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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The Interaction of Fisheries and Climate Change: Socioeconomic and Management Perspectives

January 1, 2009

Modern-day discussions of fishery governance and management revolve around a number of key ingredients – the goals of sustainability and resilience, the widespread presence of uncertainty and complexity, the corresponding directions of a precautionary approach and an ecosystem approach, and implementation of these through avenues such as robust management. This paper explores the links among these many ingredients. In particular, robust management mechanisms aim for reasonable success in meeting societal objectives of sustainability and resilience, even given high levels of uncertainty, limited understanding of the fishery and an imperfect capability to control exploitation. This draws on both a precautionary approach and an ecosystem approach, in what is, in fact, a form of risk management: risk is reduced through design measures that shift fisheries to become more robust to the inherent structural uncertainty. Managing risk, through robust management, is a key element of fishery governance in the context of the emerging Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), and its joint pursuit of ecosystem health, sustainable resource use and human well-being.

Robust Management, Risk and the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries

January 1, 2008

Biodiversity has not been a prominent consideration in conventional fishery management, even though biological concerns and the concept of "sustainability" are long-established in fisheries. This is because traditionally, the focus of management has been on determining the harvest of fish that can be taken as a "sustainable yield" and then restricting the catch of fish to within this limit. Typically missing from the analysis have been (1) interactions of fishing with the broader marine ecosystem, and (2) interactions of the fishery with the broader coastal economy and coastal communities. Accordingly, there is a need to move toward a "big picture" perspective, a "Fishery System Approach", in which fisheries are understood and managed in the context of marine ecosystems and coastal human systems, thereby addressing the needs of both biodiversity conservation and integrated management of multiple ocean uses. This paper elaborates on these themes, exploring the duality of the Ecosystem Approach and the Livelihood Approach as means to move toward sustainable, resilient fishery systems, ones in which biodiversity values can be more fully included.