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2.1 Fisheries and livelihood contexts in the case study countries

2.1.1 Main points in this section

Fisheries management in the context of a sustainable livelihoods approach needs to look wider than the fisheries sector alone, and fisheries management plans and measures need to be flexible so as to adapt to specific and changing circumstances.

2.1.2 Artisanal fisheries in the case study countries

The location of the case study countries - Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea and Ghana - in West Africa are shown on the map below.

Map of West Africa with the case study countries


The table below gives some general information about the countries and their coastal areas (the data is from the FAO Country Profiles). There is clearly a great range between the countries in terms of number of inhabitants and land area, but they have in common that the area of continental shelf and length of coast are considerable.







Number of inhabitants (millions)

(‘98) 2.5

(‘96) 8.5

(‘96) 7.1

(‘96) 17.8

Country area (km2)





Area of continental shelf (km2)





Length of coast (km)





FAO Country Profiles

In all four countries fisheries, especially artisanal fisheries, is an important economic sector in terms of employment, national food security, enterprise development and foreign exchange earnings (see the data in the table below). The figures must be seen in comparison with those in the table above. In Mauritania, the number of artisanal fishers may seem low, but this country has a very low population density; in Ghana, the number of fishers is high, but so is the total population of the country. The number of fishers in Guinea is quite low in comparison to its population. Although the fisheries sector is important in terms of the livelihoods of many rural people and the nutrition of even more, fisheries for some countries represents only a few percent of the Gross Domestic Product.







10.000 artisanal fishers

57.000 artisanal fishers

9.300 fishers, processors, fishmongers, etc.

110.000 fishers

10.330 processors, fishmongers, etc.


290.000 processors, fishmongers, etc.

Per capita consumption per year (kg)





Production (tons/year live weight)





Value of imports (million $EU)





Value of exports (million $EU)





FAO Country Profiles

2.1.3 Vulnerability context in artisanal fisheries in the four countries

The trends of both the general economy and the artisanal fisheries sector are part of the vulnerability context in which fishers operate. These trends can be either positive or negative for fisheries livelihoods. Many of the trends have been positive, certainly in the short term. Artisanal fishing efforts and landings in Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea and Ghana have increased significantly over the past three to four decades. The number of artisanal vessels and their size has increased; the level of motorization has risen. Much more productive and diverse gear is being used, and fishing takes place further out at sea during longer fishing trips. Employment has also increased significantly.

A number of factors in fisheries and other economic sectors has given rise to this impetus to artisanal fisheries, of which just a few will be mentioned here[11]. First of all, liberalisation policies, such as those introduced in Guinea in 1984, have opened access to export markets for high-priced fish. International destinations for fish have concentrated on the European Union and the United States of America. More recently, however, other species of fish are being targeted and processing techniques adapted to suit Asian consumers’ preferences. But local demand for fish is also rising due to population growth and the relatively cheap price for fish in comparison to other animal protein. On the supply side, new fishing techniques are being used. The sector has also grown due to unemployment and drought in inland areas, both of which have led large numbers of people to move from there to coastal areas and the growing fisheries sector.

The fisheries sector is also affected by constraints, which increase fishers’ vulnerability and negatively impact on their livelihoods. Parts of these constraints are a consequence of the unbridled growth described above. An example is over-fishing and reduction of catches for certain species, although some species are not yet or only regionally affected (see box below).

Example of regional variations in exploitation of fisheries resources

The Ministry of Fisheries in Senegal has found different levels of exploitation for different species. Large pelagics and certain demersal fish are overexploited. Small pelagics are overexploited in certain regions.

Within Senegal there are differences in levels of exploitation. The intensely fished Petite Côte region and the area near the Mauritanian border - fished for small pelagics by vessels from European Union (EU) and the ex-Soviet Union - are more affected than the Grande Côte region the area around neighbouring Gambia.

Overfishing is directly impacting fisheries livelihoods through income and profit reduction, increasing competition and conflicts over fishing grounds, fishery resources and markets.

