-makers, civil society and those whose livelihoods depend on the sector a comprehensive, objective and global view of capture fisheries and aquaculture, including associated policy issues.

Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme for South and Southeast Asia (RFLP) Activity 1.5 (2011): Systems and Procedures for Participatory Monitoring of Management Measures Developed, Introduced and Implemented-catch Monitoring

January 1, 2012

Coastal fisheries are very essential for supporting the livelihoods of many rural poor in the coastal areas, particularly coastal community fisheries members. They serve as sources of food, employment and income generation for many coastal families. "Coastal Community Fisheries Catch Monitoring" Project which was conducted from April to November 2011 provides some data which indicates the importance of small-scale fisheries. The project was financially supported by the Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme, Cambodian component (RFLP/CMB) and was activity 1.5 of the approved RFLP CMB 2011 activity work plan and budget. For this catch monitoring study, 26 small-scale subsistence fishers, including 05 women, from five community fisheries (CFi?s) in the RFLP CMB area of geographic coverage from the four coastal provinces of Cambodia were selected and following appropriate training collected specific catch data and recorded it in fisher's logbook on a daily basis for the purpose of getting a better understanding of catch per unit of effort (CEPU), the health of inshore fish stock and the contribution of aquatic products to small-scale fisher households along the coast of Cambodia. The key data items recorded included total catchweight, catch weight by species, total catch sale price, fish price of the main species and total lengths of some key species. The study involved designing logbooks, training the selected 26 fishers as data collectors on data collection methods, collecting data from all the selected fishers, designing a database and entering all the collected data into the database, checking for errors and analyzing the collected data for final reporting and preparing report.

Fisheries Stakeholders and Their Livelihoods in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

December 1, 2011

Fisheries Management for Sustainable Livelihoods (FIMSUL), is a project implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the Government of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in India under the World Bank Trust Fund. The project aims at establishing frameworks, processes and building capacities of various stakeholders especially the Government, to facilitate the planning, design and implementation of appropriate fisheries development and management policies. The project includes a series of stakeholder consultations and consensus building apart from detailed review and analysis in the areas of stakeholders, livelihoods, policy, legal and institutional frame work and fisheries management. Based on this, the project comes up with various options. Stakeholder and livelihoods analysis is an essential part of the project. Hence, the team developed a detailed methodology for stakeholder consultations which includes district level stake holder consultation, focus group discussions, household interviews and validation meetings. The stakeholder and livelihoods analysis following the above steps were done through six NGO partners working along the coast of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry who were initially trained on the methodology. The NGO partners : PLANT, GUIDE, FERAL, SIFFS, DHAN Foundation and TMSSS, especially a team of dedicated staff engaged by them had done an excellent work in completing comprehensive field exercises and bringing out 12 district/regional reports. These are published separately. This report is a compilation, and complete analysis of the stakeholders and livelihoods based on all the field level consultations.This report is expected to be an important reference to primary stakeholders' perspective of the important stakeholders in the sector, the livelihoods and livelihoods changes, the adaptive and coping mechanism, the relationships between the stakeholders and their hopes and aspirations. For any development intervention for any sector or stakeholder group, region-wise in marine fisheries in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, the information from this report could be an important starting point.

Governance of Tenure in Small-Scale Fisheries: Key Considerations

June 1, 2011

This paper examines the recognition, development and reinforcement of tenure systems in small-scale fisheries, and the conditions for those tenure systems to be effective and fair. Good governance of tenure requires that rights to access fishery resources (use rights) and rights to be involved in fishery decision-making (management rights) are linked to social, economic and human rights. This leads to a modern and more comprehensive view of rights-based fisheries governance, recognizing not only the need for rights, but also the need for attention to the details of those rights, to avoid negative impacts. This paper explores (a) the links of fishery tenure systems to use rights, management rights and human rights; (b) the dynamics of tenure, including processes for determining who should hold the rights and recognition of pre-existing tenure arrangements; and (c) the roles of organizational capacity, legal space, and empowerment, together with the relationship of fishery tenure to the broader objectives of development policy, such as community well-being, food security and poverty alleviation.

