For Pacific Island communities, social change has always been a part of their socio-political lives, while environmental changes were always transient and reversible, so that they understood and engaged with their ocean as a provider for food, culture and life. However, recent unprecedented and irreversible changes brought on by global climate change challenge this norm and alter their lagoons and adjacent oceans into unfamiliar territories. Climate change already is affecting, and has been projected to continue to disproportionately impact, Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) through rising temperatures, sea-level rise, saltwater intrusion of freshwater resources, coastal erosion, an increase in extreme weather events, altered rainfall patterns, coral reef bleaching, and ocean acidification. While knowledge is building about potential impacts on ecosystems and some target stocks, there is little information available for communities, governments and regional institutions on how to respond to these changes and adapt. What are the consequences for marine conservation, fisheries management and coastal planning at local, national and regional scales? What strategies and policies can best support and enable responses to these challenges across different scales? What opportunities exist to finance necessary climate change adaptation and mitigation measures? To consider these urgent issues, this paper synthesises innovative research methods, and studies many of the looming scientific, policy and governance challenges from a diversity of perspectives and disciplines.
The sustainable livelihood framework is a widely used approach to analyze changes in rural livelihoods, especially in resource dependent communities. The framework emphasizes that given a certain situation where the livelihood context, resources and institutions remain favourable, livelihood strategies carried out by people could possibly lead to two different outcomes. One, the results of livelihood strategies will produce sustainable outcomes providing affected households respite from the impacts of livelihood loss. Two, there is a possibility that resulting outcomes may not be sufficient to reverse livelihood crisis and may not necessarily result in sustainable livelihood because of the complexities, uncertainties and multilevel drivers associated with it. This paper aims to evaluate both these possibilities through use of empirical data to clarify factors and conditions that may impede sustainable livelihood outcomes despite well planned strategies. It highlights that availability of more resources (or capitals) do not necessarily contribute to more robust livelihood strategies or outcomes. Using the case of small scale fishery-based livelihood system of Chilika Lagoon, Bay of Bengal in the East coast of India, this paper suggests that the relationship between livelihood shocks and stresses, capitals, institutions and livelihood strategies is circular and not linear.
Extensive household and village level survey data are used to examine the processes of social-ecological change in Chilika from a livelihood perspective. It describes how through changes in context, resources and institutions, fishers in Chilika responded to the livelihood crisis, and how various strategies were used. It further examines the extent to which the outcomes of the strategies contributed to making fisher livelihoods sustainable. Conclusions drawn suggest that the outcomes of the livelihood crisis and responses from Chilika fishers have resulted in higher levels of their disconnection from the Lagoon and their marginalization. The multiplicity of ways through which fishers in Chilika perceive their livelihood suggest that livelihood in resource dependent communities, such as Chilika small-scale fisheries, is multidimensional and far more complex and dynamic than often perceived. Further innovations in approaches and tools will help better understand livelihood challenges and make related outcomes sustainable.
Data scarcity in small-scale fisheries hinders the effective management of marine resources. This is particularly true within small island developing states that often have limited capacity for monitoring activities that could inform policy decisions. This study estimates the spatial distribution of fishing activity in the data-poor nearshore reef fisheries of Barbados using low cost interview surveys of fishers combined with a geospatial platform. With data from over 150 fishers in the island's major reef fisheries, the estimated total annual yield ranged from 272.6 to 409.0 mt, with seine fishing accounting for 65% of landings. This estimate is substantially higher than the recorded landings in official databases. Fishing activity is concentrated on the sheltered and heavily populated West Coast of the island. Reef fishing effort decreases markedly during the months associated with the offshore pelagic fishery season, as many fishers switch fisheries during this time and rough sea conditions restrict access to the nearshore windward reefs. The high levels of fishing intensity and low yields per unit of reef area appear to validate anecdotal evidence that the nearshore reefs of Barbados are heavily overexploited. The qualitative nature of interview data and other data gaps hinder the precise estimation of fishing effort and yield, where relative values are likely to be more accurate than absolute values. Nonetheless, the spatially and temporally explicit data generated here demonstrates how simple cost-effective methods can be used to fill important information gaps for marine resource management and spatial planning.
