Individuals relying on natural resource extraction for their livelihood face high income variability driven by a mix of environmental, biological, management, and economic factors. Key to managing these industries is identifying how regulatory actions and individual behavior affect income variability, financial risk, and, by extension, the economic stability and the sustainable use of natural resources. In commercial fisheries, communities and vessels fishing a greater diversity of species have less revenue variability than those fishing fewer species. However, it is unclear whether these benefits extend to the actions of individual fishers and how year-to-year changes in diversification affect revenue and revenue variability. Here, we evaluate two axes by which fishers in Alaska can diversify fishing activities. We show that, despite increasing specialization over the last 30 years, fishing a set of permits with higher species diversity reduces individual revenue variability, and fishing an additional permit is associated with higher revenue and lower variability. However, increasing species diversity within the constraints of existing permits has a fishery-dependent effect on revenue and is usually (87% probability) associated with increased revenue uncertainty the following year. Our results demonstrate that the most effective option for individuals to decrease revenue variability is to participate in additional or more diverse fisheries. However, this option is expensive, often limited by regulations such as catch share programs, and consequently unavailable to many individuals. With increasing climatic variability, it will be particularly important that individuals relying on natural resources for their livelihood have effective strategies to reduce financial risk.
The location and intensity of small-scale fishing is dynamic over time, greatly shaping ecosystems. However, historical information about fishing effort and fishing gear-use are often unavailable. Within a marine biodiversity hotspot in the Philippines, we characterized spatio-temporal dynamics of fishing (1960–2010) using participatory mapping. First, we compared non-spatial and spatial estimates of total fishing effort. Our non-spatial estimate indicated that fishing increased 2.5 fold, reaching 1.3 million fishing days per year in 2010. Yet, spatial estimates showed fishing effort increased >20 fold, with the highest effort in 1990. Second, we evaluated how spatial characteristics of fishing changed over time. We introduced a method to estimate the sample size of fishers needed to accurately map the extent of fishing. By 2000, fishing extent grew 50% and small-scale fisheries affected over 90% of the coastal ocean. The expanded fishing area coincided with a greater spatial overlap among fishing gears and a proliferation of intensive fishing gears (destructive, active, non-selective). The expansion and intensification of fishing shown here emphasize the need for spatial approaches to management that focus on intensive, and often illegal, fishing gears. Such approaches are critical in targeting conservation actions (e.g. gear restrictions) in the most vulnerable areas.
This article explores how conceptualizing fish as food, rather than primarily as a resource or commodity supports a shift towards more systems-based approaches to engaging with fisheries (i.e. considering the relationships between ecosystems, people, management and policy). A “fish as food” lens is operationalized by drawing on the theory and practice of food sovereignty. While fishing people and communities have always been a core part of the food sovereignty movement, there have been limited efforts in the academic literature to explore these connections directly. Drawing on examples primarily from a Canadian context, it is argued that a deeper engagement between fisheries and food sovereignty is long overdue, particularly as a growing body of research on small-scale fisheries seeks to address social-ecological relationships and issues of power that are also at the core of a food sovereignty approach. This article identifies the opportunities and limitations of engaging with food sovereignty in the context of small-scale fisheries and suggests a series of key questions for future fish as food research and policy.
Small-scale fisheries provide an essential source of food and employment for coastal communities, yet the availability of detailed information on the spatiotemporal distribution of fishing effort to support resource management at a country level is scarce. Here, using a national-scale study in the Republic of Congo, we engaged with fishers from 23 of 28 small-scale fisheries landing sites along the coast to demonstrate how combining community engagement and relatively low cost Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers can rapidly provide fine-scale information on: (1) the behavioral dynamics of the fishers and fleets that operate within this sector; and (2) the location, size and attributes of important fishing grounds upon which communities are dependent. This multidisciplinary approach should be considered within a global context where uncertainty over the behavior of marine and terrestrial resource-users can lead to management decisions that potentially compromise local livelihoods, conservation, and resource sustainability goals.
In developing regions, coastal communities are particularly dependent on small-scale fisheries for food security and income. However, information on the scale and impacts of small-scale fisheries on coastal marine ecosystems are frequently lacking. Large marine vertebrates (marine mammals, sea turtles and chondrichthyans) are often among the first species to experience declines due to fisheries. This paper reviews the interactions between small-scale fisheries and vulnerable marine megafauna in the southwestern Indian Ocean. We highlight an urgent need for proper documentation, monitoring and assessment at the regional level of small-scale fisheries and the megafauna affected by them to inform evidence-based fisheries management. Catch and landings data are generally of poor quality and resolution with compositional data, where available, mostly anecdotal or heavily biased towards easily identifiable species. There is also limited understanding of fisheries effort, most of which relies on metrics unsuitable for proper assessment. Management strategies (where they exist) are often created without strong evidence bases or understanding of the reliance of fishers on resources. Consequently, it is not possible to effectively assess the current status and ensure the sustainability of these species groups; with indications of overexploitation in several areas. To address these issues, a regionally collaborative approach between government and non-governmental organisations, independent researchers and institutions, and small-scale fisheries stakeholders is required. In combination with good governance practices, appropriate and effective, evidence-based management can be formulated to sustain these resources, the marine ecosystems they are intrinsically linked to and the livelihoods of coastal communities that are tied to them.
