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The International Workshop on the Implementation of International Fisheries Instruments and Factors of Unsustainability and Overexploitation in Fisheries was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia 13–16 September 2004. The workshop was organized in the context of an FAO trust fund project (Project GCP/INT/788/JPN: Factors of Overexploitation and Unsustainability in Fisheries). It was hosted by the Royal Government of Cambodia.

The workshop was attended by 25 experts, in their personal capacity, representing a wide range of disciplines and experience. A list of participants appears in Annex 1.

The Technical Secretary of the workshop, Mr. Dominique Gréboval, welcomed participants in the name of the Assistant Director General of FAO for fisheries, Mr. Ichiro Nomura, and thanked the Royal Government of Cambodia for hosting the workshop. He recalled the aims and outcomes of the two previous workshops, and noted that the present workshop was organized in a different manner. Based on previous findings, it aimed at addressing management challenges through the presentation and discussion of a range of papers. These papers related to four main themes: Governance; Access and fishing rights; some dimensions of sustainability; Small-scale fisheries and the perspective of developing countries. He stated that discussion of the papers would be expected to provide some guidance addressing responsible fisheries management.

The workshop was opened by H.E. Por Try, Secretary of States of the Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia. He recalled the importance of fisheries to the economy of Cambodia and the very special significance of the Great Lake of Tonle Sap and its fisheries to the history and life of all Cambodian people. He also stressed that the issues to be debated by the workshop were of relevance to Cambodia as well as to most developing countries struggling to ensure the sustainable development of their fisheries sector.

The agenda adopted by the workshop appears in Annex 2. For each session (main theme) participants who had prepared discussion papers presented them to plenary. Brief discussions followed each presentation. A fuller discussion of the issues raised in the papers took place at the end of each session.

A summary of each discussion paper follows below in section 2. A synthesis of views expressed during discussions is presented in section 3, and conclusions in section 4. Recommendations appear in section 5.


Following is a summary of each discussion paper presented in plenary. The full papers appear in Part II of this report.

2.1 Governance and Fisheries Management: Causes or Solutions for Unsustainability

2.1.1 Allocation and conservation of ocean fishery resources: connecting rights and responsibilities

Serge Garcia and Jean Boncœur emphasized that allocation of rights is a first necessary step towards conservation, but it is not a sufficient one. The performance of allocation in terms of conservation depends on: the control variable (allocated factor); the rights attributes; the selection of private versus communal property; the initial allocation; the effectiveness of the rights' administration; the value of the fishing privilege and the destination of the rent. The performance of fisheries in terms of conservation appears to be dependent on the solution of a number of allocation dilemmas between: (i) consumptive and non-consumptive use; (ii) fishers and other sectors including conservation; (iii) sub-sectors of fisheries; (iv) national and foreign fishers; and (v) present and future generations. The issues become even more complicated in an ecosystem perspective with issues related to: (i) allocation between fishers (and human consumers) and other marine top predators; (ii) allocation in Marine Protected Areas; (iii) the interplay between conservation and social reproduction; (iv) contrasting evolution of the spatial units selected respectively for ecosystem management and fisheries resources allocation.

2.1.2 Is the failure of conventional fisheries management making the conservationist approach more appealing, offering a way out of making tough decisions?

Jake Rice systematically compared the conventional and ecosystem (or conservationist's) approaches. While an ecosystem approach is enjoying increasing popularity, it will not make tough conservation decisions easier. The paper stressed the importance of applying the precautionary approach in the face of more acknowledged (not actually increasing it) uncertainty with an ecosystem approach. Interestingly, the elements of the conventional approach (as currently espoused by fishery managers and policy makers) and the ecosystem approach as advocated by conservationist are consistent, although their emphases are different (e.g., the former uses area management as one of many tools, whereas the later essentially makes Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) a requirement). Both approaches stress the importance of inclusive governance, although the conservationist approach actually gives more importance to top-down control of fishing to comply with goals set by broader society whereas conventional fisheries management gives weight to building a sense of stewardship in the industry itself.

2.1.3 Slow fish: creating new metaphors for sustainability

Ratana Chuenpagdee and Daniel Pauly used an analogy to the “slow food” movement as an approach to sustainability. The approach argues for small-scale, traditional methods, and consumer preference, to reduce or constrain fishing mortality.

2.1.4 Is fishery science helping to achieve sustainability in the North Atlantic?

Jean-Jacques Maguire concluded that the failure to take a balanced approach to the four components of sustainability (bio-ecological, social, economic, and institutional) has contributed to the unsustainable state of several important fisheries in a region that should benefit from advanced science and governance. In particular, the paper highlighted problems resulting from a “quasi exclusive” focus on the bio-ecological component.

