Photo credit: Jason Houston
Small-scale fisheries provide a host of social and economic benefits to local communities. They contribute about half of the global catch; supplying food for local, national and global markets. They are responsible for about ninety percent of fishing employment. They provide income, contribute to food security and nutrition, alleviate poverty, and often support a way of life strongly anchored in local culture and community.
But small-scale and artisanal fisheries face many challenges today including depleted fish stocks; pollution; encroachment from development; climate change, and sea level rise. Many small-scale fishing communities are marginalized, with low levels of access to political power, education and other resources.
To combat these challenges, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) collaborated with governments, Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders to develop a set of ‘Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication’ (SSF). Today at the biennial meeting of the FAO’s Committee on Fisheries in Rome, delegates adopted the SSF Guidelines by consensus. Read More
Recently, I traveled to Belize to see how TURF-reserves (territorial use rights for fishing co-located with no-take zones) are performing and learn about plans to expand them nationwide. The Mesoamerican Reef, the largest in the Atlantic Ocean, spans the Belizean coastline and is rich in biodiversity and a crucial source of income for thousands of fishers. Coastal fisheries, however, are at risk due to overfishing, and other pressures such as coastal development and climate change.
In Belize, fishers have seen a decline in their catch, and the Belize Fisheries Department is using TURF-reserves to provide fishers the right incentives to become better stewards of their resources. As fishers take better care of their fishing area they will realize benefits and secure them for future generations. This approach to fisheries management is known as “Managed Access.” In 2008 the Belize Fisheries Department began working with EDF, Wildlife Conservation Society, the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), and other Belizean institutions to deploy two Managed Access pilot projects.
Motivated by the success of the projects, the Belizean government is committed to expanding Managed Access to nearly half its fishing grounds, setting the country on a course to comprehensively rebuild and conserve its fisheries and precious biodiversity. Read More