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The objective of the working group was to identify the issues and obstacles to sustainability of large-volume small pelagic fisheries in the light of the factors of unsustainability identified by participants in the Bangkok workshop, identify lessons learned and consider possible paths to solutions. The working group reviewed the potential causes of unsustainability at the bio-ecological, economic, institutional and social levels.

Large volume small pelagic species are generally short-lived, shoaling fish that are often harvested in large quantities. These stocks are typically characterised by large natural variations in abundance, and hence catch. This occurs both at the annual and decadal scales through variations in recruitment levels and regime shifts respectively. Small pelagic stocks create additional challenges to management as they are often migratory, and hence are shared stocks, and as they usually occur close to the shore and are harvested by large-scale commercial fleets and small-scale coastal fishers. They are also often key-stone species affecting the sustainability of other fisheries and the ecosystem in general.

Governance issues are generally similar to those in other types of fisheries, in particular regarding the limited legitimacy of many current management strategies and the lack of skilled and trained management and research practitioners. As with many other large-scale commercial fisheries, the application of incentives (especially exclusive rights), provision of sufficient resources (both financial and human), development of assessment tools and reference points, and the implementation of effective management strategies are important. However, these must be able to cope with the large changes in abundance that occurs in small pelagic stocks. This therefore, requires an adaptable management strategy that can deal with the large risks and uncertainties inherent in these fisheries. Similarly, the industry should also be sufficiently malleable and versatile to deal with large variations in catches, in terms of fishing and processing capacity, and labour. The working group considered that one of the key requirements of all sectors of the industry was stability and that this was difficult to achieve given the bioecological dynamics of these types of resources. Nevertheless it was suggested that management strategies should be aimed achieving stability and at mitigating the effects of variations in catch.

It is especially important in this sector that investigations to improve the understanding of the functioning of the ecosystem are conducted and in particular that the consequences of different management strategies are understood. These ecosystem considerations need to be taken into account in management. The current lack of understanding of such processes is a good example of a situation where precautionary management strategies should be applied.

More attention should be given to research to determine the stock structures of stocks that are shared to enable appropriate management arrangements to be developed to maximise the benefits from the resource and achieve optimum utilisation. When several different fleets are targeting the same resource, management arrangements need to be developed to ensure sustainability. This can be achieved through the appropriate division of the resource via allocation of rights, improved MCS, development of clear management objectives and where applicable meaningful co-management strategies.

In identifying the issues and obstacles to sustainability, the working group considered that, in relation to large-volume small pelagic fisheries, the most important factors of unsustainability were complexity and variability, inadequate knowledge, interactions of the fishery sector with other sectors and the environment, and lack of appropriate governance. The working group also considered, however, that the interactions between factors were complex and that many of the issues, obstacles and solutions identified related to more than one of the factors of unsustainability. The following table shows the factors, issues and possible paths to solutions, and the relationships between them, as determined by the working group.




Issues and obstacles


Paths to solutions

1 Complexity


Large natural variations in abundance

Environmental fluctuations and regime shifts


Better understanding of resource dynamics & availability
Adaptive management
Develop environmental indices for prediction
Manage resources to promote stability of catches
Improved research
Manage resources regionally
Fleet malleability


Migrations across borders making sharing arrangements difficult

2, 3

Manage resources regionally
Fleet malleability


Stock and management units not the same

2, 3

Co-operation for research and management


Inappropriate stock assessment methods

Direct surveys
Standardization of assessment methodology


Aggregating behaviour (catchability not = abundance decline) with inappropriate perceptions/credibility of stock size



Small pelagics are often (usually) key-stone species affecting sustainability of other fisheries and ecosystems in general


Take ecosystem relationships into account in management
Improved research

2 Interactions


Small pelagics are often (usually) key-stone species affecting sustainability of other fisheries and ecosystem in general


See 1f
Collaboration between research/management organizations


Large-scale social disruptions, e.g. AIDS, war, poverty

1, 3, 4

Policy and planning to take into account


Increasing demand from agri+ aqua-culture for fish & fishmeal


Rights-based fisheries

3 Lack of governance


Inequity of fisheries access agreements between developed and developing nations, including overexploitation

1b, c

Development of bilateral/sub-regional arrangements


Lack of co-operation & international governance over shared stocks

1b, c

Explore avenues for formal co-operation, particularly research and MCS

International co-operation in small pelagics not often perceived as necessary
Jurisdiction areas inappropriate
Mandates of RFOs do not address the full-range of unsustainability issues



Conflict between industrial and small-scale fisheries, including focus on industrial sector and lack of information on small-scale sector

Division of resources (rights)

Improved MCS
Improved statistics on small-scale fisheries


Lack of equity, disparity of wealth

Policy and planning to take into account


Lack of legitimacy of decision-making process

Lack of participation
Resistance to co-management
Lack of understanding (by fishers) of management concepts
Lack of transparency


Explore meaningful co-management strategies
Foster responsible behaviour and compliance
Appropriate incentives, e.g. rights-based fishery
Education/awareness/information sharing
Training and capacity building


Lack of support (funding) to institutions

Allocation of sufficient resources


Lack of enforcement of decisions (not as critical as other fisheries)

By-catch of juveniles, both small-scale and large-volume?