In reaction to signs of over-fishing and increasing international attention for sustainable fishing practices (such as reflected in the CCRF), national fisheries policies which originally aimed to stimulate the sector’s growth[12] have been adapted over the past decade. In addition to these sectoral policies, the effects of Structural Adjustment Programmes introduced in the region since the 1980’s have impacted on artisanal fisheries. Devaluation of national currencies, reduction of subsidies and other macro-economic measures have caused prices for imported goods (including fishing inputs) to rise and prices for local goods to fall. The liberalization policies have also meant that national products have come into competition with international ones. General economic trends such as rising inflation have affected fisheries’ livelihoods. For example, supply of fishing inputs is irregular and often dependent on projects. Fuel, particularly, is rising in cost, irregular in supply, and occasionally runs short during the fishing season, making it more costly and uncertain when and whether fishers can go out to fish. On the other hand, the prices of fish, particularly for the export market, have increased, as has demand for fish.

2.1.4 Fisheries’ livelihood strategies and outcomes

Fishers have developed strategies to protect their livelihoods in general, and to counter the influence of vulnerability aspects such as overfishing, increasing prices and competition. General livelihood strategies fishers have adopted include:

Fishing-related livelihood strategies often consist of:

The box below gives examples of strategies of some boat owners and crew in the face of increasing prices of inputs, increasing competition and reduced profitability of fishing activities.

Examples of strategies to protect fisher livelihoods

In reaction to increasing prices of inputs, increasing competition and reduced profitability of fishing activities, some owners have reduced the number of vessels they operate. Some switch from using industrial vessels to artisanal canoes, which are less costly to run. Still others buy second-hand canoes instead of new ones, repair old engines, buy cheaper types, and save on fuel. Some crew, in order to bring in a maximum catch with relatively low effort, has resorted to destructive fishing practices, such as dynamite.

The first three bullet points on fishing-related livelihood strategies are risk spreading and could be long term strategies. However, the examples in the box show that fishers may develop - or feel forced to develop - strategies that are not in their own long-term interests. For example, saving on fuel and engines or fishing with dynamite may solve profitability problems in the short run, these behaviours can have sea safety, environmental, and other problems as a result.[13] The livelihood outcomes for the people involved result in crew that is more vulnerable to accidents at sea, and owners that risk loosing their boats, their investments, and with it, their source of income. The vulnerability of these groups has thus increased, in the long run.

It is important to note that the country studies clearly show that livelihood strategies and outcomes of fishers are not just fisheries oriented, and are related to other sectors of the economy.[14] The strategies and outcomes are also influenced by factors such as the location, size and type of community they live in. For example, whereas villagers are often isolated and have little access to schools and hospitals, fishers in urban centres may have access to these facilities. But they could see their landing site our housing area threatened by urban development plans.

Relevant questions with respect to the community are: Is the community rural or urban? Is it well connected to towns and markets, so that commercial activities and migration are facilitated? Does it have other natural resources apart from fish and so permit a diversification of livelihood strategies? Does it have physical infrastructure to support the development of social and economic activities? Some of these issues will be briefly mentioned in the section introducing the case studies communities in Section 4 of this study.

2.1.5 Implications for livelihoods-centred fisheries management

The above description of the context shows very clearly that general economic policies and trends in the four countries have greatly impacted artisanal fisheries and fuelled the growth of the sector. It also shows that fisheries are the basis for the livelihoods of thousands of people, yet fisheries tend to contribute only a few percentage points to the Gross Domestic Product. In addition, many fishers have multiple ways of assuring their livelihoods, and fishing is one of a series of strategies. These three points indicate that responsible fisheries management and fisheries policies in the context of a sustainable livelihoods approach needs to look wider than the fisheries sector alone. It also reinforces the fact that supporting poor people’s livelihoods through poverty alleviation and food security will need to be dealt with in a multi-sector approach to be effective.