2.1.5 Recent developments in international fisheries instruments and trends toward sustainability

Michael Lodge highlighted progress in implementing the 1995 United Nations Fish Stock Agreement. While progress has been made, such as adoption of an International Plan of Action on Illegal, Unregulated and Under-reporting and the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, there remain important gaps, such as minimal management of high seas deepwater fisheries. Many of the problems currently facing high seas fisheries are general enough to suggest some sort of global framework management system.

The papers of the session examined how governance interacts with sustainability. The critical elements, such as allocation, lower fishing mortality, the precautionary approach, integration and balance, looking beyond the fisheries sector, participatory and transparent decision making, are well known. So, why do shortcomings in governance still contribute to unsustainability? Stated another way, we know what needs to be done, and we've known for some time, so why haven't we done it? Of course the answer is that it is not easy, and it relates to the “how” rather than the “what”.

2.2 Access and Fishing rights

2.2.1 Establishing Access Regulation and Rights

Ndiaga Guèye presented this paper by J. Catanzano, which provided a detailed road map to the introduction of access regulation and rights, using West Africa as an example.

2.2.2 Capacity Management and Sustainable Fisheries International Experience

Sean Pascoe and Dominique Gréboval concluded that significant progress has been achieved in bringing world wide fishing capacity under control. Overall, the growth of fishing capacity appears to have slowed, and decreases are observed in some areas. Capacity issues are usually addressed as part of fisheries management at large rather than as separate programmes. While quite relevant, this makes it more difficult to monitor and assess progress made towards the implementation of the International Plan for the Management of Fishing Capacity.

2.2.3 Do secure access rights and co-management guarantee sustainability?

Trysh Stone showed that advanced systems of access rights and co-management can still result in overfishing. Such systems can provide an opportunity for stakeholders to use the consultation process to delay decisions. To be successful, co-management bodies must be given clear objectives, boundaries and timelines to operate in. They must also understand that decisions will be made even in the absence of their reaching an agreement.

2.2.4 Sustainable Utilisation Of Fish Stocks-Is This Achievable? A Case Study from Namibia,

David Boyer and Helen Boyer noted that Namibia has developed a fisheries management system that includes many of the recognised “good practices” that should contribute to a sustainable fishery. Despite this, Namibia's success has been patchy at best. Some stocks have recovered, while others have not, notably sardine and orange roughy. Of the main factors that resulted in unsustainable fishing of these stocks, uncertainties concerning the state and productivity of each stock resulted in management decisions which were insufficiently cautious to address the decline in the stocks. These declines could have been minimised if the precautionary approach had been applied. The overall conclusion of this case study has to question the applicability of conventional management systems, as used in Namibia and elsewhere.

2.3 Fishery management and sustainability dimensions

2.3.1 Will An Ecosystem Approach Mitigate The Factors Of Unsustainability?

Jake Rice observed that the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) directs fishery management to consider the effects of environmental forcing on exploited stocks, the effects of fishing on the ecosystem, and to work within a framework of integrated management and inclusive decision making. These four components interact with all the factors of unsustainability and all the dimensions, and they have effects on both short and long time scales. The greatest potential contributions of the EAF to mitigating the factors of unsustainability are for the first two components to address biological unsustainability due to complexity and lack of knowledge and externalities, and the latter two components to mitigate unsustainability on social and economic dimensions due to lack of effective governance, poverty and lack of alternatives, and possibly inappropriate incentives. For these potential benefits to be realised, however, three pre-conditions must be met: there must be scope to reduce harvesting in the short term, there must be scope to bear transition costs, and there must be scope to pay increased transaction costs.

2.3.2 The Need for a “Bigger Picture” and a Fishery-System Approach

Tony Charles argued for taking a broad ‘big picture’of the fishery system, to address three of the six Factors of Unsustainability that go beyond the fishery per se, i.e. poverty and lack of alternatives, high demand for limited resources, and interactions of the fishery sector with other sectors. He suggested that “we will never see fishery sustainability if we restrict attention solely to what goes on within the fishery”and that if a condensed set of Factors of Unsustainability is used, an additional one should be “An overly narrow approach to fishery problems”. Charles recommended meeting the challenge by adopting a Fishery-System Approach that broadens from the Ecosystem Approach. He sought to motivate the need for these perspectives through discussion of resilience, livelihoods, community-based management, rights and over-capacity.

2.3.3 A simple framework for proactive management to mitigate unsustainability in fisheries: Estimating risks of exceeding limit reference points (LRPs) of bio-ecologic, economic and social indicators

Juan Carlos Seijo described a number of challenges in fisheries, such as lack of governance, high exclusion costs, high enforcement and information costs, externalities among fishers, ‘free rider’ behaviour and the ‘social trap'that leads fishers to act counter to what they know are their long term interests. Table 1 in his paper outlined some strategies to mitigate the high costs. He noted that subsidies - whether to develop the fishery or to alleviate crises - reflect a Factor of Unsustainability, but can also foster sustainability (e.g., by supporting more selective gear, or recruitment enhancing technology). Mr Seijo described work to develop a multidisciplinary set of indicators and reference points, involving a series of steps from the choice of indicators through a risk analysis and other steps.

