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Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission

A research agenda for small-scale fisheries

Category Development & policy advice

FAO/RAP/FIPL, 2004. A research agenda for small-scale fisheries. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand. RAP PUBLICATION No. 2004/21 and FIPL/C 10009 (En) 42 pp.

Small-scale fisheries make an important contribution to nutrition, food security, sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation, especially in developing countries. Despite this significant contribution, the issues constraining the sustainable development of small-scale fisheries remain poorly understood. FAO has recently developed a vision for small-scale fisheries where: their contribution to sustainable development is fully realized. It is a vision where small-scale fishers and fish workers are not marginalizes and their contribution to national economies and food security is recognized, valued and enhanced. It also recognises that these people should be empowered to participate in decision-making with dignity and respect through integrated management of the social, economic and ecological systems underpinning small-scale fisheries. To achieve this vision, a range of issues will need to be addressed, supported by timely and accurate information on which to base decisions and action. These issues are grouped around five major themes:

policy, legislation, governance and institutional arrangements; contribution, role and importance of small-scale fisheries; management approaches to small-scale fisheries; post-harvest issues and trade; and Information systems.

This publication provides analyses of the above issues and develops a research agenda to address identified information gaps. These include research on fisheries policies and legislation and their relevance to small-scale fisheries, linkages between small-scale fisheries and large-scale fisheries, linkages with other sectors, structure and institutional arrangements in small-scale fisheries, trade-offs between policy objectives, how to measure the contribution of small-scale fisheries, how to tailor fisheries management to the small-scale sub-sector, improving post-harvest and trade for small-scale fisheries products, and developing information systems that organize the information in a form that is useful and relevant to the different stakeholders. A much greater emphasis is placed on socioeconomic research to augment the more biotechnical approach adopted in the past.

The final section provides a discussion on strategies and mechanisms to bridge the gap between research and action, a step vital to the implementation of policies and management actions to address the issues in small-scale fisheries.