Within fisheries itself, conflicts and increasing competition for resources, as well as declining profits for some entrepreneurs, support the assumption of this study that there is over-fishing and that this negatively affects fishers’ livelihoods. However, this appears to be true for some types of fisheries, in some regions of a country, and for some resources. Fisheries management therefore needs to distinguish between these fisheries, regions and resources and take relevant measures for each, so as to avoid depletion (or allow recovery of depleted resources) while at the same time optimising exploitation of under-exploited resources. However, it is clear from the above that this is often a difficult task, as fishers have a variety of target species, gear, and fishing strategy, all of which change as new opportunities arise.

Although fisheries laws and regulations may fix some general principles, fisheries policies, management plans and measures need to be flexible and continually updated so as to adapt to:

This implies that governments and other implementing agencies should create or facilitate fisheries management processes of continuous consultation with all parties involved. Even these processes will probably require adjustments and different management mechanisms per region of a country.

2.2 Who are the artisanal fishers?

2.2.1 Main points in this section

The term “artisanal fishers” is too generic for the purpose of analysing participation in fisheries management and the impact thereof on livelihoods.

2.2.2 Distinguishing between artisanal fisher groups

From the country case study reports on MCS in Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea and Ghana, it once more becomes clear that “artisanal fishers” are by no means a homogenous entity. In terms of fisheries and in terms of livelihood strategies, there are important differences between “artisanal fishers”. In terms of fishing, some use specific gear, others use a variety of gear types. The target species, fishing strategies, fishing grounds, time spent at sea per fishing trip, distance from shore, etc. differ accordingly. Some fish in their native village, others migrate seasonally, yet others move elsewhere on a more permanent basis. Industrial and artisanal fisheries are seen as competing fisheries, but it is not uncommon to find artisanal fishers, crew and owners, who used to be or are seasonally active on industrial vessels. Some fish as a main activity, others have other more important economic activities and do not even consider themselves fishers. In other words, the term “artisanal fishers” covers an enormous variety of social groups.

The livelihood strategies and outcomes of each of these groups, as well as their susceptibility to and reactions to vulnerability will necessarily differ. Consequently their interest in and perception of fisheries and fisheries management will differ. The country reports indicate, for example, that migrants and urban-based fishers tend to perceive the ocean as open access, whereas residents (especially with agricultural backgrounds[15]) tend to perceive the sea near the community as community property to which access is controlled by community elders, in parallel to agricultural land. Another example is fishers with active and those with passive gear. Those fishing with passive gear, which remains in the water for some time (such as gill nets), tend to have specific problems as the gear may be stolen or damaged while left in the water (e.g. overnight). Those with active gear (such as handlines or purse seines) do not have this problem, but may find the passive gear getting in the way of their own fishing activities.

These types of issues may cause tensions and conflicts between groups of fishers, especially when different groups are fishing in the same zones or aiming at the same markets. Migrant - resident or ethnic dimensions can become part of a conflict. Also, seasonal or settled migrants are often seen as outsiders by residents, and are often still considered such even though they are present in the community for several generations. They often not only use different fishing gear and strategies, but speak different languages, and live in separate neighbourhoods. Nevertheless, these groups of fishers also have social and economic links between them. Intermarriage may occur, for example.

Political aspects and regional ties between countries add another dimension to fisheries livelihoods, their vulnerability and livelihood options. Whereas Senegal and Ghana tend to have only national fishers, Senegalese and Ghanaian fishers themselves migrate long distances to other countries. It happens with certain regularity that disagreements between national governments over non-fisheries issues lead to the expulsion of migrant artisanal fishers from a country. The failure of some migrant fishers to pay the official fishing duties in the country where they fish also leads to tensions. Even though many migrant fishers have found a way of co-habiting relatively peacefully with residents, they can be particularly vulnerable because of their social position.

2.2.3 Professional groups in artisanal fisheries

Even within each type of fishery, it is possible to distinguish different professional groups. Directly linked to the fishing activity are crew, owners of gear and vessels, and, financiers (of gear, canoes and fishing trips). In the post-capture phase, there are processors, and small and large scale traders.