This article analyses the interplay between inter-State obligations to increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology in accordance with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.a, with a view to contributing to enhanced implementation of the international law of the sea (SDG 14.c), and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources (SDG 14.b). It proposes to do so by relying not only on the international law of the sea, but also on international biodiversity law (particularly the Convention on Biological Diversity) and international human rights law (particularly the human right to science). The article seeks to provide a reflection on the opportunities arising from a mutually supportive interpretation of different international law instruments with regard to the means of implementation for SDG 14 in synergy with other SDGs (particularly SDG 17 on ‘Partnerships for the Goals’ and its targets related to technology transfer, capacity-building and partnerships).
This article presents the first bottom-up analysis of the proportion of global marine fisheries subsidies to small-scale fisheries (SSF). Using existing data, the reported national subsidy amounts are split into the fraction that goes to small- and large-scale fishing sectors. Results reveal a major imbalance in subsidy distribution, with SSF receiving only about 16% of the total global fisheries subsidy amount of $35 billion in 2009. To bring this into perspective, a person engaged in large-scale fishing received around 4 times the amount of subsidies received by their SSF counterparts. Furthermore, almost 90% of capacity-enhancing subsidies, which are known to exacerbate overfishing go to large-scale fisheries, thus increasing the unfair competitive advantage that large-scale fisheries already have. The developmental, economic and social consequences of this inequity are huge and impair the economic viability of the already vulnerable small-scale fishing sector. Conclusions indicate that taxpayers' money should be used to support sustainable fishing practices and in turn ocean conservation, and not to foster the degradation of marine ecosystems, often a result of capacity-enhancing subsidies. Reducing capacity-enhancing subsidies will have minimal negative effects on SSF communities since they receive very little of these subsidies to begin with. Instead, it will help correct the existing inequality, enhance SSF economic viability, and promote global fisheries sustainability.
The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF-Guidelines) were agreed with extensive input from small-scale fishers themselves, and hold great promise for enhancing both small-scale fishers’ human rights and fisheries sustainability in a meaningful and context relevant manner. However, this promise will not be fulfilled without continued input from fishing communities as the SSF-Guidelines are implemented. This paper proposes that international conservation NGOs, with their extensive geographical and political networks, can act as a conduit for communication between small-scale fishing communities and other parties and thus catalyse implementation of the Guidelines. In order to do so, they will first need to demonstrate a genuine commitment to people-as-well-as-parks and the human rights based approach espoused in the SSF-Guidelines. This paper reviews current engagement of international conservation NGOs with human rights in fisheries; looks at their potential motivations for doing more; and identifies challenges in the way. It concludes with a proposal for how international conservation NGOs could play a critical part in catalysing the implementation of the SSF-Guidelines.
There is a growing global concern for the conservation of manta and devil rays (Mobulidae). Populations of mobulids are falling worldwide and fisheries are one of the main activities contributing to this decline. Mobulid landings have been reported in Peru for decades. However, detailed information regarding the description of mobulid captures is not available. This study provides an assessment of mobulid captures and fish-market landings by small-scale gillnet fisheries from three landing sites in northern Peru. Onboard and shore-based observations were used to monitor captures and landings respectively between January 2015 and February 2016. All mobulid species known to occur in Peru were recorded from landings, with immature Mobula japanica as the most frequent catch. No manta rays (Manta birostris) were reported as caught although one specimen was observed as landed. The mean nominal CPUE was 1.6 ± 2.8 mobulids[km.day]−1 while the average capture per set (fishing operation) was 2.0 ± 8.09 mobulids[set]−1. Smooth hammerhead shark (S. zygaena) and yellowfin tuna (T. albacares) were target species highly associated with mobulid captures. The majority of mobulid captures occurred in nearshore waters and over the continental shelf off Zorritos and San Jose. Mobulid capture showed a temporal trend, increasing between September 2015 and February 2016, with a peak in October 2015 (10.17 ± 0.23 mobulids[km.day]−1), reflected by landings that showed an additional peak in May. A generalized linear zero-inflated negative binomial two-part model (GLM ZINB) indicated that longitude and latitude explained both the zero-inflated binomial model, as well as the count negative binomial model, which also included season as a explanatory variable for differences in mobulid captures. The mean CPUE (mobulids[km.day]−1) and mean Variance values obtained from the fitted final model were 1.73 and 25.51, respectively. Results also suggest that high mobulid captures could reflect an opportunistic behaviour of fishermen who catch mobulids when target species are not as abundant. Considering the global conservation status of mobulids, (Manta and Mobula), and acknowledging that M. birostris was the only species not recorded captured in the study but is the only species legally protected in Peru, further studies are necessary to support the possible inclusion of Mobula species in national management plans.
In several Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), rapid population growth and inadequate management of coastal fish habitats and stocks is causing a gap to emerge between the amount of fish recommended for good nutrition and sustainable harvests from coastal fisheries. The effects of ocean warming and acidification on coral reefs, and the effects of climate change on mangrove and seagrass habitats, are expected to widen this gap. To optimise the contributions of small-scale fisheries to food security in PICTs, adaptations are needed to minimise and fill the gap. Key measures to minimise the gap include community-based approaches to: manage catchment vegetation to reduce sedimentation; maintain the structural complexity of fish habitats; allow landward migration of mangroves as sea level rises; sustain recruitment and production of demersal fish by managing ‘source’ populations; and diversify fishing methods to increase catches of species favoured by climate change. The main adaptions to help fill the gap in fish supply include: transferring some fishing effort from coral reefs to tuna and other large pelagic fish by scaling-up the use of nearshore fish aggregating devices; developing fisheries for small pelagic species; and extending the shelf life of catches by improving post-harvest methods. Modelling the effects of climate change on the distribution of yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, wahoo and mahi mahi, indicates that these species are likely to remain abundant enough to implement these adaptations in most PICTs until 2050. We conclude by outlining the policies needed to support the recommended adaptations.