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4. Research priorities to achieve the vision

The issues confronting small-scale fisheries and their research implications in each of the major themes affecting small-scale fisheries have been described in Section 3. This section addresses the major points within each of the same five themes and summarizes, using examples, research questions to be posed.

4.1 Research on policy, legislation, governance and institutional arrangements

Policy is the starting point that sets out the broad objectives and framework to guide relevant decisions, actions and institutional arrangements impacting on small-scale fisheries. It should be recognized that policy is required to address many, often competing, objectives that relate to the conservation and sustainable use of resources, and to economic and social (equity) needs. The main issue is that policy is often poorly articulated both within and outside of the fisheries sector, and this, plus ineffectual institutional arrangements to implement it, often results in the lack of an appropriate framework to guide fisheries management.

In this section, the major areas for research to improve policies and performance of the small-scale fisheries sub-sector are considered in relation to policies per se, but also with respect to institutions and organizations, and processes or instruments of direct relevance to the small-scale fisheries sub-sector:


Institutions and organizations

Processes or instruments

4.2 Research to elucidate the contribution, relevance and importance of small-scale fisheries to national economy and livelihoods

The major issues under this research theme are outlined in Section 3. Research to address these issues recognized: (i) the potential of the sub-sector (including post-harvest and small-scale fish trading activities) in rural and national economic development, (ii) their potential for equity and redistribution (both at national and local levels), (iii) the need to design valuation and communication strategies relating to the importance of small-scale fisheries, and (iv) other social and environmental benefits that could result from a more ‘healthy’ small-scale sub-sector.

In particular:

4.3 Research on the management approaches to small-scale fisheries

There are many approaches to management of small-scale fisheries ranging from the “modernization” paradigm (introduced after the second-world war), through to more recent participatory methods, such as co-management associated with the move to decentralization of government functions. It should also be recognized that the manager of a small-scale fishery has a large and diverse number of tools (including allocation, economic and social tools) that can be utilized, but with little guidance on what may be appropriate and effective. There is a continuing requirement to monitor and evaluate progress against fisheries management objectives and the crucial role of MCS in small-scale fisheries is highlighted.

To address these issues, research is required to address; (i) higher level/overarching approaches and concepts, (ii) fisheries management approaches, (iii) management tools, (iv) monitoring and evaluation of management approaches, and (v) MCS. The major research issues are given as follows (for more detailed questions relating to management types, see Appendix A):

4.4 Research on post-harvest issues and trade

Both intra-regional and international trade is becoming increasingly important to small-scale fisheries. The decentralized nature of small-scale fisheries could result in substantial employment generation, and household food security as well as retention of resource rents by fishing communities. This calls for increased investment in post-harvest activities to benefit from the new opportunities. New research is required to inform decisions on potential trade-offs e.g. between export-orientated versus local or regional demand. An analysis of potential trade impacts must be undertaken if the potential benefits from global trade are to be realized, or existing benefits preserved.

Since the research topics seek to identify what may be gained or lost from post-harvest chains and increased global trade, they mirror, in part, the research activities designed to identify the contribution, role and importance of small-scale fisheries. They are:

4.5 Research and required action to develop information systems for small-scale fisheries

While not exactly a research theme in its own right (although there are many research aspects) the development of a Fisheries Information System (FIS) warrants separate attention, as this is both a critical component in bridging the gap between research and action, and provides an effective framework for identifying needs of various information users (ranging from informing policy decision-makers right through to implementing technology for individual fishers, processors and marketers).

The FIS provides the context for examining the needs, processes, inputs and outputs of different user groups in a hierarchical structure that covers the macro-, meso-, and micro-scales and the linkages between them (both in aggregating data and information upwards for use at higher levels in the hierarchy and downwards in terms of providing feedback, especially to the suppliers of the data). A range of issues are identified, especially in relation to integrating qualitative and quantitative data, techniques to improve information flow, collecting and using traditional knowledge, linkages between levels in the hierarchy and the need to review and make existing data and information accessible.

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