Transparent, participatory management


Lack of NPOAs, conflicting objectives

Develop management objectives, including establishment of appropriate reference points, explicit in NDPs


Lack of research and management capacity for adaptable management to deal with large changes in abundance


Allocation of sufficient resources Development of easily detectible indices


Conflict between aims of fisheries and developing agencies leading to over-investment in fishing capacity


Development of appropriate reference points, use of decision-theory (tables) to acknowledge possible state of nature, estimate risk of exceeding limit-reference points with alternative management strategies, development OMPs


National development is measured by increases in fishing capacity -catch and effort not linear


4 Poverty


Labour intensive processing factories, therefore pressures to maintain fishing

Develop management strategies to cope with variability, e.g. emergency assistance funds


Food security

Investigate possibility for adding value to products
Use of underutilized species for human consumption (see also 3b)
Development of alternatives, e.g. aquaculture


Destructive fishing methods as last resort when fish scarce

Foster responsible behaviour and compliance

5 Inappropriate incentives


Loan-decisions based on historical performance not future stock projections

Better information to financial institutions


Subsidies, especially in fully or over-exploited fisheries

Eliminate such subsidies


Salary bonuses demand high catches


Assign secure rights

6 High demand


High demand for limited resources is not usually a factor, but can be


Promote regional cooperation to use excess capacity


Industry desires stability

Manage resources to promote stability of catches


Large volumes are a requirement in industrial (fishmeal)




The objectives of this working group are to:

1. List obstacles to sustainability and identify which are most applicable to small pelagic fisheries

2. Identify possible paths of solutions on the basis lessons learned


The tunas are listed as highly migratory species in the 1982 UN Convention and most of them have an extensive distribution on the high seas. Although total catches amount to less than five percent of world marine fish catches, their value has been estimated to amount to nearly one fifth of their total value.

The oceanic tuna species are loosely categorised into the tropical and temperate tunas. They exhibit a wide range of life histories, ranging from the skipjack, which have a short lifespan, high fecundity and wide distribution in tropical seas, to the bluefin tunas which are long lived, breed late and have well defined breeding and migration patterns. In consequence, skipjack are generally accepted to be very resilient to overexploitation, while bluefin are very vulnerable, all the more because of their extremely high market value. The other species tend to be more intermediate.

Because of their wide ranging distribution, tunas require international management. The mandates for regional tuna fisheries management organizations provide for measures that are binding on their members to a varying degree, but their mandates are generally limited to biological aspects of fishery resource management. Some have mandates which cover environmental issues, while few have any economic or social mandate.

However, the pressure by tuna fisheries on these stocks, especially for species of high value, is still increasing. All fishing zones are now actively fished by multiple fleets and gears. It now appears that most or all tuna stocks will soon be facing serious risks of excessive exploitation, unless proactive and efficient management measures are taken in all oceans. This has obliged various tuna Commissions to take proactive management actions. This management should be coordinated worldwide as a wide majority of tuna catches are taken by highly mobile tuna fleets that are able to move quickly between oceans (as was observed in 1984 when the Atlantic purse seine fleet moved massively to the Indian Ocean).

The Working Group (WG) reviewed the potential causes of unsustainability at the institutional bio-ecological, economic and social levels following the factors identified in the Bangkok workshop. These were classified in perceived order of importance, both as regards the factors themselves, and in relation to the issues for each factor. The table below shows the factors, issues and possible path to solutions, together with comments to explain the context of the issues identified.

The first factor of potential unsustainability identified by the Working Group relates to the lack of effective governance. The major issue identified in this field was the lack of real political will expressed by both contracting and non-contracting parties to address management.

Despite the provisions of the UN Fish Stock Agreement, many fishing countries or entities are not yet members of relevant tuna Commissions. Furthermore, in most oceanic areas, increasingly large numbers of IUU vessels are targeting the most valuable tuna stocks (e.g. bigeye or bluefin), without reporting their catch nor taking into account international management and conservation measures adopted for tuna stocks. Furthermore, the existence of these large IUU fleets is often an excuse for some countries member of a regional fisheries organization to postpone the adoption and implementation of management decisions. It was also noted that this lack of willingness to take management actions is reinforced by the present lack of an agreed system for the allocation fishing rights.

Another problem identified as an issue in the governance of most tuna fisheries was the question of resource allocation between developed and developing States. While distant water fishing nations wish to maintain or to develop their fisheries, many coastal developing States show a legitimate will to develop their own tuna fisheries. This situation creates increasing conflicts within the various tuna Commissions, as many tuna stocks are nowadays, either fully exploited or close to be fully exploited. Also identified as a key issue was the vulnerability of some developing States, particularly some small island developing States, which are critically dependent on the exploitation of tuna stocks, including for reasons of food security as well as economic development.

The second factor considered by the WG as being of key importance were the various types of potential interaction involving the tuna fisheries. To the public, the most visible of these potential interactions are probably the by-catches and accidental mortality of sensitive species such as turtles, birds, dolphins and sharks which might lead to closures or restrictions on certain fisheries. Efficient research and active cooperation of fishers could, in most cases, reduce these accidental mortalities.