2.3.4 Three Issues of Sustainability in Fisheries

Alain Bonzon presented this paper by Rögnvaldur Hannesson which observed, based on the history of the Norwegian fisheries over the last half century that: (1) in growing economies, it is seldom possible to maintain incomes of fishermen compared to other groups unless the number of fishermen decreases; (2) environmental variation make it difficult to sustain catches from specific stocks over long periods, although it might be possible to sustain global incomes and value-added through shifting fishing pressure from stocks to stocks; (3) temporary subsidies, particularly for decommissioning vessels, may promote sustainability of income and reduce fishing pressure, if this occurs within a well controlled management regime.

2.4 Small-scale issues and developing country perspective

2.4.1 The Unsustainable Exploitation of Inland Fisheries Resources in Cambodia

Srun Lim Song, Lieng Sopha, Ing Try and Heng Sotharith described the inland fisheries of Cambodia which produces 300 000 –450 000 tonnes per year with an estimated price at landing sites of US$ 150 225 million. It ranks fourth among the World's top in terms of total inland fish production, but it ranks first among the world's top in terms of fish consumption per capita. A household survey carried out in 1995–96 suggests that the average fish consumption rate of 4.2 million people in central Cambodia is 67 kg/capita/year. Small-scale fisheries (family and rice field fisheries) production contributes more than 55 percent of total catch. It is highly significant for food security in the country, especially for the rural poor. The marine catch contributes only about 12–15 percent of the total fish production annually, due to Cambodia's short coastline of only about 435 km.

The recent increase in fishing effort of the middle scale and family scale fisheries has led to increased fishing pressure on wild fish stock and increased the practice of illegal fishing methods, particularly electro-fishing and small-mesh size net (mosquito net), which lead to serious decline of fisheries resources. The decrease in number of spawning fish has resulted in the decline in fish productivity. The changes of flow regime in the Mekong River floodplains may change the physical, chemical and ecological quality of river from upstream to down stream. The form and function of the rivers have changed as a result of dam construction and canalization of the river or tributary. The human settlement has also caused changes in land use. This has disrupted the seasonal pattern of fish migration for feeding and reproduction.

2.4.2 Kerala's Marine Fishery: Evolving Towards Unsustainability: a personal statement spanning three decades

John Kurien offered a personal statement sketching his involvement in the fisheries sector of Kerala State, India over a span of three decades. Initially this involvement was as professional helping small-scale fishers to organize village marketing cooperatives. Later the involvement changed to one of a researcher and policy adviser dealing contemporaneously at the local, national and the international realms. By adopting a schematized diachronic narrative,1 an attempt is made to provide a glimpse into the manner in which the fishery became unsustainable. It also tried to sketch the inter-related hurdles which come in the way of moving (back/forward) to sustainability.

2.4.3 Size matters: scaling management and capacity to achieve sustainability in SIDS [Small Islands Developing States]

Patrick McConney and Robin Mahon focused on issues affecting the management of fisheries when fisheries authorities are small, as is typical in most Small Island Developing States, but also the case in many developing countries regardless of their size. SIDS are often stewards of large ocean spaces relative to land area, population and size of economy. Consequently, even if proportional in size to their populations, fisheries departments of SIDS are small relative to the ocean space they must manage and to the importance of fisheries in the society and economy. This is especially so in the contexts of food security, social structure, culture and environment. Much of the problem in the structure of small fisheries authorities is that they are modelled on large fisheries management agencies in large and/or developed countries, often with large commercial fisheries. Sustainable fisheries will be difficult to achieve unless there is a better fit between the scales of management and management capacities in SIDS. There is a need to research appropriate structures and functions for small fisheries authorities. Ideas are shared on some of the issues and possible answers that will require further dialogue and development at sub-regional, regional and international levels to ensure that real progress is made.

2.4.4 Poverty alleviation, sustainable livelihoods and management in fisheries

Edward Allison and Benoit Horemans sought to reconcile the apparently contradictory agendas of pro-poor fisheries development and the imperative to manage fisheries by limiting access. They first examine the role fisheries are thought to play in poverty alleviation efforts. They distinguish: (i) policy visions that portray fisheries as an ‘engine of economic growth’ (ii) as a means of providing better incomes or reduced vulnerability for ‘traditional fishers'; (iii) as a means to supply consumers, particularly poor consumers with elements of a high-quality diet, and; (iv) as a means to reduce the vulnerability of the poorest in rural society, including ‘non-traditional'fishers (a broad safety net function). They argue that the compatibility of fishery management and poverty alleviation can be reconciled with each of these visions, but that such reconciliation requires greater compromise in some cases than others. Examples of fisheries that are managed under these four different visions are given. The conclusion is that, providing one understands and can define the main role for fisheries in the economy, one can begin to make policy that recognises the trade-offs between increasing contribution to poverty alleviation and the need to conserve the resource. One reason why fisheries do not get managed sustainably is that society expects them to deliver on too many incompatible functions.

