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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Ecosystem Approach to Small Scale Tropical Marine Fisheries

January 1, 2013

This is a 4-page brochure about a WorldFish led project. Throughout the world, poor fisheries management contributes to resource degradation, poverty, and food insecurity. This European Union project on an Ecosystem Approach to Small-scale Tropical Marine Fisheries is led by WorldFish and implemented in collaboration with national partners in Asia (Southeastern)-Indonesia; the Asia (Southeastern)-Philippines; the Solomon Islands and Tanzania. The overall objective is to use an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) to improve governance of small-scale fisheries (SSF). The EAFM puts sustainability and equitability at the forefront of fisheries governance which enhances their contribution to poverty reduction.Specific objectives are to: 1. Assess existing institutional arrangements and identify opportunities for an EAFM to improve integrated SSF management; 2. Develop EAFM strategies and actions suitable for developing country contexts; 3. Strengthen the capacity of local fishery stakeholders and government agencies to collaborate and work within an EAFM. The project is taking a participatory and gender sensitive approach, both core philosophies of WorldFish. Representatives of all relevant stakeholder groups are involved in this action research project.

An Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) in Misamis Occidental, Philippines

January 1, 2013

This is a 4-page brochure regarding a WorldFish led project in the Philippines. WorldFish, with funding support from the European Commission (EC), is undertaking a project with sites in Asia (Southeastern)-Indonesia; Asia (Southeastern)-Philippines; Solomon Islands and Tanzania. Titled Implementing an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) in Small-scale Tropical Marine Fisheries, the project commenced in December 2011 and is set to finish by December 2014. The project has adopted an EAF framework with the aim of improving small-scale fisheries (SSF) management in the four countries -- a significant step to help reduce poverty. The project has adopted an EAF framework with the aim of improving small-scale fisheries (SSF) management in the four countries -- a significant step to help reduce poverty. The three sequential objectives that frame the project are to: i) Assess existing institutional arrangements and understand how an EAF can contribute to more effective integrated SSF management; ii) Identify and pilot EAF strategies and actions that are appropriate for developing countries; iii) Strengthen the capacity of target groups to collaborate and work within the EAF. In the Philippines component of the project, the site covers eight coastal municipalities in the Province of Misamis Occidental, Mindanao. All eight municipalities belong to one group known as the Iligan Bay Alliance of Misamis Occidental (IBAMO). IBAMO enables a collaborative approach toward EAF, displaying a unified commitment to the objectives and expected outputs of the EC/WorldFish project.

Economic Analysis of Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in Selected Coastal Areas in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam

January 1, 2013

This report is an account of a cross-country study that covered Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Covering four sites (one each in Indonesia and Vietnam) and two sites in the Philippines, the study documented the impacts of three climate hazards affecting coastal communities, namely typhoon/flooding, coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion. It also analyzed planned adaptation options, which communities and local governments can implement, as well as autonomous responses of households to protect and insure themselves from these hazards. It employed a variety of techniques, ranging from participatory based approaches such as community hazard mapping and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) to regression techniques, to analyze the impact of climate change and the behavior of affected communities and households.

Fish -- More Than Just Another Commodity

January 1, 2013

This brief highlights the contribution of wild capture fisheries to nutritional security in fish dependent developing countries. It is intended to stimulate debate around two broad themes: (1) when should the focus of fisheries policies be on local food security and human well-being as opposed to revenue generation, and (2) how does the current research agenda, with its emphasis on environmental and economic issues, assist or impair decision making processes.

Fisheries policies for a new era

January 1, 2013

This Guidance Note presents a simple approach to analyzing the governance context for development of aquatic agricultural systems; it is intended as an aid to action research, and a contribution to effective program planning and evaluation. It provides a brief introduction to the value of assessing governance collaboratively, summarizes an analytical framework, and offers practical guidance on three stages of the process: identifying obstacles and opportunities, debating strategies for influence, and planning collaborative actions.