Another important potential interaction is that between fisheries, involving the long term effects on tuna stocks of purse seine fisheries using Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), primarily targeting skipjack tunas. Large numbers of juvenile bigeye tunas are often taken under FADs, with the risk of impacting on the catch by the longline fisheries of the far more valuable adults. While the impacts of this interaction are still uncertain and complex to evaluate and predict, there is a global need to reduce the mortality of juvenile bigeye in the FAD fishery.

A third factor is the complexity of tuna stock assessment. Assessments are difficult because of the high mobility of the stocks throughout the oceans and the great depth at which they occur. Uncertainties exist also with regard to the stock structure and the movement patterns (e.g. the proportion of a fish stock moving between various areas). Assessments are therefore, heavily dependent on fishery-related data. Another difficulty faced by all tuna bodies is to estimate the increase of fishing efficiency in tuna fleets world wide.

The dynamics of the tuna markets were recognized as an issue leading to increasing pressure on stocks. Prices of tuna species sold to canneries (skipjack and yellowfin) have been stable or declining during recent years and this has driven to increased catches to maintain expensive fleets in operation. Conversely, tuna species that are used for sashimi (mainly bigeye and bluefin) are sold at increasing prices as catches decline, increasing the fishing pressure upon stocks that are often already being overexploited.

Inappropriate incentives have been widely observed for many tuna fisheries; these incentives are clearly working against a durable exploitation of tuna resources. The major issue identified was the subsidies given to tuna fisheries. These subsidies should be eliminated for all tuna stocks that are already fully exploited or overfished (and when increased effort would only leads to reduced CPUE and reduced catches).

Poverty in some coastal countries was noted as an additional factor to consider. Tuna fisheries are mainly active in the inter-tropical areas where many countries are still in a developing status. Various potential interactions were noted between tuna fisheries and local poverty. Some of these interactions are positive and they should be encouraged when others may have a negative impact on the local poverty; these negative potential impacts should be identified and minimized (at a national level). Cross-cutting these factors of unsustainability are the circumstances of artisanal and small-scale fishers especially in developing countries and small island developing States. The social and economic importance of these fisheries to foreign exchange earnings, food security, sustainable livelihoods, etc. make these fishers dependent upon continued access to adequate allocations of tuna resources.


1. Lack of governance

Issues and obstacles


Paths to solutions

Comments from the group


Lack of political will of contracting parties.

- Transparency of the decision-making process.
- Proactive attitude of the RFOs[7] and their members towards environmental concerns.

Decisions taken in RFOs do not follow the commitments taken in International Instruments - this is often under the influence of fishing industry lobbies.


Lack of participation and cooperation from non contracting parties, whether states or fishing entities.

4.3 1.7

- Non contracting parties to become members of RFOs.
- Use of concept of “non contracting cooperative parties” in RFOs.
- Review of allocation criteria to be consistent with UNFSA[8]
- States to ensure no share to IUU fishing vessels.
- Amend national legislation to give effect to relevant international instruments.
- Use of concept that fishing vessels of non members = IUU fishing.

While States may be reluctant to participate because of costs involved, the group felt that lack of gain in joining an organization may cause States or fishing entities not to become a member.

A number of RFOs do not provide for the participation of fishing entities.


Elimination of IUU fishing.


- Increase pressure on flag States.
- Listing, whether white or blacklisting, of fishing vessels
- Cooperation with ILO activities relating to protection of crew members.
- VMS monitoring
- Enhance cooperation between authorities responsible for vessel registration and those responsible for fisheries management.

See also measures provided for in the IPOA on IUU (Port State control; trade sanctions; etc.).


Aspirations of new members to new shares combined with reluctance of existing members to give up shares results in pressure to increase TAC.

- Distinct/separate decisions on % share allocations from decisions about overall TAC.

The problem can also increase the burden of proof for science to Demonstrate that TAC increase is not sustainable.


Participation of developing countries (coastal states, SIDS).

- Common fund to support membership of developing countries and SIDS.[9]
- Coordination mechanism among various potential members for representing interests in most cost effective way, e.g. creating sub-committee under a main body.

Reference was made to the situation in the Caribbean and the interest/wish of some States to join ICCAT.


Non-compliance with management decisions.

- Sanctions on trade in IUU of products.
- Review concepts of flag state responsibility.

See also measures provided for in the IPOA on IUU and other relevant international instruments.


Conflict over resource allocation between developed and developing nations.


- Develop objective criteria to allocate resources consistent with international fisheries law.

Coastal countries wish to have access to resources already fully exploited by DWFNs. Reflagging of IUU fleets are feared by the DWFNs.


- Provide guarantees to DWFNs[10] on beneficial ownership.


- Mechanisms/new allocation schemes to integrate concerns of developing countries.


Decision-making process leads to vague & nebulous decisions because of need to find a common denominator.

- Take decisions by voting process.
- Binding decision-making procedures with compulsory dispute settlement.

Consensus will only be reached on minimal measures, not on those dictated by sustainability considerations.


Mandates of RFOs do not address the full-range of unsustainability issues.

- Review mandate of organization.
- Audit of performance/management of RFOs.

Ecosystem, economic and social considerations.


Lack of implementation of international instruments.

- Adoption of national legislation consistent with Int. Instruments and resolutions.