There is a basic gender division of labour between these professional groups. Crews consist of men, processors and traders mostly consist of women. (There are exceptions: some women do fish, often seasonally, and there are large-scale male fish-traders in Senegal.) Money lending is generally done by processors and traders. These women have an interest in financing fishing trips or giving other credits, as it earns them the first or exclusive right to buy the catches. The credit relationship may be purposely maintained by traders in order to guarantee a continuous supply of fish. The more successful processors or vendors can also become owners. Whether women can do so is very much influenced by social-cultural acceptability thereof within the ethnic group to which she belongs, and therefore varies per community and per country.[16]

Although there are different professional groups with interests which may or may not coincide, it is important to realise that they tend to be interrelated, either directly or by marriage. For example, owners and crew often sell their part of the catch to a blood-relative or a wife. For the sale of the fish, the processors and traders themselves are often organized in such a way that economically more powerful women have younger family members or other women working for them. Together they form a network of contacts far inland to towns where their fish can be sold.[17]

Fisheries management measures will affect the livelihoods of all these professional groups. If, for example, a fisheries management measure results in the reduction of the number of canoes, jobs for crew, catches, and so on, this will mean that an entire family and whole networks of contacts can remain without a basis for their livelihoods. Yet each professional group can perceive fisheries management differently, and can be affected differently by any one measure. Restricting catches of a certain species may drive up the price, which can mean a higher income for the crew and owners of vessels, but lower profits for processors and traders.

However, in fisheries management, these differences are not always taken into account. For example, the country case studies show that “fishers” are often taken to be fishermen, and more particularly boat owners, not crew. The interests and livelihoods of other (fisher) stakeholders are left out, sometimes even without the intention or realization that this is happening.[18]

2.2.4 Implications for livelihoods-centred fisheries management

The existence of different “artisanal fisher” groups with different livelihoods and interests may seem self-evident. Fishers themselves and government fisheries officers working in coastal communities are certainly conscious of this fact. Nevertheless official documents and processes for fisheries management do not reflect this reality. They focus almost entirely on marine resources and some data on fleets.

Fisheries management needs to have the different fisher groups as a main focus and partner to be effective and take fisheries livelihoods into account. Working with the different groups allows management activities to be more specifically designed to each type of fishing, as well as to interactions between different types of fishing.

The implication is that engaging in responsible fisheries management or in a sustainable livelihoods approach requires governments and other agencies to:

in order to:

The above all point to the importance of the participation of artisanal fishers’ in fisheries management planning and execution; they are very aware of the different groups amongst themselves and can evaluate the impact a measure will have on their fishing activities and their livelihoods.

2.3 How are artisanal fishers organized and represented?

2.3.1 Main points in this section

There are local and national artisanal fisher groups and their leaders with whom government can collaborate for livelihoods-centred fisheries management, but it has to be clear exactly who they represent.

2.3.2 Fisher organizations at community level

The existence of organizations and local leadership constitutes strong human assets of fisher communities, although there are obviously variations per community.

At the level of landing sites or fishing communities, there are fisheries organizations that unite individual owners or crew engaged in a certain type of fisheries. For example, one of the case study communities that will be analysed later, (see Section 4.1) Kayar in Senegal, has a Comité de Pêche whose members consist of owners of handline canoes. The same community also has a Commission des sennes tournantes, which consists of fifteen to twenty owners of canoes with purse seines. These organizations tend to have economic advantages from the regulation of fishing activity. An example is a restriction on catches by the group, in order to create a “scarcity” of a certain type of fish in the local market, and increasing the price the group members receive for it. Apart from economic advantages these fisheries or economically oriented organizations tend to have social advantages, amongst other things by carrying out search and rescue at sea and providing a type of social security[19] for family in case of accident or death of a crewmember. As such, membership of such an organization is an important livelihood strategy. It should be noted, however, that the leaders and members of these organizations are often vessel owners and influential persons in the community and are not accessible to the more vulnerable fisher groups. Migrants, for example, are often not a part of such groups, or have their own, separate, groups. The country reports seem to indicate that the economic fisheries-oriented organizations appear to work rather well in comparison to other types of organizations.

