Small-scale fisheries

Capture fisheries will continue to supply most of the fish consumed in much of the developing world in the coming decades. The majority of these fisheries are small-scale, operating in rivers, lakes and wetlands, and in in coastal seas. But pressures from within and external to small-scale fisheries threaten sustainability and the equitable distribution of the livelihood and nutritional benefits they provide.

The sustaining Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) flagship focuses on developing, refining and scaling strategies to improve governance of SSF amid social, economic and ecological changes and innovations that sustain and increase contributions to food and nutrition security and livelihoods of the poor.

To answer this, the SSF Flagship conducts research and delivers research outcomes in three clusters:

  1. Resilient coastal fisheries
  2. Fish in multifunctional landscapes
  3. Fish in regional food systems

Research is focused in countries with low and medium Human Development Indicators and high dependence on fish for food, where aquaculture is in early stages of development but needs accelerated growth to fill projected shortfalls, or where aquaculture is already established but opportunities exist to sustainably intensify to the supply levels required to meet growing domestic or regional demand.

Resilient coastal fisheries

Coastal small-scale fisheries produce approximately half the fish consumed in the developing world and employ 47 million people, about a third of whom are women (Mills et al. 2011).

To sustain the food security and poverty alleviation functions of coastal SSF, FISH research activities focus on:

  1. Strengthening co-management
  2. Building alternative and improved livelihood strategies to reduce poverty and alleviate pressure on coastal fisheries
  3. Spreading co-management and livelihood innovations via novel, strategic networking
  4. Investing in the enabling environment via regional policy forums.

Research is focused on Solomon Islands, Tanzania and Vietnam. Research includes country-specific and comparative analyses; and gender-disaggregated catch surveys, interviews and focus groups. To realize impact at scale, we invest in partnerships and networks, and engage in policy discussions to better protect SSF functions.

Fish in multifunctional landscapes

FISH research addresses how fisheries in estuaries, rivers, wetlands, man-made water bodies and rice fields can be sustained in landscapes where natural variability, land-use changes, hydropower development and climate change are major challenges. Additional localized challenges include access rights, power dynamics and decisionmaking, and distribution of benefits in terms of gender and social equity among poor and marginalized people.

FISH takes an interdisciplinary approach to interventions, combining ecological, hydrological and governance research and providing an understanding of how poor women, men and youth manage risks and realize opportunities. Tools to negotiate tradeoffs and synergies between fish production and alternative landscape uses will also be considered.

Research cuts across scales, linking with and informing national as well as regional development and policy processes. This research is focused on Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and Zambia.

Fish in regional food systems

Large-scale dynamics and external drivers such as trade, the rise of aquaculture, regional governance and global environmental change will have profound impacts on fish supply and demand. And on how the benefits of growing, catching and consuming fish are enhanced and multiplied by trade.

FISH aims to build the evidence base needed to influence policy that enables productive and equitable SSF. Research focuses on the governance of fish food systems and alternative future trajectories for selected systems and intraregional trade.

Research will include:

  1. Foresight modeling and participatory scenario development to understand the dynamics of fish in two contrasting food systems: The Pacific and the lower Mekong
  2. Assessing global and largescale regional trends in fish supply and demand in Africa and Asia
  3. Case studies of fish trade systems in the African Great Lakes corridor and the Mekong Delta.