FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 479

FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 479

Disaster response and risk
management in the fisheries

Lena Westlund
FAO Consultant

Florence Poulain
FAO Consultant

Hans Bge
Fishery Industry Officer
Fish Products and Industry Division
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
Rome, Italy


Raymon van Anrooy
Fishery Officer
FAO Subregional Office for Central Asia
Ankara, Turkey

Rome, 2007

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The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned

ISBN 978-92-5-105765-0

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© FAO 2007

Westlund, L.; Poulain, F.; Bage, H.; van Anrooy, R.
Disaster response and risk management in the fisheries sector.
FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 479. Rome, FAO. 2007. 56p.


This document gives an overview of FAOs work with regard to natural and human-induced disasters in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, together with the lessons learned and experience gained on how to improve disaster response, preparedness and prevention in these sectors.

Over the last few decades, natural and human-induced disasters have become more frequent and increasingly destructive. Populations depending on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods have become more and more vulnerable and have been seriously affected by loss of life and property. These disasters are beyond the control of the victims. Even before disaster strikes, fishing and aquaculture communities face a multitude of problems that increase their vulnerability to hazards, such as marine and industrial pollution, environmental degradation, overexploitation of natural resources, conflicts with industrial fishing operations and precarious economic situations as a result of poverty and food insecurity. In order to provide adequate disaster response in emergency situations and to help communities to be better prepared and warned of potential threats through preventive disaster risk management (DRM), it is imperative that the particular characteristics of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors and the livelihood contexts of small-scale fishers and fish farmers and their communities be clearly understood from the technical, social and economic points of view.

Disasters cause serious disruption to communities, their governments and society as a whole. In many cases the rehabilitation and reconstruction process necessitates external assistance to guarantee return to basic livelihoods as quickly as possible. Therefore one of the main purposes of this document is to support policy- and decision-makers involved in disaster response and DRM by increasing their effectiveness in addressing the needs of fishers and coastal communities in relation to disasters. The document is divided into two parts: Part 1 describes disasters in the context of the fisheries sector and Part 2 provides recommendations. These practical recommendations are aimed at those involved in assisting fishing communities in emergency disaster rehabilitation and mitigation. It offers guidance for those working in both the fisheries sector and in emergency and disaster relief and management but who may not have pertinent information for the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

Implementation of these guidelines and recommendations should provide the basis for good policy- and decision-making. As a resource guide, it is hoped that the publication will assist governments and those working in disaster and emergency situations to formulate plans to reduce or prevent the risks and impacts of disasters, manage disaster relief operations more effectively and steer the recovery process on to the fastest track, building back better.


Preparation of this document
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Executive summary

Purpose and structure of this report

Concepts and terminology of disasters
Disasters and disaster risk
Types of disasters
Fisheries sector characteristics and vulnerability context
Fishers and fish workers
Source of food and income
Vulnerability of small-scale fishing communities
Summary of disaster impacts on the fisheries sector

The disaster sequence

Summary of recommendations
Disaster impact and needs assessment, and relief and
  emergency response
Rehabilitation, reconstruction and sustainable recovery
Prevention, preparedness and early warning
Concluding remarks