2.4.5 Decentralization, Governance and Poverty: Determinants of Unsustainability. Lessons learned from the Visayan Sea, Philippines, and the Tonle Sap Great Lake, Cambodia

Uli Schmidtemphasizedthat under conditions of imperfect governance and poverty, which makes top-down approaches to fisheries management vulnerable to elite capture and patronages, bottom-up approaches may be an avenue to explore regarding the potential for compliance and socially acceptable exclusion. Exploration needs to take the historical dimension of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) into account and consider the larger social, political and ecological system within which NRM as its major determinant.


3.1 Governance and fisheries management: causes or solutions for unsustainability

Fisheries are in a poor state under the four components of sustainability (bio-ecological, economic, social and institutional) even where fishery management has been implemented for decades. In particular, the extension of jurisdiction over fisheries has not lead to the expected improvement in fishery management within EEZs. This may be due, in part, to the imbalance given to the four components of sustainability: the bio-ecological component was overtly identified as being of primary importance, but in reality, social and economic considerations may have covertly taken precedence. Whatever the reason, it is clear that institutions have not proven effective at achieving sustainability under any of the four components of sustainability. The Conservationist approach implies a top-down approach to fishery management that has been shown to have little chances of success.

To be effective, fishery management should be explicitly integrated in a wider political framework with the aim of maintaining communities rather than saving fisheries jobs. Maintaining communities is important because reverting social systems to some previous state may be as or more difficult than reverting ecological ones. In order for fishery management to be effective, transition costs have to be explicitly identified and provided for.

Fishery management should be highly case specific. There are no universal solutions to 1) how and to whom allocate rights to fishery resources (or rights to participate in the fishery management process), 2) what the best gear and boat sizes are, 3) how to protect the resource, 4) what the objectives of fishery management should be and what decision making process are best, 5) the best pathway to achieve sustainability.

3.2 Access and fishing rights

As indicated above, fisheries problems should not be viewed in isolation but they should rather be considered part of the larger issue of planning the national economies. This could make it possible to find solutions to the unsustainability of fisheries not just in the fisheries sector, but also in other economic sectors. Particular care should be given to the fact that major institutions and donors as well as some national governments are still aiming at developing fisheries while local authorities do realise that sustainability may require exclusion of some participants. In this context, the development of fishery management plans for developing states should be concerned with finding the best way to contribute to the country's well-being and economic development, not who is catching the fish-in some cases, perhaps in the short term, it could be more beneficial to have non-nationals catch the fish if they are willing to make a more sizable contribution to the economy of the country.

To be effective, fishery management in general but more particularly so under an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management, needs to be able to make decision and implement them swiftly to deal with emerging threats such as a change in ecological regime. The need for swift action in the face of uncertain information and threats can be incompatible with the move to more consultative, co-management approaches. Co-management systems should therefore emphasise pre-agreed management actions, to allow for swift decision making and implementation when it is necessary. In the real world however, there are few incentives to make swift decisions, and decisions are often delayed in the hope that the problem will disappear. This is rarely the case and there is a greater probability that in fact the problems of unsustainability will become worse rather than disappear.

Although the solutions to fisheries management problems may be case-specific, the process to take all the relevant parties to the solution may have some general properties and identifying the properties of such a general process would be of great value. The first step to solving fishery management problems generally involves the allocation of rights. There are two related parts to the problem of allocating rights; regulating access on one side, and dealing with those who are displaced on the other. Confusing the two issues causes problems, but so does dealing with only the first of them in isolation. In some cultures/governance systems, exclusion is either unacceptable or not possible to implement. Perhaps systems of exclusion that are not permanent (e.g. Namibia) could be an option in such places. It should be noted that the social position of fishermen in communities/cultures may affect how alternative approaches work, and needs to be considered in the development of specific management measures. In this context, when groups which can affect success of fisheries management, or participate in its development, are very heterogeneous, it may only be possible to gain consensus on very abstract objectives at first, and it may require a very long time to progress to operational components of management implementation.

“Participatory” processes for developing management plans are not all the same; their dynamics can vary greatly depending on how power is distributed and the personalities and background of individuals involved. When moving to participatory governance, it is important to ensure that the objectives of those participating in management align with the objectives of society in general (“the fox guarding the henhouse”), while ensuring that decision-making is sufficiently efficient to provide responses to challenges early enough to be effective.

It is generally recognised that the allocation of rights and the resolution of disputes is a pre-condition to successful fishery management. However, “rights” are of many types and different challenges and considerations apply to allocating access rights versus allocating rights to be involved in management. In Australia, when rights were allocated in some fisheries, the “race for fish” was replaced by a “race for rights”, which brought its own problems.

