The small-scale fisheries sub-sector is characterized, therefore, by its dispersed nature, the poor and marginalized people who are involved with it as fishers or in the post-harvest chain, and its positive and negative links with the wider fisheries sector and the environment. For small-scale fisheries to contribute more significantly to poverty alleviation, employment, food security and income generation it will be necessary to make small-scale fisheries more efficient, and in some cases less damaging to the associated cultural and resource assets.
Efficient small-scale fisheries provide a means of enhancing equity and the redistribution of rent from fisheries across relatively large numbers of stakeholders. Improved policy for small-scale fisheries, and appropriate attention to the post-harvest sector, could have the benefit of mainstreaming womens and gender concerns in development policy and planning. There may be spillover effects on other aspects of development policy including health, community empowerment, labour migration and integrated planning of land and water use. There are thus specific opportunities to tackle aspects of poverty alleviation, livelihood-related possibilities and development through small-scale fisheries. Enhancing the efficiency of the sub-sector will help address the Millennium Development Goals and targets (set by the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Johannesburg 2003) in many countries of the world.
Small-scale fisheries are not easily managed by centralized authorities, and the development of decentralized forms of management is likely to be required, along with appropriate information systems. Small-scale fisheries are, however, confronted with the same issues of access, property rights, sustainability of resource levels, governance, trade and globalization, and alignment with international agreements, with which fisheries as a whole are challenged. Given these influences, what is the vision for small-scale fisheries in the future?
A vision for small-scale fisheries
The vision for small-scale fisheries is one in which their contribution to sustainable development is fully realized. It is a vision where:
they are not marginalized and their contribution to national economies and food security is recognized, valued and enhanced;
fishers, fish workers and other stakeholders have the ability to participate in decision-making, are empowered to do so, and have increased capability and human capacity, thereby achieving dignity and respect; and
poverty and food insecurity do not persist; and where the social, economic and ecological systems are managed in an integrated and sustainable manner, thereby reducing conflict.
|  World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD) - see http://www.johannesburgsummit.org/|
 This vision for small-scale fisheries was developed by the ACFR Working Party following review of the key issues and options for improved management in the context of multiple uses of marine, estuarine and inland waters and the ecosystem approach to fisheries, with special emphasis on poverty alleviation and food security in developing countries.