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.

The Socio-economic Impacts of Fisheries Management and Policy Designed to Achieve Biodiversity Conservation

November 1, 2009

This report responds to a request from the Tubney Charitable Trust to carry out a basic review of current knowledge of the socio-economic impacts of fisheries management and policy designed to achieve biodiversity conservation. The fisheries sector is having a significant impact upon marine biodiversity in UK waters. The report discusses the importance and diversity of socio-economic knowledge and how it can help to place fisheries into the broader, more holistic, framework of sustainable development. It emphasises the complexity of the policy environment and the need to understand the conflicting and contrasting motives of the different stakeholders. Understanding what motivates policymakers and fishers is the first step to changing their behaviour. The report discusses the divergence between policy and policy implementation, and the complexity of policy instruments.

Sustainable Livelihoods Enhancement and Diversification (SLED): A Manual for Practitioners

January 1, 2008

The aim of this document is to provide development practitioners with an introduction to the SLED process as well as guidance for practitioners facilitating that process. The Sustainable Livelihoods Enhancement and Diversification (SLED) approach has been developed by Integrated Marine Management Ltd (IMM) through building on the lessons of past livelihoods research projects as well as worldwide experience in livelihood improvement and participatory development practice. It aims to provide a set of guidelines for development and conservation practitioners whose task it is to assist people in enhancing and diversifying their livelihoods. Under the Coral Reefs and Livelihoods Initiative (CORALI), this approach has been field tested and further developed in very different circumstances and institutional settings, in six sites across South Asia and Indonesia. While this process of testing and refining SLED has been carried out specifically in the context of efforts to manage coastal and marine resources, it is an approach that can be applied widely wherever natural resources are facing degradation because of unsustainable human use. The SLED approach provides a framework within which diverse local contexts and the local complexities of livelihood change can be accommodated.

Understanding the Factors that Support or Inhibit Livelihood Diversification in Coastal Cambodia

September 1, 2005

The DFID funded Aquatic Resource Dependency and Benefit Flows Project (ARDB) was a short research project (from January 2005 until August 2005) implemented by IMM of the UK, the Community Fisheries Development Office (CFDO) of the Department of Fisheries (DoF) and the Community Based Natural Resource Management Learning Institute (CBNRM LI), both based in Cambodia. It had two aims: 1) to build capacity amongst government and NGO staff in understanding the importance of livelihood diversification as a potential tool for natural resource management, and 2) to further our understanding of how factors that support or inhibit rural household diversification may apply in the Cambodian coastal context and beyond. The current report reviews the background to, and the findings of, that research.

Policy Reform Impact Assessment, Cambodia: Impacts of the Fisheries Policy Reforms in Kampong Cham, Pursat and Takeo Provinces

January 1, 2004

This assessment report created in 2004 provides a review of the fisheries policy reforms introduced in Cambodia in October 2000 and the impacts of these reforms on poverty in Cambodia, on food security, on ecology, on institutional arragements, on fisheries resources and on different fisheries stakeholders.

Poverty and Reefs: Volume 1 A Global Overview

January 1, 2003

The Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) provided legal support to the CBFM-2 project and in particular to the 130 Community Based Organisations established under the project. The project was implemented against an uncertain legal background due to many changes in the way that wetlands and fisheries in Bangladesh have been managed over recent decades. Many of the key interventions, such as sanctuaries have yet to receive legal recognition. Many currently accepted norms and practices have come about through gazette notifications or individual decisions rather than being supported by Acts or clear policies. This paper outlines the legal background for community managed fisheries in Bangladesh and the challenges faced during implementation of the project. It also suggests what needs to happen if community managed fisheries are to become more widespread in Bangladesh.

Changing Fish Utilisation and Its Impact on Poverty in India: Major Trends in the Utilisation of Fish in India and Their Impact on the Poor

December 1, 2001

This publication is an output from a research project (R7999) funded by the United Kingdom DFID Post-Harvest Fisheries Research Programme Project for the benefit of developing countries. The project was called: Changing Fish Utilisation and Its Impact on Poverty in India. The project aims to develop policy guidance to increase the positive impact of improved post-harvest utilisation of fish on the lives of poor processors, traders and consumers in India. Throughout this report the project is referred to as the IFU project.

A Study of DFID's Support for Post-Cyclone Livelihoods Rehabilitation In Orissa, India

March 1, 2001

The recent UK Government Foresight Project on Global Food and Farming Futures recognises the intensifying pressure on the world's food system that we can expect in the next 40 years. Meeting the challenges these pressures present will require concerted effort by many research communities, among them those that focus on fisheries. In recent years there has been a growth in research pointing to the importance and potential of fisheries in a development and food security context. As a major source of animal protein, especially for poor consumers in developing countries, securing and making the most of the world's fisheries remains an important priority (Béné et al., 2007; World Bank/FAO/WorldFish, 2010). In parallel, after a period of disillusionment following the failures of investments in fisheries projects in the 1970s and 80s (Cunninghamet al., 2009; NFDS, 2009), interest in supporting this sector through foreign aid is returning. Not surprisingly, this resurgence of interest aligns with the renewed focus on agriculture and food security, following relative neglect in the 1990s (World Bank, 2008). With increasing interest in investing development aid in fisheries, it is legitimate to ask what recent research has to offer by way of guidance. In this short paper we summarise the potential significance of several emerging areas of fisheries research and management for helping secure and enhance fish supplies from wild harvesting in support of food security in the developing world. Our focus is on small-scale fisheries, for reasons summarised below, these fisheries present a critical frontier in the challenge to increase the contribution of fish to poverty reduction and sustainable development.We have selected four areas –loosely titled 'Small-scale fisheries' (highlighting gender and inland fisheries), 'Governance reform', 'Resilience in practice' and 'External drivers'. Although more conventional fisheries topics such as effort reduction, fish stock sustainability and gear technology remain important, we feel these other broad areas of inquiry offer particular promise for supporting development efforts. Our intention is to provide readers with a short accessible introduction to these topics and to provide entry points to some of the recent literature.

Participatory and Integrated Policy: A Field Guide for Policy Formulation in Small-Scale Fisheries

April 1, 1996

The Participatory and Integrated Policy (PIP) process is a structured approach to research, dialogue, decision-making, institutional reform and development-resource allocation, which promotes greater involvement of all stakeholders in the policy process and harmonises their conflicting objectives, strategies and capacities. This field guide is designed to provide some structure to researching the policy formulation process. It aims to complement, and forms a bridge between, the specific social, economic, environmental and technical fisheries skills of researchers in the area of small -scale fisheries policy.