Fishery management is currently perceived as having a poor track record. However, the standards for what is “successful management” need to be considered further. Is management a success as long as stock collapses or major social unrests are avoided or is it necessary that stocks be optimally rebuilt and that optimal economic and/or social benefits be produced? As an example, Namibia implemented nearly textbook “conventional fisheries management”, but the results have not met expectations in some cases (hake), and have largely failed in some others because of strong environmental forcing of stock dynamics (sardine) or biological uncertainties were larger than planned for (orange roughy). This suggests that it could be helpful to consider the “inherent manageability of a stock or group of species” (sensu Bakun) as a part of the sustainability challenge? Similarly, where capacity (at least fleet size) has levelled off, it would be important to determine if the cause is success of plans to allocate access or just the economics of the fishery?

There is pressure in an increasing number of countries to move fisheries management from Fisheries Ministries to Environment Ministries. This could be expected to necessarily imply pre-eminence be given to the bio-ecological dimension of sustainability, one of the possible reasons for unsustainability. If fishery management were moved to Environment Ministries, it could imply that large-scale commercial fisheries would de facto be perceived as not viable with possible large consequences in terms of food supply.

3.3 Fishery management and sustainability dimensions

The Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries is a relatively new concept that is understood to mean different things to different people. Some consider that fishery management has always implemented an ecosystem approach, but a majority believe that the EAF means that extent process would need to be changed. But not everyone agree on what changes mean. Does it imply extending to all species the type of monitoring that is done for commercially harvested species? In this context, a good indicator of ecosystem state is not necessarily a combination of species specific indicators. What is needed is an aggregated indicator that would perform a role similar to that of body temperature in warm blooded animals, i.e. below a threshold the ecosystem would be considered in good health, but above the threshold, it would be considered in need of remedial action. Will the EAF result in decisions that are more conservationists, or will a better understanding of the ecosystem make it possible to tolerate greater ecosystem modifications than would have otherwise been the case under less knowledge. There was a consensus in the workshop that humans should be explicitly included in the EAF, but such a consensus does not exist outside the workshop. If the human dimension were excluded from the EAF, the economic, social and institutional components of sustainability would not be explicitly addressed and the EAF could imply “fancier” biological research rather than the multidisciplinary research that this, and the two previous workshops, have considered to be necessary. Although the knowledge on fish stocks is far from perfect, it is an order of magnitude larger than the existing knowledge about the fishers, the fishing communities, and the fishing fleets. There is general agreement that implementing an EAF will cost more than current initiatives do. Considering that the EAF broadens the scope of factors to be considered in fishery management, it would be normal to expect to broaden the number of sources of revenues to pay for an EAF. In this context, if small-scale fishers hold much local ecological knowledge, allocating communal rights so these fishers can manage the fishery could be an innovative way of implementing an EAF.

Although it is fully recognised that achieving sustainability requires making changes to the status quo that will involve compromises under the four components of sustainability, there is an expectation that the solutions will generally be “win-win”. This implies that the current situations are not “Pareto –optimal”, that is it is possible to improve the situation of several players without making anyone else worse off. Perhaps one way of achieving this is by implementing governance systems that go beyond the fisheries system, as suggested above. Particular attention needs to be paid to implementation challenges considering that fishers are often resisting the idea of involving non –fishers in fishery management processes. In this context, there is substantial room to improve the tools used to support operational decision making. A framework of reference points does exist for the bio –ecological component of sustainability for commercial species, but much remains to be done to explicitly and quantitatively take into account the social and economic components in an ecosystem approach. Obviously, the ecosystem approach also implies that the governance system goes beyond the fisheries context.

Improvements in fisheries technology combined with the desirability to maintain fishing mortality relatively constant and within safe biological limits, imply that the number of fishermen will decrease over time if they are to work full-time. This also argues for governance systems that go beyond the fisheries sector. Given that fishery management is about managing the activities of humans, not those of the fish and that ecosystems do not always respond to management actions in the anticipated way, there is in fact little scope for intervention on the ecosystems themselves. This suggests that aiming for soft bio-ecological sustainability may have a higher probability of achieving overall sustainability than aiming for hard bio-ecological sustainability would.

3.4 Small-scale issues and developing country perspective

Small-scale fishers should not be blamed for all over-exploitation problems. Often, large scale illegal fishing takes place with the tacit or active collusion of government officials whose salaries are inadequate forcing them to earn income using the means at their disposal. In addition, government departments may lack adequate budgets for enforcement. Dealing with this problem requires a dual approach: civil service reform (cut jobs, increase salaries) and community-empowerment through organisation, capacity building. However, entitling communities to fishing rights is not sufficient if they do not have the means, including government support, to deal with illegal large-scale fishers and outsiders. It would be important to reconcile the conservation and livelihood approaches. Considering that even small-scale fisheries may cover large geographical areas and be transboundary (e.g. Mekong system) multiple scales of governance are necessary and these may require considerable organisational capacity.