Lack of support (funding) to institutions (regional and national).

- Allocation of sufficient resources to both national and international Institutions.
- Training and capacity building.
- Sharing of expertise between RBO and member States.

Tuna fishery is a rich fishery. Therefore, why not consider financial support for management purposes in the light of the share of the resource, the potential value of catch. This is recommended particularly where resources are overfished


Conflict between aims of RFOs and development agencies leading to over-investment in fishing capacity and infrastructure.


- Fisheries management objectives to take into account the issue.
- Education.
- Awareness of donor countries and funding agencies.

2. Interactions

Issues and obstacles


Paths to solutions

Comments from the group


External factors threatening sustainability of Fisheries.

- Need to manage tuna taking into consideration the external factors.
- Improved technology (e.g. to improve selectivity of fishing gear).
- Cooperation between multilateral institutions, RFO, other interested parties.

External factors: e.g. by catch fisheries turtles, birds dolphins; may also include impact of international instruments e.g. CBD, CITES.

Cooperation between CITES, RFO and FAO.


Inadequate selectivity in FAD fishery.

- RFO investigate on extent and range of interaction e.g. tagging.
- Explore effects of alternative fishing method.
- A moratorium, closed area/marine protected area.

- FAD fishery vs. longline fisheries: purse seiners catch juveniles while longliners catch adults.
- Some fisheries management measures may have impact on economic sustainability (e.g. in case of closing FAD fishery, fishers do not have any opportunity to continue fishing skipjacks).


Possible interaction between purse seine and small scale fisheries.

- RFO investigate on extent and range of interaction
- Collaboration between research/management organizations.

By-catch of juveniles, both small-scale and large-volume.
Could be best illustrated e.g. Maldives.


Conflict between industrial and small-scale/sports fisheries, including focus on industrial sector and lack of information on small-scale sector.


- Setting objectives in management plan whether at national or regional level.
- Division of resources (rights)
- Exclusion zones
- Better statistics
- Case studies on economic/social impacts

Basically a national issue - problem of ethics and different perceptions as to whether there is a need to “protect” the commercial fisheries or the recreational fisheries problem of distribution of benefits;
this would apply also to the pelagic shark fishery


Excessive catch of undersized fish.


- Improved technology to identify various species (size, type,..) e.g. electronic devices.
- Investigate on more selective fishing gears.

3. Complexity

Issues and obstacles


Paths to solutions



Stock assessment depends primarily on fishery dependent data.

- Fishery independent assessments such as tagging.

Stock assessment to take into account the stock in its full range.


Difficulty in measuring fishing power (capacity).

- Better data on technology/crew composition.
- Development of different/indirect methods (modelling).

Rapid changes in technologies (gear, satellite technology, etc.), in particular with respect to purse seiners, increasing efficiency.


Extreme fleet mobility.


- Effective coordination between relevant RFOs
- Harmonization of fisheries management measures adopted by RFOs.
- Implementation of FAO Compliance Agreement.

e.g. exchange of information on data on fishing vessels, on management measures.


Uncertainty with respect to stock units.

- Investigating stock structure and consequences of this complexity.

e.g. using tagging, genetics etc.


Uncertainties regarding the potential effects of tuna fisheries on the pelagic ecosystems and their dynamics.


- Take ecosystem relationships into account in management.
- Mandate of RFO to include possibility to deal with ecosystem related matters.


Local variability in availability of stock.


Regional cooperation and malleability of fleet.

There is not always a relationship between the overall stock/biomass situation and the local/biomass in a given area. This results in an internal variability in local catch within EEZ.

4. High demand

Issues and obstacles


Paths to solutions



Price increases because of limited resources, especially for Bigeye and Bluefin.


Ensure traceability of the products.
Apply trade restrictive measures on IUU catch.

Concerns for sashimi tunas.

5. Inappropriate incentives

Issues and obstacles


Paths to solutions



Subsidies, especially in fully exploited or overexploited fisheries.

Eliminate such subsidies.


Loan-decisions based on historical performance not future stock projections.


Better information to financial institutions.

Concerns bank loans & any other financial facility. Support to fishing vessels through support to shipyard industry occurs often.


Absence of secure rights to fish.


Establish rights & rules for allocation of quotas/rights.

6. Poverty

Issues and obstacles


Paths to solutions



Impact of by-catch landing on small scale fishing.

Take into account socio economic conditions of people, including small scale fishers.

Landing of by-catch may have positive impacts (additional food) but also negative impacts (unfair competition with local artisanal fisheries).


Impacts of needs of small scale fishers not taken into account.


Need to take into account small communities, SIDS in the allocation of resources.


Impact of by-catch landing on consumers.

Take into account socio economic conditions of people, including consumers.



Large volume demersal fisheries are generally characterised by industrialised fishing fleets targeting a relatively small number of species in a large but delimited area, for commercial marketing. Compared to other types of fisheries, infrastructure for monitoring, management, and provision of science support is likely to be better developed. However, there is still substantial diversity within this class of fisheries, and individual fisheries many not have all of these characteristics. This diversity means that neither problems nor paths to solutions would be considered to apply universally across them all.

A brief discussion of Instruments concluded the following.