Adapting Tropical Pacific Fisheries and Aquaculture to Climate Change: Management Measures, Policies and Investments

February 2, 2012

This chapter sets out the information needed by stakeholders in the fisheries and aquaculture sector at all levels to reduce the threats and capitalise on the opportunities created by climate change The authors emphasise that adaptations and policies to build the resilience of the Pacific communities to climate change. should not be viewed just from a scientific or technical perspective - the needs and aspirations of people must also be integrated. Understanding how people are affected, and how their traditional knowledge, capacities and perspectives can help develop and implement adaptations is a vital part of the process. Community consultation and participation are essential to ensure that adaptations incorporate a human rights and human development approach to achieve gender equality, maintain relevant traditional customs and culture, and empower young people.

Environmental Conservation and Restoration; Knowledge Systems; Rights and Legal Frameworks

Principles for Best Practice For Community-Based Resource Management (CBRM) In Solomon Islands

February 1, 2012

This report is found on pgs173-208 of the FAO publication "Socio-economic indicators in integrated coastal zone and community-based fisheries management. Case studies from the Caribbean". During the fiscal year 2002/03, the CRFM Secretariat requested FAO's assistance in undertaking a study on the use of socio-economic and demographic indicators in integrated coastal area management and fisheries management in the CARICOM region. The study involved three main components. Firstly, country specific case studies to be undertaken in selected Caribbean countries, namely, North America (Central America)-Belize; Dominica, North America (Caribbean)-Jamaica; St. Lucia, North America (Caribbean)-North America (Caribbean)-Barbados; Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caiços Islands. These were aimed at documenting past and current initiatives in the CARICOM region, in which socio-economic and demographic indicators were used in integrated coastal and fisheries management, and also to identify ways and means of incorporating such information in on-going coastal zone and fisheries management programmes. The second component was a comparative study on the use of socio-economic and demographic indicators in coastal management and fisheries management in the Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia and the Asia (Southeastern)-Philippines; which are more advanced in this respect, in order to learn from their experiences. The third component was a regional workshop to present, discuss and refine the country specific and comparative studies, by obtaining input from all the CARICOM countries, and to make recommendations for follow-up actions to improve integrated management of coastal resources, through, inter alia, incorporating the use of socio-economic and demographic indicators in the planning and decision-making process, improving the standard of living of fishing communities, and, promoting sustainable development. This report summarizes the studies, presentations, and lessons learned from the overall project presented at the regional workshop.

Towards Sustainable Development of Small-Scale Fisheries in the Philippines: Experiences and Lessons Learned from Eight Regional Sites

January 1, 2012

The focus of this paper is on the governance of small-scale or municipal fisheries in the Philippines in light of the critical role they play in the livelihoods of coastal communities and in the nation as a whole. The information and insights presented in this lessons learned brief derive from the project entitled Strengthening Governance and Sustainability of Small-Scale Fisheries Management in the Philippines: An Ecosystem Approach. The project was funded principally by the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), and implemented from 2008 to 2011 by WorldFish in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and selected partners. The underlying project's goal was to 'strengthen governance and sustainability of small-scale fisheries management in the Philippines.' There were a variety of objectives spread across two project phases but the primary objectives relevant to this brief include: (1) identifying issues at project sites and assessing potential for an ecosystem based approach to fisheries management, and (2) assessing current fisheries management practices at different levels of governance and identifying best practices. The purposes of this paper are twofold. First, it aims to provide brief highlights of the project findings; second, it aims to present the lessons learned in project implementation covering substantive sectoral concerns as well as methodological issues. It wraps up with some strategic directions that need to be undertaken to reverse the deteriorating conditions of small-scale fisheries (SSF) while at the same time promoting their sustainable development.

Collaborative Governance Assessment

January 1, 2012

This is the report of APFIC/FAO Regional Consultative Workshop, "Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries: Bringing together responsible fisheries and social development", held at theWindsor Suites Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand, 6-8 October 2010. The 72 participants came from a cross section of fisheries sector stakeholders including from 20 countries and 12 Regional Fisheries Bodies and Regional Organizations and 14 fish workers' organizations, disaster preparedness and response agencies, and other civil society organizations. The workshop's objectives were to receive guidance from regional and national stakeholders on the nature, principles and key thematic areas of a possible international instrument to plan, implement and report on securing sustainability in small-scale fisheries. The workshop was further tasked to develop high priority actions and identify potential gaps in the implementation of good governance practices in small-scale fisheries and related assistance needs.

