Press Releases

Small fisheries essential to developing economies

27 June 2011

Small fisheries provide over half the catch in developing countries and provide 90% of all fishery jobs, recent WorldFish research reveals.

In collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and many national partners, WorldFish has surveyed small and inland fisheries in developing countries. Small fisheries are often more informal and dispersed than larger operations, making them harder to track.

This lack of information has created a perception that these small units are less productive than larger fisheries, which has created a lack of understanding and support. The research aims to fix this knowledge gap to help guide better investment and policy in the subsector.

"Fisheries contribute greatly to the well‐being of many millions of people on our planet. Fish is a highly nutritious food and the sector generates employment and economic values that are important to individuals, communities and national economies. The experience and development of the sector over the last few decades have however taught us that the world’s fishery resources are not infinite and, if we are not careful, will not be able to continue supporting lives and livelihoods in the same way in the future," the survey team warns in its report.

Small fisheries provide food and income to millions of occasional fishers and fishery workers, serving as a security net for poorer populations, especially in coastal areas. Many small fisheries in developing countries are vulnerable to internal and external threats. Fuel price fluctuations constitute a particular concern as fuel typically absorbs a major part of the cost of fishing, even in less mechanized small fisheries.

Statistical findings include:

• over half of the catch in developing countries comes from small-scale fisheries;

• 90-95% of landings are destined for domestic human consumption. Small fisheries provide over 90% of all fishery jobs;

• women comprise around half of the total fishery workforce in developing countries.

Project: Big Numbers Project Preliminary Report (2008)

Analysis: Approaches and Frameworks for Management and Research (2009)

About WorldFish

WorldFish, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is an international, nonprofit research organization committed to reducing poverty and hunger through fisheries and aquaculture.


CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

For more information or to request an interview:

Toby Johnson, Senior Media Relations Manager

Mobile tel: +60 175 124 606





Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO),

PROFISH – World Bank,