Policies and practice for resilience
Woman weaving fishing net, Bangladesh
Why are improvements to small-scale fisheries needed?
A fishery is not just a place to catch fish; it is a system—an aquatic ecosystem, plus groups of people and institutional arrangements governing the capture, trade, processing, and consumption of fish.
All around the world, fisheries are being pushed to the brink of their productive capacity by over-harvesting. Pollution, environmental degradation, and rapid development have compounded the stress. Climate change will affect the world’s fisheries profoundly, although the implications are not yet well understood.
The productive capacity of small-scale fisheries in developing countries is hampered by a complex interplay of factors that include inadequate knowledge and skills among traditional fishers, a lack of markets and roads, inequitable fishing rights, inappropriate management, unsupportive or conflicting policies, and weak political representation.
Among the needed improvements, one strong priority is new management approaches that better address the complex issues affecting small-scale fisheries. Management in recent decades took too narrow a view, focusing heavily on biophysical aspects of productivity such as maximization of yields.
Today, small-scale fisheries must be managed with an eye to maximizing a broader range of socioeconomic benefits; if fisheries are valued for a variety of benefits, the tradeoffs involved in different management choices will be better understood.
- In the rainforest of Cameroon, WorldFish and partner organizations have helped several river-based communities to supply high-value ornamental fish to the international aquarium trade.
- In New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands, similar methods are being developed to cultivate species for export markets including cleaner shrimp, spiny lobsters, angelfish and giant clams.
- Including small-scale fisheries in national and regional development policies
- Integrating assessment and advisory systems for small-scale fisheries management
- Improving management and governance of small-scale fisheries
- Building institutional capacity for adaptive learning among small-scale fishers
A WorldFish publication on small-scale fisheries is in preparation.