The Kerala model for development anticipated one of the central tenets of the livelihoods approach-building on strengths. The project was guided by the philosophy that you start with what you have and build on it. It pioneered community-based development approach in the 1950s. As in several other parts of the world, Kerala's community development was undermined or reversed by the 1960's modernisation agenda, but it did get back on track in the 1970s and 1980s. As indicated above, attempts to organise at community level need connecting to higher scales of governance. Historical, political-economy perspectives are important analytical tools that are not sufficiently used. As discussed in previous sessions, economic development of the area or of the country can make a substantial contribution to sustainability of the fishery sector by absorbing labour. In addition, increased demand from urbanising middle-classes can result in increased domestic prices for fish, so that the remaining fishers may be able to benefit from this economic growth and self-regulate through community organisations. However, it is important to take into account the particular context, i.e. know where you are starting from on the social, economic and political dynamics of fishing communities

Although it is accepted that the ‘solution space’ within which poverty alleviation (livelihoods approach ) and resource sustainability can be addressed simultaneously may be restricted, for some fisheries at least, there is some room for manoeuvre in setting harvest rates higher, perhaps temporarily, than would be biologically optimal in order to meet poverty alleviation objectives. In implementing community-based management it should be recognised that not all communities operate as harmonious entities and there are examples of apparently archetypal ‘traditional'communities in Indonesia that in fact operate as clusters of highly competitive market enterprises (but who nevertheless established rules of cooperation).


4.1 Transition and reversibility

Overcoming the transition costs to improve governance is a key barrier to sustainability. The costs are monetary, social, and political. There are always costs, but they may not be known, minimized, or equitably distributed. Thus, it is not enough to espouse a vision; it is necessary to plan and manage the transition. There are many ways to get from the current situation to a governance situation deemed better for sustainability. Although the desired transition path will, to some degree, be dictated by the current situation, the choices that will be made will influence the amount, type (monetary, social or political) and distribution of costs. Exclusion costs, associated with the assignment of access rights, can be particularly problematic. In some communities, fishermen prefer to remain collectively poor together rather than excluding some in order to better protect the resource and / or to allow improving the economic situation of small number of them. In such cases, it is important that any pathway to increased sustainability explicitly incorporate an equitable solution for those that may be left out of the fishery. It is therefore not enough merely to adopt a rights-based management system; plans must be made to take care of those excluded from participation when the rights are allocated.

Win-win management options to improve sustainability remain elusive. It still appears to be the case that pathways which offer potential for major reductions in the effects of a dominant factor of unsustainability on a particular dimension of sustainability usually seem to increase the risk that other factors will be expressed more strongly on other dimensions. For example, reducing participation in a fishery by allocating rights, should improve on the economic and on the bio-ecological components of sustainability, but, if done without an equitable plan to compensate those left out, would cause a deterioration under the social (and possibly institutional) component of sustainability.

Sustainability does not mean constancy or stability: fish stocks, ecosystems and societies are inherently dynamic and in sustainable systems, stocks and ecosystems will continue to vary. The challenge is that human actions do not cause the stocks and the ecosystem to fluctuate outside natural ranges. Sustainability requires that perturbations to fishery ecosystems (including the human dimensions of the ecosystems) be reversible. Reversibility of a system is linked to its resilience-the ability of a system to absorb and ‘bounce back’ from shocks, whether internal or external. Evaluating resilience is important in fisheries because (a) it requires a system's approach, i.e. to look at all the components of the fishery system, and (b) it focuses on responding to uncertainty and perturbation, two features that dominate in fisheries.

Resilience and reversibility have different implications for natural and human components of ecosystems. Individual fish stocks may show large natural fluctuations, which may be cyclical or not, due to human intervention or not, without altering the integrity of the ecosystem. Resilient systems will be able to withstand large natural and human interventions and still be able to revert to a previously observed “natural” state. Less resilient system may be able to withstand minimal natural and or human intervention. The human components of ecosystem may be less reversible than the natural components: once a fishing community has lost its fishing people and the knowledge of how to fish it may never be able to regain it. Another fishing community of a different nature may emerge somewhere, but the human component of the ecosystem where the lost community used to belong, has been irreversibly changed. It should be recognised, however, that social changes does occur, unrelated to fishery governance.

Flexible and responsive systems that can absorb fishery resource fluctuations and other shocks and uncertainties are likely to be more robust than fixed systems (e.g. filters rather than barriers to entry; resource tracking rather than fixed carrying capacity; facilitation of exit strategies/diversification)-but it is important that any responsive system should minimise time-lag. Any tracking or flexible system that

fails to respond sufficiently rapidly to resource depletion could compromise sustainability-for some systems, this could comprise a high-risk management strategy; ‘systems that delay responses risk collapse’.

