Early efforts to apply the concept of fisheries co-management in Southeast Asia focused primarily on building the effectiveness of local management institutions and advocating the merits of the approach so that it would be applied in new sites, while gradually learning and adapting to a range of obstacles in practice. Today, with co-management widely embraced by the research community and adopted as policy by an increasing number of governments, a second-generation perspective has emerged.
Community-based marine resource management is recognized by the Government of Solomon Islands as the principle strategy for use in marine conservation and small-scale fisheries management. This strategy is particularly important in Solomon Islands due to the constitutionally recognized customary tenure systems that are in place in rural areas where the majority of the population resides. Many government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including WorldFish, provide support to rural communities in their efforts to improve the management of their marine resources.
Through a SIDA -funded project on small-scale fisheries FAO and partners have been supporting WorldFish Center research into small-scale aquaculture investment. Studies of projects in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia suggest significant outcomes from investment, and start to show the potential for new avenues for investment in aquaculture that have potential to deliver not only aquaculture products and profitable businesses for smallholders, but also social and economic goals. Some of the highlights are provided in this article.
In many low-income countries with water resources, small fish species are important for the livelihoods, nutrition and income of the rural poor. The small size of fish favours frequent consumption by and nutrition of the rural poor, as these fish are captured, sold and bought in small quantities; used both raw and processed in traditional dishes; and are nutrient-rich. All small fish species are a rich source of animal protein, and – as they are eaten whole – have a very high content of bioavailable calcium. Some are rich in vitamin A, iron, zinc and essential fats.
The sustainable management of small-scale fisheries in coral reef ecosystems constitutes a difficult objective not least because these fisheries usually face several worsening pressures, including demographic growth and climate change. The implications are crucial in terms of food security as fish represents the major protein source for local populations in many regions reliant on small-scale fisheries. The case of the Solomon Islands’ fishery presented in this paper represents an illustrative example of these issues.
Periodically-harvested fisheries closures are emerging as a socially acceptable and locally implementable way to balance concerns about conserving ecosystem function and sustaining livelihoods. Across the Indo-Pacific periodically-harvested closures are commonly employed, yet their contribution towards more sustainable fisheries remains largely untested in the social and ecological context of tropical small-scale fisheries.