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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Fisheries and Aquaculture and Their Potential Roles in Development: An Assessment of the Current Evidence

June 15, 2013

Commissioned by the International Sustainability Unity, this report investigates a number of innovative solutions that have been developed to deal with five key challenges that are impeding progress in achieving sustainable fisheries: overcapacity; perverse subsidies; poor governance; lack of data; and by-catch and discards. These key challenges are interlinked and affect the sustainability of fisheries both directly as well as indirectly by undermining instances of good management. Through 22 case studies demonstrating good practice, we explore how these challenges have been addressed around the world and how these approaches might be scaled up and applied in other fisheries. Each case study draws on published material and interviews with key people involved in the fishery. The main report draws lessons from these case studies.

Towards Sustainable Fisheries Management: International Examples of Innovation

January 1, 2010

Fisheries change often carries its own financial rewards. Many reforms and changes which support conservation also result in higher profits and revenue streams for the involved businesses. This makes fisheries a potentially attractive investment arena for many commercial investors, once reform projects are properly structured and agreed upon between conservationists and the involved businesses. As commercial investors and social investors become more involved in the field of fisheries, the scale of the impacts that can be achieved is expected to expand. Foundations in the field are now looking to support this transition from fisheries conservation as a purely philanthropic investment to a blended conservation and business investment by encouraging non-profits, social change leaders and business entrepreneurs to create innovatively structured projects that can both build value for private investors and improve the speed and scale of fisheries conservation impacts. This report aims to support this transition, by providing information about and high-lighting the work of those at the forefront of innovative fisheries finance.

IlIegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

January 1, 2009

This brief examines illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU, see Box 1) and considers the implications for fisheries policy in developing countries. It draws on work conducted by MRAG for DFID. This brief is part of a series concerning fisheries and development issues produced by MRAG and DFID.

Lessons for Co-management: Experiences from the Fisheries Management Science Programme (FMSP)

November 5, 2006

The aim of this document is to communicate lessons for fisheries co-management that have emerged from a series of projects undertaken by the DFID Fisheries Management Science Programme (FMSP). It focuses on three examples of FMSP projects: ParFish, Adaptive learning and designing data collection systems. This document does not aim to give a comprehensive overview of co-management but seeks to provide a viewpoint based on the experiences of the FMSP projects in question. This document is targeted to fisheries decision makers, managers and facilitators including government, industry and non-governmental organisations.

Approaches to Improving CPR Management Performance in Developing Countries: Best Practice

November 1, 2005

The apparent and widespread lack of success over the past 50 years in attempting to manage the exploitation of Common Pool Resources in a sustainable manner is a serious concern for society. Governments recognise that they are losing out on potential benefits for development and growth, while primary stakeholders such as fishers and forest peoples recognise the threat to their livelihoods. In the specific case of fisheries, one of the major responses to the problem by scientists has been to attempt to better understand the factors affecting fisheries management performance, and in turn to develop new and alternative approaches to the challenges and opportunities presented. It is also important to review and learn from the experience of using these new approaches, and to establish 'best practice' for fisheries management across the world. In this third Key Sheet funded by the DFID Fisheries Management Science Programme, a range of new approaches which can contribute to improved fisheries management in Developing Countries will be considered, based on the findings of the FMSP.

Synthesis of FMSP Experience and Lessons Learned for Fisheries Co-Management, Final Technical Report

October 31, 2005

In November 2012, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) set the terms of reference for a commissioned assessment of fisheries and aquaculture science. The task was to complete a "scoping review", consisting of an in-depth assessment of the existing evidence related to fisheries and aquaculture activities in developing countries and their contribution to economic growth, food security and nutrition. For this the assessment was expected to identify the existing evidence and 'evidence in the pipeline' (i.e. to be published imminently) from the existing literature, compile it, and provide an assessment of the strength (in the sense, scientific rigor) of that evidence, and identify knowledge or evidence gaps. In addition the assessment was to be complemented by a mapping of existing relevant interventions in fisheries and aquaculture. In order to conduct this assessment, the team of consultants adopted a six step methodological protocol that allowed them to assess in a consistent manner the scientific quality of the documents included in the assessment, based on quality, size and consistency of the evidence. After scanning, 202 documents were retained. The main evidences from these 202 documents were organised under two main threads: (i) Developmental outcomes, including food security; nutrition; health; economic growth and (ii) Mediating factors focusing on governance; and gender.