4.2 Governance, access rights and trade-offs

The previous two workshops on Factors of Unsustainability recognised that the allocation of rights is necessary in order to address factors of unsustainability. The conclusion that some form of rights allocation is essential for sustainable fisheries management continues to hold. Before rights can be allocated, however, outstanding conflicts must be resolved. In addition to rights to participate in the fishery, good governance could also assign rights to participate in the fishery management process.

The allocation of rights to participate in the fishery need not be allocated to individuals: depending on the specifics of each case, the allocation could be to many society sectors, including communities, individuals, and corporate or social groupings. It is considered essential that the most appropriate form of rights (to fish or to participate in the fishery management process) be given to the most appropriate entity on a case by case basis. The scale of rights would be expected to differ for different types of activities: for example, any member of society could be given the right to participate in the strategic planning of the fishery, while participating in the operational management of the fishery (opening and closure dates, etc.) during the season would be expected to be restricted to those having a direct interest in the fishery. It is therefore necessary to identify the appropriate time scales, processes and responsibilities of the various interested parties for: policy (long term, large scale), development planning (medium-term, national/local scale) and management (short-term, local scale).

The best scales for managing human actions and the scales relevant for the bio-ecological component of sustainability are often different. For management to be successful the multi-scale governance must be integrated effectively, so the nesting of decisions must be streamlined and complementary, so the various scales work together towards a common goal and governance is expressed at the appropriate scale for each factor.

Failing to resolve conflicts before allocating rights or to match the type of rights and mode of implementation to the specific conditions of a fishery can create additional problems without mitigating any existing ones. Even when appropriate forms of rights are implemented in a fishery or a community, successful fisheries management is not guaranteed. Fishery management is an on-going process that requires continuous attention and adjustments. Things can go wrong with how the rights are exercised, or how decisions are reached within the rights-based management systems.

The specificities of fishery management are often considered to involve the area, species, gear types, and cultural characteristics of the people involved. It is also important to take account of the individual personalities, their histories, their power and their power relationships. They may well determine what can be realistically achieved in terms of redistributing rights of access, use and management.

It is important to recognise that good governance systems comprises several interacting and overlapping layers of management at local (micro), national / regional (meso) and global (macro) scales. Fishery management is affected by global processes such as ‘good governance’agendas, market liberalisation and globalisation. As globalisation continues and affects fishery sustainability positively (Marine Stewardship Council) or negatively (increased demand), fishery manager as well as fishermen should evaluate the possible effects of globalisation on short term, medium term, and long term policies. Global issues, although they may involve all layers of management, would be expected to be the main responsibility, at least for co-ordination purposes, of the central fishery management agency while the daily operational management of the fishery would be expected to be the responsibility of local authorities. It is important that the roles and responsibilities of each party involved in fishery management be clearly identified and unambiguous.

Although the detailed characteristics of governance systems and rights allocation are believed to be highly case-specific, it is expected that the processes followed in identifying and implementing the appropriate governance systems and form of rights for a particular fishery may have broader and more general application. It would therefore be important to document both successful and unsuccessful examples.

There are few areas where all interested parties have the capacity to participate meaningfully in all aspects of fishery management. In addition, the theory and implementation of “best practices” continue to evolve. There is therefore a need for capacity building and continuous education for co-management and other forms of participatory management; to develop decision-making, facilitating and modelling tools in order to design and implement decision-making processes that are legitimate, transparent and representative.

Although rights may have been allocated to many society sectors, including communities, individuals, and corporate or social groupings, the ultimate responsibility to achieve sustainability under its four components rests with the State. It is important that parties involved in fishery management are aware that if they fail to meet the requirements of their duties, someone else will make decisions in their stead.

4.3 Trade-offs

There are many reasons to broaden participation in governance of fisheries, e.g. the objectives of fishery management can be expected to better reflect societal views, the knowledge bases for decision-making would be expected to be greater, and the governance system would be expected to be improved, leading to easier implementation of the fishery management measures. However, experience shows that participatory decision-making is costly, time consuming, and changes tend to be made incrementally. There are also examples of fishery management failures that could have been prevented by more decisiveness (i.e., for large and rapid changes). This raises the possibility that although benefits are expected from increased participation in most situations, there are instances where the benefits might be offset by the inability to act decisively in the face of a crisis. This argues for well-specified control rules or contingency plans that accelerate decisions when needed.

Changes to fisheries governance systems towards more inclusiveness and decentralisation may be less prone to the inability to act decisively in the face of a crisis. However it is unclear whether this is a consequence of genuinely greater potential for governance changes to improve sustainability or because thorough social science studies are lacking, so the limitations and risks of governance changes are not well documented at present.