Inventory of types of challenges was undertaken in a brain-storming format, as a de facto test of completeness of the framework from the Bangkok meeting. After thorough discussion it seemed that essentially every major challenge in large-volume demersal fisheries were covered in the six factors of unsustainability from Bangkok, with INAPPROPRIATE INCENTIVES and LACK OF GOOD GOVERNANCE being by far the predominant issues.

It was also noted that large-scale demersal fisheries were apparently the simplest case. Compared to the other types of fisheries, these will tend to be more profit/business oriented and strongly influenced by economic objectives to a greater extent than social and ecological ones. They tend to concentrate excess fishing capacity and are not easy to manage, but other types of fisheries were expected to have even more problems, and more difficult paths to solutions.

Major, more specific impediments to progress include the following.

A long discussion ensued about these issues, resulting in an agreement that there is a very strong three-way linkage from the problems of inappropriate incentives and lack of good governance to the absence of secure rights. Allocation of some degree of rights (without being specific about their nature at this point) very often would be a necessary step to address problems with incentives. However, that step can only be taken when one is fully aware of the governance system and the nature of the fishery and its participants. Otherwise the initial problem may be only partly solved, while new and different problems would eventually be created.

In discussing if it was possible to even know how to match the type of rights to type of governance and fisheries systems, the group considered whether this was a change from science-based management to consensus-based management. In that discussion it became clear than “consensus” can have various meaning according to circumstances or context. Even in cases when it is not difficult to get consensus (agreement of all participants) on what should be done collectively in the fishery, it can still be very difficult to get agreement at the scale of what individuals should do. To most individuals and enterprises, choices are likely to be still a business issue with short term objectives.

When time comes for internalizing management costs or sharing them, groups which may have agreed with the objective, may not agree with taking on their assigned share of the cost of achieving the objectives. Consensus then may breaks down.

This impediment to progress can also be addressed (not eliminated) through more attention to social and economic sciences, rather than more biological sciences. Without such research there will be a growing diversion between the science (biological) being done, and what is actually happening in the fishery.

Another measure that would help to match the type of rights allocated to specific fisheries and to address specific inappropriate incentives is institutionalize fora where the resource scientists have to interact with social scientists, economists, and managers, and answer their questions. This is an interactive alternative to the predominant model where the biologists simply give their assessment results and leave the discussion of what should happen in the fishery to the other relevant experts and interests. Given the heterogeneity of “stakeholders” it may be an efficient strategy to use stratified discussion - consultation approach however, to address different needs of different groups.

Even where science is responsive to economics and managers, the time lag for getting responses is often too great to meet management’s needs. The Precautionary Approach should be an asset here, but in reality it is often perceived as unjustified stalling.

There was agreement that successful large demersal fisheries require a simultaneous application of a conservation perspective and the social and economic perspective of those directly associated with the fisheries, but again there did not seem to be any universal way to combine those two perspectives. In badly depleted fisheries, the former should be made predominant (conservation objectives would dominate over all others) while the latter would gain more prominence when the stocks are sound and supporting economically viable fisheries. In particular the state’s responsibility for costs will generally be considered to be much higher while restoring a damaged stock than once it is recovered. Moreover, among demersal large-volume fisheries, the balance between sound business objectives (targeting economic efficiency) and social objectives (targeting community viability). Again, there seemed to be little opportunity for significant progress towards greater sustainability without social and economic science research to provide the information and understanding needed to blend the two perspectives.

The application of Rights was considered further, as a step very likely to be needed in most large scale demersal fisheries, in order to address the dangers of poor incentives. It was noted that there is a gap here, because none of the instruments seem to highlight that allocation of rights is very often a necessary first step in moving towards sustainability, even though many at least mention them. There was also agreement that there are many types of rights, and no universal algorithm for determining which type of rights is best for which fishery. Rather, this is to be linked to the need for more study of the fishery and fishers, rather than just the fish, in order to understand what form of rights is appropriate in any particular case.

Allocation of rights does necessarily give special privileges to some parts of society, and those receiving the benefits should contribute back to society in return for those privileges. How this is best done again can only be viewed case specifically, but if done wrong, is another case where a measure to address one problem (inappropriate incentives affecting bio-ecological and economic sustainability) results in greater social inequity - sometimes very great (affecting social sustainability). A very clear understanding of the real costs and benefits of the fisheries is needed to do the rent recovery fairly and effectively, again calling for greater economic knowledge of the fishery. Again, also, there are particular problems in the less-developed countries, where payment for access rights creates even greater potential for inequities to be present from the very onset of the rights-based system.

The other issue that was thought to be tied up with fair application of rights to address inappropriate incentives was the absence of clear management objectives for fisheries. Objectives are called for in many instruments, particularly in the Code of Conduct, but they often either have not been set, not ranked, or are so general that they allow mutually incompatible activities to be pursued. It is possible to at least begin to strengthen access rights within fisheries without clear objectives, but progress cannot go very far until objectives have been set. The objectives have to be clear enough that all sectors participating in a fishery agree that they are trying to achieve the same things, they all understand their roles and responsibilities, and things the objectives are trying to achieve are mutually compatible. The type of access rights and methods of redistribution of excess wealth from the rights can only be finalized once such objectives are available.