Women processors and traders have similar organizations based on an economic activity, mostly for credits and savings. The organizations come in different forms, but generally involve individuals putting a certain amount of money into the group at regular intervals, and one person receiving the total amount, in turn. The system is based on knowledge of the individual character of each of the members, mutual trust and group pressure to participate fairly. They therefore tend to consist of women with a certain age, level of experience and social standing, and not so much of young women who are just starting to sell fish. These savings and credit organizations, too, tend to work rather well.

Thirdly, the country reports indicate a large variety of local networks and organizations based, amongst other things, on age groups or other social and cultural groups or issues. Although not always directly aimed at fisheries, their activities do provide advantages to fisheries’ livelihoods. The age groups, for example, support the financing and organising of costly social occasions such as births, funerals, and marriages. Again, such social or cultural organizations help to reduce the impact of shocks on families and individuals and joining such a group is an important livelihood strategy.

Whereas the organizations described above tend to originate from within the community, a fourth type of organization has often been promoted by projects, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and fisheries administrations (these agencies tend not to work with individuals). These are the co-operatives or similar socio-professional groups. The organizations facilitate the distribution (by projects) of inputs and credit[20] to artisanal fishers, processors, and traders. Once more, there tend to be separate men’s and women’s organizations. Apart from input distribution, advantages of the socio-professional organizations include mutual learning, increased professional credibility amongst colleagues, and again, search and rescue activities. For the women’s organizations, training is generally provided on topics such as small-scale economic enterprises, literacy and numeracy, and so on. Some organizations are part of a network going up to the national level and so ensure national representation of interests.

However, especially amongst the men, this type of organization is often weakened by lack of compliance with financial contributions, low attendance at meetings, poor record keeping, and so on. Only a few individuals tend to benefit from them, and other members loose interest. Among NGO’s and others working in fishing communities, fisher co-operatives are known for poor group cohesion and are notorious for low repayment levels of credits. The women’s organizations, that is those for processors and traders, are normally far more effective. This difference in effectiveness between the men’s and women’s groups has two causes. First of all, it is in part due to the characteristics of fish processing and sale in comparison to fishing itself. Amounts invested in the former are smaller, repayment periods are shorter and generally fall within one fishing season, and group pressure is high, so reimbursement rates are high. Boat owners, on the other hand, need large amounts of money to invest in canoes and gear, which they only repay over a long period of time and no real social pressure is involved. The second reason is that the project-supported women’s organizations resemble the savings and credit groups that women are already used to. The men’s organizations are often not based on existing organizations.

There are, of course, collaborations, rivalries and biases within and between the organizations mentioned above, as each represents the interest of a different social, economic or professional group (or leader). For example, it was observed in various interviews that the younger generation of fishers is trying to avoid being under the elders’ influence by migrating or forming separate associations and interest groups.

There remains the question of which groups and which interests are represented through local organizations such as those mentioned above. Poorer groups, women and young men appear to be underrepresented, if represented at all. Where they are represented, expressing their opinion or voicing their disagreement in gatherings or in the presence of elder and more influential people may not be culturally acceptable. For example, a fishery officer noted that, during meetings of the community based management committee in Ghana, women from the Ewe ethnic group (from the Volta Region) will not speak out, whereas women from Fante communities will.

2.3.3 Fisher leadership at community level

The fieldwork and the four country reports indicate how dependent all the above organizations are on strong leadership. The character, person and enthusiasm of the organization’s president (or another key-person) are essential to making the organization work effectively.

Apart from the leaders at the level of the organizations within the community (such as above) there are, generally speaking, specific leaders or heads at community level. They take care of social and technical issues related to fisheries. They are supported by councils of elders or representatives of different interest groups. They settle internal disputes, ensure the smooth running of activities at the landing site, carry out religious or other ceremonies, and sometimes undertake community development activities. Migrants have to request authorization from these leaders to use the community’s landing site and pay tribute or taxes in the form of part of their catches. The box below gives an example from Ghana.