Small-scale fisheries are undeniably important for livelihoods, food security and income around the globe. However, they face major challenges, including global market and demographic shifts, policy changes and climate variations that may threaten the wellbeing, health and safety of fishing communities. Over the years, various forms of spatial management have been implemented in small-scale fisheries as a potential solution to problems afflicting these systems. The benefits of such approaches can be numerous for both ecosystems and coastal communities. In addition to the persistent challenges influencing small-scale fisheries practices, the emerging effects of climate change pose serious risks to coastal ecosystems and fishing communities, especially in low-lying islands. Despite a growing recognition of both the benefits of spatial management and the adverse effects of climate change on small-scale fisheries, integration of these concepts in a consistent and comprehensive way has not yet occurred. Spatial management has the potential to foster small-scale fisheries adaptation to climate change, however, in the face of such a global and transboundary phenomenon, management strategies will need to be carefully designed and implemented. First, key considerations for climate-informed spatial management in small-scale fisheries were identified. Second, these key considerations were illustrated in two selected case studies in Pacific Island countries and territories (i.e. Fiji and Papua New Guinea). Finally, the challenges associated with spatial management in a changing climate are discussed and ways forward for advancing this type of management as a climate adaptation approach for small-scale fisheries in the Pacific and beyond are proposed.
Fisheries usually first remove large predators before switching to smaller species, causing lasting changes to fish community structure. Reef fish provide essential protein and income for many people, and the impacts of commercial and high-intensity subsistence fishing on reef fish are well documented. However, how fish communities respond to low levels of subsistence fishing using traditional techniques (fishing for food, few fishers) is less well understood. We use three atolls in the Marshall Islands as a model system to quantify effects of commercial and subsistence fishing on reef fish communities, compared to a near-pristine baseline. Unexpectedly, fish biomass was highest on the commercially-fished atoll where the assemblage was dominated by herbivores (50% higher than other atolls) and contained few top predators (70% lower than other atolls). By contrast, fish biomass and trophic composition did not differ between pristine and subsistence-fished atolls – top predators were abundant on both. We show that in some cases, reefs can support fishing by small communities to provide food but still retain intact fish assemblages. Low-intensity subsistence fishing may not always harm marine food webs, and we suggest that its effects depend on the style and intensity of fishing practised and the type of organisms targeted.
- Presents perceptions of governance systems impacting the small-scale fishery.
- Presents perceptions of foreign fishing activities in Somalia's waters.
- Examines perceptions of the influence of Somalian piracy on the fishery.
- Explores factors related to compliance in the evolving fishery governance system.
- Tests of a model of compliance indicate significant interregional variability.
Marine ecosystems play a central role in economic and social life in the Republic of Palau, a Small Island Developing State in the Western Pacific. Marine resources underpin subsistence and commercial fisheries, as well as tourism activities, contributing substantially to Palau's GDP and employment. Since 1992, Palau has been actively developing conservation initiatives to protect marine resources, promote ecotourism, and ensure revenue generation. Marine reserves represent a particularly important tool in the country's sustainable development strategy. In 2015, Palau designated 80% of its marine EEZ as a National Marine Sanctuary, with the remaining 20% slated for domestic fisheries. That same year, Palau received 160 thousand tourists, over 9 times the country's population. In early 2017, the President proposed a bill effectively limiting budget travel and actively promoting high-end tourism. This study uses a quantitative social-ecological model to explore policy scenarios involving tourism, marine conservation and local food security. While climate change had the largest expected impact on local ecosystems, reef fish consumption contributes considerably to future projected declines in marine resources. Therefore, for Palau to achieve its goals of boosting revenues while sustainably stewarding marine resources, it will be necessary to transfer some level of consumption from reef fish on to tuna and other pelagics. Such changes, which align with the current proposal of developing an offshore national fishery as part of the Sanctuary's management plan, may allow Palau to meet future seafood demand, while protecting reef systems and the industries that rely on them.
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.