Credit: John Rae
Cast your mind forward – 10, 15, 50 years. What do you see? The world around us is changing: resource needs are transforming alongside a booming global population. Technology is evolving exponentially, informing how we respond to daily life. Our planet’s climate and the delicate balance of our oceans are under threat.
With over 3 billion people in this changing world relying on oceans for sustenance, where do fish, and fishing, fit into this future?
The world’s oceans have never been higher up the political agenda. Three major international events on ocean governance took place in the last month: the second UN Preparatory Committee on a legally binding instrument for the high seas; the IUCN global congress; and the star-spangled Our Ocean Conference, addressed by President Obama, COP21 President Ségolène Royal, and Leonardo DiCaprio (to name a few). Meanwhile, in London, HRH The Prince of Wales recently convened a meeting – through his International Sustainability Unit (ISU) – to ‘take stock’ of the global transition to sustainable fisheries, and scan the horizon for emerging challenges and opportunities. (Read the full meeting report here).
Fisheries and the future
A keynote speaker at the ISU event projected a global population of 18 billion, and a human life expectancy of 300 years (just around the corner – think your grandchildren, or their children). Another speaker forecast a 60 million ton shortage in seafood products in comparison to demand, within a generation. In a world where billions (often in the most food-insecure nations) rely on protein from fish and other seafood, this vastly increased pressure on resources paints a bleak picture for global fisheries and food security. But we see a brighter future where we can rebuild global fisheries for more fish, more food and more prosperous fishing communities. Read More
Photo credit: Jason Houston
Many of the world’s fish are caught in small-scale fisheries that lack data about the health of fish populations, giving managers very limited information to base management decisions on. In turn, most of these fisheries appear to be under-performing with respect to conservation, the amount of food they can produce, the amount of money they can generate, and the quality of the livelihoods they can support. There is a perception that these fisheries cannot be assessed without large amounts of data. Because of this perception, many fisheries remain unassessed, ineffectively managed or not managed at all leading to under performance or even collapse.
Fortunately, there are alternatives: fishermen and women, community members, managers and scientists are collaborating to bridge the data gap for these important fishing communities; increasing knowledge and resources for effective fishery assessment and management. While these collaborations have started to fill in the gaps, we still need input from fishery managers and practitioners for a complete picture of the data.
In collaboration with small-scale fisheries around the world, we are beginning to collect information on the pathway and tools employed in actions of science-based fishery co-management in small-scale, data-limited contexts. Read More
Credit: Pam Ruiter
For the last three years, Environmental Defense Fund Europe has been working in partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Spain through a nation-wide project focusing on the sustainability of small-scale coastal fisheries. Small-scale fishing is the lifeblood of many coastal Spanish communities. In order to preserve this way of life it is critical to understand how these fisheries are doing biologically. As in small-scale fisheries worldwide, many Spanish coastal fisheries have limited information available to work with, and a stronger link between science and management could be made. Read More
Photo: Alexis Rife
Cozumel, Mexico might be better known for its diving and tourism, but it’s also home to some of the most successful fishing cooperatives and TURFs in the world. In a recent trip with our partners Rare and the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UCSB, we met with fishing cooperatives from Mexico to learn from these fishers and communities about successful TURF-Reserve models and conditions that have contributed to their success. It was an amazing opportunity to share learnings and experiences cross-country (and truly, around the globe).
First, some background on cooperatives. A cooperative is a group of fishers who communicate about and coordinate their fishing activity to meet their goals. Cooperatives can perform a range of activities, from coordinating fishing activities to participating in co-management, and even marketing their products. Successful cooperatives also sustainably manage their fishery so that the species are healthy and simultaneously provide for sustainable livelihoods for fishers.
Fishing cooperatives can be especially critical to sustainable fisheries management, especially in areas where governance is weak. Many cooperatives also invest a portion of their profits in community projects, which increases awareness of the importance of fishing resources as an important source of income and prosperity for the community as a whole. Read More
By: Erica Cunningham
Brazil represents one of South America’s most important countries in terms of small-scale fisheries. The country boasts one of the longest coastlines on the continent and more than 60 percent of landings come from artisanal fishing. In addition, 98 percent of registered fishers in Brazil are small-scale. However, the country remains a net importer of seafood and 80 percent of all fishing activities are considered to be unsustainable in terms of management. Beyond the science, there is real urgency to addressing this issue. Billions of people in Brazil and around the world, often the poorest and most marginalized, depend on fish for protein. The combination of these factors make Brazil a perfect country for the Fish Forever partnership. Read More
Belizean fisherman diving for conch and lobster. Photo credit: Jason Houston
More than 90% of the world’s 36 million fishers operate in small-scale fisheries—many of which are in developing countries. From sea to plate, these small-scale fisheries support more than 100 million jobs across the supply chain and produce half of the world’s seafood for local and global markets.
But as the world’s population increases and the demand for seafood rises, the supply for wild caught fish is plummeting. As a result, many small-scale fishing communities face job and food security threats and unfortunately lack access to the tools they need to sustainably manage their fisheries.
Developed by Environmental Defense Fund, a Framework for Integrated Stock and Habitat Evaluation (FISHE) equips fishermen and marine scientists with a swift, low-cost and highly effective method with which to assess and manage fisheries that lack sufficient fishing data. Read More