Chief fisherman and the council of elders in Ghana

In Ghana, each fishing village or landing site has a chief fisherman. He is in charge of fisheries matters at either the community or the landing site level (in the case of communities with more than one landing site) and represents the local fishers at the fishers’ association at the national level. He works with a council of elders, which represent descent groups and/or representatives of gear groups and may or may not have to report back to other community leaders. Chief fishermen are elected, but generally come from a certain clan or family. Women fish processors and traders have a parallel leader and organization.

Although the other three countries do not have the “chief fishermen” system, there tend to be similar positions. But there are also non-fisheries local leaders. To continue with the example from Ghana, the chief fisherman is one amongst a number of “chiefs”: a village chief, a paramount chief, and so on. They all have their own role and functions. Who is higher up in the community decisional hierarchy varies per region of the country, and sometimes one person fulfils more than one leadership role. Struggles for power between such chiefs can have a strong influence on the fisheries management. Where fisheries management measures are seen to enhance the chief fisherman’s (or similar) position, management measures can count on support from the chief fisherman but perhaps protest from a rival. Other chief fishermen (or similar) may fear the management measures will erode their power and do not want to become too involved in them. Some chief fishermen have difficulty with district councils, which are a relatively new structure that they did not have to deal with (or that did not ‘interfere’ with their decisions) before.

Local authorities and fisheries administrations collaborate with community organizations and leaders for issues like fisheries management. (The case studies of Tema, Mumford and Egyan (Ghana) and to some degree, Kayar (Senegal) that will be analysed later on are examples of this (see Section 4.2). There are occasions where fishers’ leaders are at the same time (local) government representatives. To continue with the example of Ghana, a chief fisherman may be member of the District Assembly. Such leaders are in a position of representing fishers’ interests to government and government’s interests to fishers. But there may be occasions where their political interests clash with fisheries interests. Or a leader may be aware of, or have interest in ensuring benefits for one group of local fishers to the detriment of another.

2.3.4 Organization and representation at national level

Information was gathered on national fishers’ associations and NGOs active in fisheries in Senegal and Ghana. The objectives of both fisher associations and NGOs are very similar in that they support fisher representation and improved fisheries livelihoods. Activities consist mostly of support for community fishers’ co-operatives and the supply of inputs such as credits, fishing equipment, and expertise for these groups.

Membership of the artisanal fishers’ associations varies. The members of the main organization in Ghana, the Ghanaian National Canoe Fisherman’s Council (GNCFC), are chief fishermen. Membership is automatic. The chief fishermen represent the fishers of their communities or landing sites. In Senegal, the CNPS[21] has individual members, whereas FENAGIE’s[22] members are economic interest groups (such as fisher co-operatives and associations) at local level. It is not generally clear whether and how the interests of different categories of artisanal fishers are represented by fisher associations: distinctions do not tend to be made between those using different gear types, owners and crew, migrants and residents, etc. However, there are often different activities for men and women, and younger and older fishers. NGOs interviewed consisted of a limited number of persons who may or may not have a background in fishing through working in the fisheries administration.

Individuals generally started NGOs with fisheries activities from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, such as development workers or persons from government administrations. Each of the three fisher associations interviewed during the field visit had different origins:

The origins of both national fishers’ associations and NGOs in Senegal and Ghana lie in the 1990’s, when the political situation and donor pressure in the respective countries provided encouraging conditions. Originally (at the end of the 1980’s and early ‘90s), fisheries administrations were rather cautious of NGOs and artisanal fishers’ associations and their possible political implications in a situation of de facto one-party political systems. But the relationship improved as countries introduced multiparty systems. At present, the fisheries administrations in Ghana and in Senegal are undertaking steps to increase the role of fishers’ associations and NGOs in fisheries management.

Nevertheless, some issues from the past remain. For example, there is a certain degree of rivalry between the two fisher associations in Senegal, which has its roots in political sensitivities of the past between the NGO and the fisheries administration. Also, NGO’s, fisher associations and the same group of international NGO’s and development co-operation agencies generally funds fisheries administration. Donor funds, which were previously channelled through the administration, are now partly allocated directly to NGO’s and artisanal fisher organization. Such concerns sometimes divide these organizations when they could benefit from collaboration.

