(Rome, 20–23 September 2005)
* S.M. Garcia, FAO Fisheries Department.
Experience in assessing fisheries in the framework of regional fishery organisation
Experience in assessments at national level (Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Senegal, Mexico)
From very data-poor (Morocco) to data-rich (Senegal)
From conventional data collection systems (Senegal) to use of informal knowledge (Côte d’Ivoire)
In general, concerned by the lack of information on SSFs, particularly coastal ones, on mangroves, lagoons, coral reefs, boulder reefs, etc. Difficulty of sampling systems (scattering, low resources) but facility to involve people to collaborate in science.
In general, concerned by the use of clichés (poor of the poor) and the lack of appreciation of the reality, complexity, vitality and dynamics of the sector among policy-makers. Experience in Senegal where all clichés were largely wrong.
Consciousness that, in general, by ignorance or because of overwhelming globalisation and modernisation mechanisms, SSFs are threatened. Not an exceptional fate. A lot of small-scale traditional activities are being threatened in other sectors. Making sure that the transition is needed, positive and if so, that timing and processes are acceptable. SSFs within rural development in general. SSFs role in integrated coastal areas management. Even perhaps role of SSFs in peri-urban environments. Interactions (synergies, conflicts) with agriculture and other sectors.
In general, little time and few resources available for a guiding assessment. Experience in Senegal (fish meal: few days in a crisis) or Morocco (few months to “save” the small-scale sector on octopus).
In addition, the rapid shift in emphasis of fisheries policy frameworks with the introduction of the precautionary approach, the ecosystem approach, the livelihood approach (all inter-connected) creates the need to develop the capacity to assess SSFs in relation to these frameworks and hence dealing with environmental impacts as well as human sector dynamics.
Consciousness of the fact that countries need a “dual-speed” system. One sub-system is needed to deal with medium to long-term development planning and issues (establishment of national data collection systems, historical indicators and trends, development planning, investment strategies, changes of fishing rights policies, coastal management integration, etc.). Another sub-system is needed for crisis solving, rapid assessment in preparation of investment projects, for project site selection, and for all short-term management problems.
Problem: lack of a general agreed framework and “bible” for rapid integrated (multidisciplinary) assessment of SSFs to be used as a basis for systematic capacity building. Despite availability of a large range of efforts by various academic and development agencies. Serious gap in resources assessment: need to “invent” or revive methodologies used in inland fisheries to observe the ecosystem and resources? Develop new methods using social sciences toolboxes to collect information and status and dynamics in people’s minds.
Conclusion : need for a specific framework, developed in collaboration, identifying and filling gaps, starting from the general paradigm on SSFs issues and that of fisheries policy and management identifying specificities of SSFs within it, developing (compiling?) information available on approaches to SSFs assessment, identifying (developing consensus on methods), collecting information on their use and performance in various contexts, identifying tools (computer programmes, databases, information systems) potentially usable; check if methodology and use is well described, if the method has been tested. Compile or develop manual (integrating terminology and symbology). Select a set of approaches and methods. Test them. Distribute the package. Train people in its use. Promote its further testing.
Process: Agreement in principle between WorldFish Center and FAO about the issue and the need to work on it, possibly jointly. Agreement with the ISF. First ad hoc worshop/brainstorming in Penang (2003?) with participation of Ana Parma. Confirmation of the need and relevance of the project. Elaboration of a draft project proposal. Implementation starting with an inception workshop (this workshop) to expose the ideas, identify key directions and players and potential project stakeholders and collaborators.
Perspective and needs: a multi-year project (you will help deciding how long it could take) with FAO and WFC core activities undertaken in collaboration with centres of excellence in SSFs willing to join the effort and with the ISF. Initial support from the FAO Status and Trends strategy and from WFC (for this workshop). Need for extra-budgetary funding to support the effort. Need for in-kind support from collaborating institutions (expert time, available methodologies, assistance in testing, etc.).
Output: a complete package of integrated (multi-dimensional) methodologies imbedded in a specific paradigm, connected but distinct from the evolving general fisheries assessment and management paradigm. The package should be particularly useful for assessing poverty, food security and vulnerability. A number of case studies developed jointly by the partners. A number of developing countries scientists trained with the aim to improve national capacity to plan, manage and monitor SSFs.
A side comment: we believe that the problems we intend to tackle are not exclusive to SSFs and that many of the problems relate as well to most coastal fisheries which: (i) interact with SSFs and (ii) do not have yet a paradigm for integrated rapid appraisal.
This workshop is a starting point, jointly planned and implemented by WFC and FAO. More will be said later by Gertjan regarding the objectives of the workshop itself. On the last day of your meeting, more will be said about the project strategy itself and we look forward to your comments and suggestions. My very deep hope is that many of you, and your institutions will find it worthwhile to join this effort and develop means of assessing SSFs which today are not available despite high demand.
I do not know what the outcome will be but I am confident that we are all fighting a good cause and I wish to thank you all very sincerely for your participation.