Marine Protected Areas: Country Case Studies on Policy, Governance and Institutional Issues

January 1, 2011

This document presents case studies of the policy, governance and institutional issues of marine protected areas (MPAs) in South America (Northeastern)-Brazil; India, Palau and Senegal. It is the first of four in a global series of case studies on MPAs. An initial volume provides a synthesis and analysis of all the studies. The set of global MPA case studies was designed to close a deficit in information on the governance of MPAs and spatial management tools, within both fisheries management and biodiversity conservation contexts. The studies examine governance opportunities in and constraints on the use of spatial management measures at the national level. They were also designed to inform implementation of the FAO Technical Guidelines on marine protected areas (MPAs) and fisheries, which were developed to provide information and guidance on the use of MPAs in the context of fisheries.

Mainstreaming Gender Into Project Cycle Management in the Fisheries Sector

January 1, 2011

This manual has been prepared to facilitate gender analysis and project planning in fisheries development projects. It is intended to be a toolkit to help project managers and implementing counterparts (such as extensionists, government and non-government field workers, and private- and public-sector development consultants, community organizers and leaders of local groups), to facilitate the integration of gender issues into the project cycle.

Coastal Fisheries of South America and the Caribbean

January 1, 2011

The importance of fisheries for coastal communities and livelihoods in South America-Latin America; and the Caribbean (LAC) is well documented. This is particularly the case for 'coastal fisheries', including subsistence, traditional (artisanal) and advanced artisanal (or semi-industrial) varieties. There are, however, major gaps in knowledge about these fisheries, and major challenges in their assessment and management. Therein lies the key theme of this document, which seeks to contribute to a better understanding of coastal fisheries in the LAC region, as well as to generate discussion about ways to move towards sustainable fisheries. The document includes three main components. First, an introductory chapter provides an overview of general trends in the fisheries of the LAC countries, as well as some of the key challenges they are facing in terms of sustainability. Second, a set of twelve chapters each reporting on the coastal fisheries of one country in South America-Latin America; and the North America (Caribbean); collectively covering fisheries of each main subregion: the Caribbean islands (North America (Caribbean)-North America (Caribbean)-Barbados; Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago), North and Central America (North America (Central America)-Costa Rica; Mexico) and South America (Argentina, South America (Northeastern)-Brazil; South America (Northwestern)-South America (Northwestern)-Colombia; Uruguay). All these country-specific chapters follow an integrated approach, to the extent possible, covering aspects ranging from the biological to the socio-economic. Third, the final component of the document contains a synthesis of information from the countries examined, an analysis of the main issues and challenges faced by the various fisheries, an outline of policy directions to improve fisheries management systems in the LAC region, identification of routes toward more integrated approaches for coastal fisheries management, and recommendations for 'ways forward' in dealing with fishery assessment and governance issues in the region.

Good Practices in the Governance of Small-Scale Fisheries, with a Focus on Rights-Based Approaches

October 1, 2010

Climate change, operating through related physical changes (e.g. sea level, ocean temperature) has biological implications (e.g. changes in primary productivity) which in turn produce direct impacts on human uses of the ocean (e.g., fishing, tourism, ports) and broader induced impacts on human society (e.g., social, economic, community). In fisheries, the effects of climate change are bound to interact with the effects of fishing, in their cumulative impacts on fish stocks, and on human aspects of the fishery system. It is important to recognize that the overall approach to, and the specific components of, fisheries management will have major effects on this interaction. Accordingly, this paper explores two main considerations. First, socioeconomic and behavioural aspects of fisheries need to be monitored in the face of climate change, as these will likely have strong management and assessment implications. Second, the need to address the combination of climate change and fishing as forcing factors in fisheries reinforces the necessity for adopting a broad-based precautionaryapproach to management decision making, and for re-designing management systems so that their structure and methods are more robust and adaptive.

APFIC/FAO Regional Consultative Workshop: Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries: Bringing together responsible fisheries and social development, Windsor Suites Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand 6–8 October 2010

January 1, 2010

In the Global Overview, we attempt to view reefs in terms of the poor who are dependent on reefs for their livelihoods, how the reefs benefit the poor, how changes in the reef have impacted the lives of the poor and how the poor have responded and coped with these changes. It also considers wider responses to reef issues and how these interventions have impacted on the lives of the poor.