Legal Issues Pertaining to Community Based Fisheries Management

July 10, 2007

National and intergovernmental regulation of fisheries has not prevented many failures of fisheries management around the world. New approaches to improving the environmental sustainability of fisheries have included the certification of fisheries harvested by sustainable means, and the ecolabelling of fish and seafood products from certified fisheries. The intention is to use the power of markets as an incentive to induce more sustainable fisheries. To date, only a relatively small number of fisheries have been certified, and these have been predominantly in developed countries. Critiques from developing countries of ecolabelling, as currently formulated, focus on five general areas: a) legitimacy and credibility; b) a mismatch between certification requirements and the reality of tropical small-scale fisheries; c) potential distortions to existing practices and livelihoods; d) equity and feasibility; and e) perceived barriers to trade.This paper reviews these developing country concerns on the basis of already certified fisheries, and on experiences from forestry, aquaculture and the aquarium industry, and also examines precedents and trends in international environmental and trade issues. It suggests that ecolabelling as currently practiced is unlikely to be widely adopted in Asian countries. Certification may have sporadic success in some eco-conscious, or niche, markets but it is unlikely to stimulate global improvement of fisheries management.The paper argues that to avoid the controversy that accompanies ecolabelling, the focus should be on revision of national fisheries management and not on an ad hoc approach to individual fisheries. Improvements in fisheries management, the equitable treatment of fishing sub-sectors and stakeholders within management schemes, and the prospect of reaping increased value-added from fisheries all require government acceptance of needs and actions. Governments should be encouraged to enter into broad coalitions to improve aspects of fisheries management, and to enhance efforts to develop locally relevant indicator systems for fisheries and for the ecosystem approach. Governments of developing countries must also first address the difficult questions of access to and tenure arrangements for their fisheries, as these are essential prerequisites for successful certification and product labeling. They will also need to legislate on the form and conduct of the postharvest chain and product control, as, in export markets, these are outside the control ofthe fishing communities. International agreement and clarity on trade, environmental (and health) standards affecting fisheries will augment national efforts. Advocacy coalitions that include governments, rather than extraterritorial imposition of labelling schemes, are required.

Social Capital: Communities Based Fisheries Management

March 25, 2007

Fishers are amongst the poorest people in Bangladesh. Most possess few capital assets, many are landless and have few alternative livelihood options. Their access to lakes, rivers and floodplains is strongly affected by decisions made by the people who control aquatic resources at the local level, particularly the rich and elites. The Community Based Fisheries Management Project is an action research project, which the WorldFish Center has been assisting the Department of Fisheries, Bangladesh to implement over the last ten years. The second phase of the project, CBFM-2, has involved the development and testing of a range of community based and co-management models in 116 water bodies through supporting the development of 130 Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in partnership with 11 NGOs. Social capital is one of the five different types of capital (natural, physical, human, financial and social) that are needed for households to develop sustainable livelihood strategies. It consists of the networks and norms that govern the interactions among individuals, households and communities. Social capital can be categorised into three types: bonding, bridging and linking but the boundaries between these vary across contexts. The aim of the study was to see whether poor fishers involved with the CBFM-2 project have benefited through increasing their social capital.

Turning the Tide: Community Based Fisheries Management Protecting the Poor and the Environment

January 1, 2007

The Community Based Fisheries Management (CBFM-2) project is attempting to turn back the ride of years of environmental degradation in Bangladesh by conferring the responsibility for looking after the inland fisheries resources to those whose lives depend on them. The principle is simple -- hand over management of water bodies such as beels, floodplains and rivers to community groups and they will see to it that these resources are managed sustainabily and equitably so that future generations can depend on them for years to come.In practice, it is a complex process -- one which requires major shifts in long-held policies and principles by the government, intensive community development work with a range of NGOs and other stakeholders and the social empowerment of some of Bangladesh's most vulnerable citizens, the poor fishing community.Through a community based approach, groups of poor fishers are now practicing sustainable fisheries management by creating sanctuaries, protecting against illegal and destructuve fishing and banning fishing during the spawning season in project water bodies.