Developing, Implementing and Evaluating Policies to Support Fisheries Co-management

January 1, 2005

The aim of this document is to bring together a number of the lessons relating to the development, implementation and evaluation of policies to support co-management that have emerged from projects undertaken through the DFID Fisheries Management Science Programme (FMSP) and elsewhere. It is beyond the scope of this document to provide a comprehensive analysis or guide. It seeks to highlight some experiences and some areas that need to be considered by policy makers when attempting to develop sustainably co-managed fisheries. This document is targeted to fisheries policy makers, and decision-makers concerned with the fisheries sector.

Co-management: A Synthesis of the Lessons Learned from the DFID Fisheries Management Science Programme

January 1, 2005

For the last eleven years, the UK Department for International Development (DfID) have been funding research projects to support the sustainable management of fisheries resources (both inland and marine) in developing countries through the Fisheries Management Science Programme (FMSP). A number of these projects that have been commissioned in this time have examined fisheries co-management. While these projects have, for the most part, been implemented separately, the FMSP has provided an opportunity to synthesise and draw together some of the information generated by these projects. We feel that there is value in distilling some of the important lessons and describing some of the useful tools and examples and making these available through a single, accessible resource. The wealth of information generated means that it is impossible to cover everything in detail but it is hoped that this synthesis will at least provide an overview of the co-management process together with some useful information relating to implementing co-management in a developing country context and links to the more detailed re-sources available, in particular on information systems for co-managed fisheries, participatory fish stock assessment (ParFish) and adaptive learning that have, in particular, been drawn upon for this synthesis. This synthesis is aimed at anyone interested in fisheries management in a developing country context.

Strategic Review of Tropical Fisheries Management

February 1, 2002

This project addresses the constraints to tropical fisheries development with sustainable exploitation through a strategic assessment of tropical fisheries management with the following purposes: (1) To evaluate relevant research methods for the development of assessment models appropriate to the circumstances of tropical coastal fisheries; and (2) To evaluate the utility of existing strategies for the implementation of management advice. The report consists of three substantive chapters. Chapter 2 contains a detailed socio-economic assessment of various instruments and implementation strategies applicable to tropical capture fisheries. In Chapter 3, a detailed assessment of the fisheries for tropical large marine ecosystems has been conducted using a technique developed by FAO (Granger & Garcia 1996). The data used were the FAO statistics published regularly by FAO. This analysis has been conducted for each of the tropical large marine ecosystems and indicates that there is the potential for increased fishing in a number of these ecosystems. One of the clear requirements identified in Chapter 2 and implicit in Chapter 3, is that there is a significant need for simple and robust fisheries assessment methods which can estimate the potential of a particular resource, its capacity in terms of the level of fishing effort and its current status ie whether it is currently exploited sustainably or not. In Chapter 4, these problems are addressed directly and, using two approaches, significant simplification of fishery methods is developed. In the first approach, simple empirical relationships between the life history parameters of a species are used to develop models of potential yield which can be determined by a simple assessment of fish growth. In the second approach, optimal life history theory is applied to the key demographic parameters of exploited fish populations and using estimates of the Beverton & Holt invariants a significant simplifying of the basic stock assessment equations is developed.

Coral Reef Fisheries Literature Review and Database Research Report, Final Technical Report

March 1, 1992

First, coral reef fisheries literature references were obtained and organised into a computer database and a user manual produced. Second, a comprehensive review article summarising and interpreting the disparate literature was written and distributed along with the database. The database and accompanying review should assist research and management of coral reef fisheries in developing countries. In the original project memorandum, it was stated that initial emphasis would be placed on fin-fish fisheries. This emphasis has been maintained throughout the project