There was substantial discussion about the proper phrasing of a general pattern that pervaded all the examples discussed to this point. It was readily agreed that all examples where consistent with the conclusions that:

There was more diversity of viewpoints about the degree to which top-down intervention is necessary and effective. However, there were no counter-examples offered to the generalization that:

There was also wide agreement that the examples and collective experience supports the generalization that:

2.1 Highest priority: address inappropriate incentives with rights, but minimize risk of rights causing new problems

The group acknowledges that there were many types of rights to be used according to macro-economic context and other criteria, the choice being a political issue. With regard to implementing rights at this stage in overhauling fisheries to improve their sustainability, the groups did not see any cases where assigning secure rights necessarily made things worse in the bio-ecological dimension. There are known secondary problems, such as highgrading, that can occur, but these can be addressed with monitoring and responsible stewardship. In the economic dimension the effects of rights also were generally positive, but the reversibility cost of rights can be very large. Once users have rights it costs a great deal to get the rights back if priorities change. This is another case where knowing that risk will usually be present allows planned for it. There is a need to structure into user rights programs from the beginning some mechanism to extract a share of the value (economic rent) for civil society and to allow options for change or adaptation to exist in the future. A number of possibilities for extracting rent were discussed. Yet again no single approach was considered universally appropriate, with the nature of the best strategy depending both on the nature of the fishery and the nature of the social unsustainabilities that were considered to be at risk of being introduced or increased through allocation of rights. The latter consideration again highlights the need for social sciences in support of fisheries management, to understand the possible social consequences of different systems of access rights.

The group considered the question that “If access rights are so good, why access rights aren’t used more?” Among the contributing factors are the following:

The sequence of activities and linkages would then consist of the following:

Implicit in applying these steps is a need to do a lot of research on the pieces - the dynamics of people, groups, and institutions at the level of the fishery, and overall research on the organizations, the fisheries, what their values are, and what the may become over time. This may include a lot of social and ethnical research as well.

2.2 Addressing problems with less-than-good governance

The core to making “good governance” more of a reality is to ensure openness, transparency, and inclusiveness. However, to make this platitude effective requires a number of choices. How can it be ensured, for example, that the stakeholder makeup of “transparency” is actually fair and representative of all the sectors of society that should participate. No standards for what comprises “inclusive” are included in the instruments and the nature of “inclusive” almost certainly varies with cultures and is constrained by the wording of national and international instruments. Moreover, transaction costs are very high when the move towards a fully participatory decision-making is made. Many countries are simply unable to support these costs.

Despite these complexities, progress on Good Governance is usually essential, and it was argued that some institutions function so poorly that the only effective option is to abandon the entire approach and start over. Knowing the degree of institutional change that is needed will require regular auditing of the performance of the management institutions. Many countries may audit performance of their national agencies, but there are no disciplinary standards for how this should be done. There are also no designated agencies nor standards for conducting performance audits of multi-national management agencies. The Marine Stewardship Council provides this function for fisheries, and in the process evaluates some aspects of the performance of management institutions. However, their reports have no status with the agencies, only the fishery which requests (and can afford) certification review.

Some comparable mechanism for auditing the effectiveness of fisheries institutions should be established, but the means for doing so, and accommodating it within the legal and policy instruments was not discussed.


Integrated policy and planning - Its link to the larger picture is to planning for what is going to happen to the people who did not receive rights when they were allocated to address inappropriate incentives. This also becomes a link to benefit distribution. Both are part of planning ahead to minimize the new problems created with addressing the first-order problems of inappropriate incentives.

The Precautionary Approach is a very important element of management, but its role is well explained elsewhere. The reversal of burden of proof issue is particularly important in the case of developing countries, where there will be even more cases of insufficient knowledge. This is an important input into how governance is working.

Capacity building- in co-management and improved governance settings: there is a need for training of managers for new a suite of facilitation and co-ordination skills, and of community people and all other relevant players to take on management responsibility. The democratization of decision-making needs provision of more skills and more people with those skills. This is a huge deficit in essentially all areas, particularly in developing countries. Institutions will have to provide a lot of training and the institutional mechanisms to even do the training doesn’t exist in most places.

Also there is a need everywhere, but especially in the developing world, for more experts trained in analytical methods for assessing stock status, fisheries economics, and other specialities.

Market incentives - these are the types of fisheries where this tool would be most appropriate, and they play a supporting role to the measures discussed above.



The following summarizes the discussion related to coastal fisheries. Issues and obstacles related to unsustainability were listed and discussed. Working group participants deliberated on several measures to address these issues and suggested potential paths to solutions. The results of the discussion are provided in Table 1.

Participants acknowledged the complexity of coastal fisheries and stated that many of the issues discussed were specific to certain fisheries. Coastal fisheries often have actual or potential connections with coastal communities. In such cases, the fishing community has a natural, often not recognized, role in fisheries management; thus, a need for clear definition of these communities. For the following recommendations on paths to solutions, four major types of coastal fisheries were considered, i.e. subsistence, small-scale commercial, large-scale commercial and recreational. It should be noted that in some context, an activity that will solve a problem in one fishery will make a similar problem worse in another fishery (e.g. elimination of the middlemen, see table). Also, what was identified as an obstacle in some context may become an asset in another.