Both NGO’s and fisher associations are very important in defending fisher’s livelihoods and representing their interests, but there remains the question of who exactly they defend or represent. For example, the origins of NGO’s and fisher associations suggest that (some of) these organizations may in fact be closer in background to the fisheries administration than to fishers. This has positive as well as negative implications. On the one hand it begs the question of how or to what extent they represent the interests of (different) fisher groups. On the other, having links with the fisheries department may put the persons concerned in a good position to negotiate and collaborate with the administration.

Donor influence also raises questions of whose interests are represented. The activities undertaken by both NGO’s and fisher associations are necessarily influenced by the source of funding and priorities of the funders. For example, in Senegal, donor priorities and greater levels of success of activities with women processors and traders have led both artisanal fishers’ associations CNPS and FENAGIE to concentrate on the supply of rotating credits to this target group. Donors can influence activities towards those considered important by them.

In terms of fisheries management, fisher associations and NGO’s fulfil a somewhat ambiguous position. They promote employment or poverty alleviation through increased production, credits and investment in the fisheries sector. Yet they recognise that the sector needs to be better managed and fishing efforts reduced because of over-capitalization. Like with the fisheries administrations’ input support and credit programmes, there does not seem to be a clear strategy on how to deal with such apparently conflicting objectives.

In Ghana there are regular contacts between the administration, NGOs and fishers’ associations with respect to fisheries management. There is a community-based fisheries management project, which supports the role of the chief fisherman and its council of elders for management purposes. But the fishers’ association does not seem to be as politically influential as in Senegal. Both CNPS and FENAGIE have regular contacts with the fisheries administration on artisanal fisheries management and development matters and take part in discussions and meetings. Their political weight would appear to be due to the large size and importance of the fisheries sector, which is larger than in Ghana.

2.3.5 Implications for livelihoods-centred fisheries management

The above shows that a certain number of social assets which could support fisheries management already exists. This implies that governments and other agencies can make use of such existing social assets in fisher communities and at national level. They can work in partnership with fisher organizations and leaders.

Nevertheless, when doing so it is important for these agencies to be aware of who and which interests the organizations and leaders represent and do not represent. Governments should ensure that those who have direct livelihood interests but are not represented in the “standard” organizations, are included in fisheries management decisions.

It is also clear from the above that fisher organizations and leaders are most effective when they have direct interests in an activity because it affects their livelihoods. Thus, it may not be necessary to include all fishers in a region in discussions about a certain fisheries management regulation or mechanism, but only those who are directly affected. Care should be taken in finding out which groups are directly affected and where conflicts of interest might arise.

[11] Chauveau, Jul-Larsen and Chaboud (eds.), 2001 contains a detailed analysis and discussion of factors influencing the development of West African canoe fisheries.
[12] Examples are subsidies on fuel and inputs, investments in infrastructure, and the introduction of new technologies.
[13] See appendix for important causes of accidents at sea in canoe fishing in West Africa as described in the four country studies. For an up-to-date global review of the status of fishermen’s safety, and an assessment of opportunities, constraints and priorities for action see Petursdottir, Hannibalson, and Turner, 2001.
[14] See also Allison and Ellis, 2001.
[15] Gaspart and Platteau, 2000
[16] Overaa, 1998
[17] Overaa, 1998
[18] For a description of aspects related to the cultures of fishing communities, and for methodologies for gathering data see McGoodwin, 2001.
[19] This may consist of help to pay for a doctor’s bill or a funeral. Part of each catch may go to the widow and children of a deceased crew member. The part often decreases over a number of years, and may stop completely after, for example, five years.
[20] This does raise the question to what extent supplying inputs for increased production are not contrary to fisheries management and sustainable livelihood objectives of avoiding over-fishing. See also Allison and Ellis, 2001.
[21] Conseil National de Pêcheurs du Sénégal.
[22] Fédération Nationale de Groupements d’Intérêt Economique.

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