Lack of good governance was considered a very important factor of unsustainability in coastal fishery management. Depending on the fisheries, measures to address this issue could include establishing community-based management, encouraging participation from all stakeholders, providing adequate and appropriate access rights to legitimate fishers (where both legal and social values may influence who is considered legitimate), strengthening and coordinating various levels of organizations and institutions, and promoting education and awareness on basic fisheries management, leadership, compliance, and law enforcement. Note that many of these measures will also address issues related to inappropriate incentives discussed below.

The importance of education as a means to address problems related to good governance was highly emphasized, and considered as an effective means to promote sustainability in coastal fisheries. Education, training and awareness rising should involve all stakeholders, including policy makers and fisheries managers. The sharing and exchange of knowledge and experiences between various stakeholders, particularly with regards to traditional and local knowledge is also critical.

Also related to the lack of good governance were issues related to poorly structured post-harvest system. We identified several paths to solutions, such as supporting fishers to market their own products (to reduce the high dependency on middlemen, in cases where middlemen are considered as a negative asset), supporting planning of market structure, and strengthening local organizations through marketing and user-right systems.

To deal with inappropriate incentives, we listed determination and allocation of access rights, improvement of MCS and enforcement, empowerment of local communities, encouraging self-policing, elimination of subsidies and dealing with wasteful fishing practices through gear innovation for by-catch reduction and reduction of habitat damage, and development and application of code of ethics/conduct.

Issues related to complexity in coastal fisheries and interactions between various sectors were considered together, as they were closely related to each other. Interactions include, for example, tourism, agriculture, aquaculture, and industrial development in the coastal areas. To address these issues, integrated policy, planning and management is required. There are three aspects to this: integrating biology, social, and economic aspects in fishery management; addressing the role of fisheries relative to other economic and social opportunities; and addressing the impacts of other activities in coastal areas and watershed on the coastal ecosystems and fisheries. Successful management for coastal fisheries depends on how components of sustainability are combined and balanced. Balancing of these components depends on, among others, the level of governance, knowledge, experience, incentives, and rights. In this context, fishery management should be fine-tuned, adaptive, and iterative.

Resource vulnerability, related to bio-ecological aspects, pollution, habitat destruction and interactions with other coastal activities, was identified as another important obstacle to coastal fisheries management. It was noted that the complexity in coastal fisheries and the sequential effects of fishing and the linkages to other systems cause difficulties in management. Assessment tools applicable to coastal fisheries are not always available. There is a need for research, experimental management, and integration of sciences (natural and social) and traditional knowledge. Fishers and other users should be involved in data collection, analysis and interpretation, as well as monitoring and reporting activities. Paths to solutions also include establishment of marine protected areas, applying integrated coastal zone and watershed management and planning, and strengthening legislation dealing with land-based pollution.

Table 1. below, shows the results of the working group discussion related to obstacles, issues and potential paths to solutions related to four types of coastal fisheries, i.e. subsistence, small-scale commercial, large-scale commercial and recreational. Note that the suggested solutions are neither exhaustive nor universal; and they can be applied in many combinations, depending on the specific context.


Factors of unsustainability

Issues and obstacles

Possible paths to solution

Lack of good governance

1. Conflicts

1.1 Provide forum/mechanisms for conflict resolution

1.1 Gears, segments

1.1.1 Within fishers - provide rights/legislation/internal rules

1.2 Disruption due to outsiders' entry/new entrants

1.2.1 Provide rights/legislation

2. Lack of mechanisms for cooperation and co-ordination (institutions, user groups, scientific disciplines, organised groups)

2.1 Between fishers and management - open, transparent co-management system

2.2 Make use of local institutions (e.g. cultural institution, church, local sport club)

2.3 Need to involve social scientists

2.4 Establish committees involving all user groups

3. Level of organization

3.1 Need to strengthen local organizations (e.g. through marketing and user rights, etc.)

3.2 Increase efficiency, or provide rewards when reaching targets (e.g. increase budgets to FMO when succeed) - to support good effort for management (performance indicators)

3.1 Poorly structured post-harvest system

3.1.1 Provide incentives/reward to communities to settle internal problems

3.1.2 Support planning of market structure

3.1.3 Support fishers to market their own products

3.2 Political pressures/lobbies/political clout of recreational fishermen

3.2.1 Encourage (establish) open, transparent, accountable processes/institutions

3.3 Poor organization of fishers

3.3.1 Education and training (leadership, basic management, biology, vocational)

3.3.2 Encourage establishing of groups, cooperatives, associations, unions, fishing clubs, etc.

3.3.3 Strengthen/making use of existing organizations (can be NGOs, church, and other community organizations)

4. Difficulty in MCS & Enforcement

4.1 Post harvest control (e.g. at the landing sites or at the buyers)

Notes: Depends on a whole spectrum and dichotomy (resources are good or bad, migratory or not)

4.2 Establish community-based management (to encourage self-policing)

Notes: Local MCS can take place even with migratory fish (e.g. salmon, because community concerns with habitat). Manage from shore (from inside, managing the fishers, not the fish)

4.3 Education and awareness to encourage compliance

4.4 Use high penalty/punishment to deter violations

4.5 Educate the law enforcement and court

4.6 High probability of being caught (through increase monitoring and surveillance)

4.7 Encourage international cooperation in MCS & E (e.g. to combat illegal exportation)

4.1 Lack of resources for MCS & E

4.1.1 Provide adequate and sustained resources

5. Roles of communities in management

5.1 Lack of recognition by fisheries management agencies

5.1.1 Involve other government agencies in fisheries management (along the line of integrated management)

5.1.2 Education and awareness creation of fisheries management agencies

5.1.3 Facilitate exchange of knowledge and experiences between fisheries managers at the working level, and between managers and communities and other resource users. Share success stories and facilitate implementation of pilot community management projects.

5.2 Lack of incorporation of community knowledge to contribute to management

5.2.1 Acknowledge the importance of relevant traditional knowledge of resources, sciences and management, balancing with modern sciences and management

5.3 Inability to use the knowledge for management

5.3.1 Creating inventory of knowledge

5.3.2 Try to scale up the knowledge

5.3.3 Conduct social science research

5.3.4 Channel/communicate the knowledge to management (know your customers for better packaging)

6. Policy/regulations

6.1 Lack of clear policies for coastal fisheries management

6.1.1 Set clear, practical, achievable objectives and policies through consultation with all stakeholders

6.2 Lack of secure rights

6.2.1 Knowing all varieties of rights, and understanding attributes, and establish system of allocating rights, and obligations

6.2.2 Association between rights and specific contexts

6.2.3 Back up the rights, by law and subsidiarity (devolve and participate to the appropriate level)

6.3 Inapplicable/inadequate regulations

6.3.1 Constantly evaluating performance of fishery management and regulations

6.3.2 Create competent institutions for evaluation of management

6.3.3 Provide information on needed regulations

6.3.4 Formulation of fishery management plan

6.3.5 Need for compatibility of regulations at various levels (local community to the whole fishery)

6.3.6 Need coordination between administrations (e.g. safety at sea, conservation)

7. Unmonitored and unmanaged technology leading to unsustainability

7.1 Better monitoring of the technology, and adjustment of management according to (or to account for) the improved technology (e.g. reduce the catch, ban the gear)

Poverty and lack of alternatives

1. Lack of alternative employment

1.1 Need integrative planning for diversity of economic opportunity for the community (multi-specificity)

1.2 Need training and education of new skills

1.3 Need to involve multiple branch of government (macro level)

2. Unmanaged shifting from other activities to fishing

2.1 Allocating and managing rights (give priority to legitimate fishers)

Notes: can be good or bad depend on how we handle it. Can help restore the stock or deplete the stock.

3. Resistance to Change

3.1 Provide appropriate incentives

4. Coastal population growth/coastal migration

4.1 Need integrate planning

4.2 Education in family planning

4.3 Provide infrastructure, opportunities and alternatives inland to distribute concentration of people

4.4 Access rights to legitimate fishers

5. Lack of saving culture

5.1 Vocational training (simple book keeping and accounting)

5.2 Use simple loan and credits and saving schemes

6. High dependency on the middlemen

6.1 Create awareness to rid of bondage

6.2 Build marketing infrastructure

6.3 Establish and strengthen marketing cooperatives

6.4 Provide credit schemes

Inappropriate incentives

1. Low entry cost/open access

1.1 Access rights

1.2 Improve enforcement and MCS

1.3 Economic diversification

2. Use of illegal fishing practices

2.1 Sanction, MCS

2.2 Secure access rights

2.3 Education

2.4 Empower local communities (getting their attention to the problem)

2.5 Code of ethics/conduct

3. Too much subsidies for investment in new technology

3.1 Eliminate subsidies

4. Wasteful fishing practices

4.1 Create market

4.2 Gear innovation for reducing by-catch

4.3 Education and regulation

4.4 Find ways to use by-catch

4.5 Code of ethics/conduct

Complexity and lack of knowledge/Interactions with other sectors

1. Inappropriate application of many methodological, standard resource assessment tools to coastal fisheries

1.1 Bring in innovative research on management strategies

1.2 Use iterative process, adaptive management, and treat it as an art. Fine-tuning and dynamic process

1.3 Utilize performance indicators

1.4 Involve fishers and traditional knowledge in data collection and analysis and interpretation

1.5 Establish and improve monitoring and reporting

2. Resource vulnerability

2.1 Bio-ecological vulnerability

2.1.1 Build robustness in the management strategy, use precautionary approach

2.1.2 Establish marine protected areas

2.2 Pollution

2.2.2 Integrated coastal zone and watershed management and planning

2.2.3 Need legislation to deal with land-based pollution

2.3 Habitat destruction

2.3.1 Education

2.3.2 MCS

2.3.3 Banning

2.3.4 Integrated coastal zone and watershed management and planning

2.3.5 MPAs

2.4 Interactions with other coastal activities

2.4.1 Integrated coastal zone and watershed management and planning

2.4.2 Zoning

3. Lack of knowledge

3.1 Need biological, social, and economic inputs

[7] RFO = Regional Fisheries Organization
[8] UNFSA = 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement
[9] SIDS = Small Island State
[10] DWFN = Distant Water Fishing Nations

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