In general, it is expected that the implementation of a true ecosystem approach, including the human dimension, will result in improvements under the four components of sustainability. A narrow implementation of an ecosystem approach, however, not taking into account the human dimension, may result in an imbalance in the attention given to the four components of sustainability, with a bias favouring the bio-ecological component. Whether the implantation is broad or narrow, an ecosystem approach will necessarily require trade-offs to be made.

4.4 Ecosystem and livelihood approaches

The Ecosystem Approach (EA) is widely promoted as an avenue to improving fishery sustainability. The analysis presented in the Workshop suggests that, like so many aspects, the potential of the EA is context-sensitive: depending on the fishery, it may improve some components of sustainability, but it may make it more difficult to achieve sustainability under the other components. Implementing an EA will therefore require tradeoffs as indicated above. Humans are part of fishery systems. Therefore, humans should be explicitly included in the EA to fisheries. Conceptually there seems to be consensus that this should be the case, but in practice few implementations of the EA have done it or seem set to do it.

However, a broad implementation of the EA could work in synergy with a sustainable livelihoods approach in achieving sustainability. The two approaches have different entry points, the EA is generally more concerned with the bio-ecological component of sustainability while the sustainable livelihood approach is more concerned with the human component, but they do seek the same objectives and could be interpreted to mean a common approach. The tools and information requirement for each approach are different however, and so are the benefits. From a human development perspective, the livelihood approach would be expected to bring more rapid pay-offs at lesser costs. A narrow implementation of an ecosystem approach, focussing mostly on the bio-ecological component, could imply huge costs of increasing knowledge with few immediate benefits to society, particularly in developing countries. With appropriate institutions and governance system, it should be possible to implement science-based approaches, in the context of a management objective driven process, at minimal incremental costs with respect to increasing knowledge.

In this context, it is important to avoid over-generalisation, either about poverty and lack of alternatives as a root cause of unsustainability in small-scale fisheries, about what function/role small-scale fisheries should play, or about what policy and management strategy could maintain or enhance their role. The role of small-scale fisheries in a sustainable livelihood approach may well vary from case to case. Two main strategies seem to apply-fishing as part of a settled existence incorporating other income-generating activities, such as farming, trading or involvement in tourism, or specialised fishing by geographically mobile people. The management needs of these two groups-settled farmer-fishers and migrant fisherfolk –are very different and determining their relative importance to the fishery sector and the economy is an important component of the information needs for management.

Understanding the role that fishing plays in the economy and society is also important in guiding sectoral policies and setting management objectives. Small-scale fisheries may play the role of 'safety net' for the landless poor, they may provide a component of a subsistence-orientated livelihood, or they may provide economic opportunities and a source of capital for investment in other ventures, depending on the status of the stocks, the availability of other economic opportunities and the nature of access regimes. In all these cases, fisheries are contributing to some aspect of poverty prevention or poverty reduction. Fishery policy objectives need to be linked with poverty reduction strategies and programmes to allow for successful management, including co-management.

It should be possible to alleviate poverty through fisheries without necessarily increasing fishing effort: improving governance, providing social services and building human and social capital all serve to reduce vulnerability and livelihood insecurity. Reducing vulnerability through empowerment of fishing communities means that more solutions are available to achieve the four components of sustainability than pessimistic assessments of Malthusian crisis in the small-scale sector might suggest. Reduced vulnerability also helps to build a sense of resource stewardship. With increasing security comes increasing concern for the long-term future, including intergenerational concerns.

Poverty alleviation and prevention can be achieved through pro-poor access regimes favouring those with few other opportunities or assets. Some exclusion may be necessary, however: pro-poor policies do not imply that everyone can get in the fishery. Re-allocating resources to favour the poor will not be easy. Where economic benefits can be extracted from resources, those who have economic and political power will tend to control access and revenue flows. Few governments are willing or able to challenge the power and authority of local-level elites who are currently the main economic beneficiaries from fisheries. Access to the fishery should be seen as a tool to achieve the goals society has set. Allocating access rights through auction may in fact bring more benefits to society than granting access to a large number of participants.

4.5 Special issues

Better understanding of the human system in the fishery is necessary in order to understand how to better achieve sustainability under the four components of sustainability.

There are many approaches for governance to achieve sustainability. Fishery management requires taking action before it is possible to be certain of the consequences and hence involves taking risks. Innovation in fishery management is essential to improve sustainability, so sometimes large risks must be taken. Both fisheries and fishery dependent communities differ in their capacity to withstand harm, and this should be an important consideration when deciding how experimental to be in changing fishery management actions.

There is a need to better coordinate the government intervention in fisheries. There are increasing calls for jurisdiction over fisheries to be transferred from fisheries ministries to environmental ministries. This could further subordinate the economic, social, and institutional dimensions of sustainability to the ecological one, and dismiss the potential contribution of industrial fisheries to food security.

Solutions to fisheries problems usually cannot be found solely within the fishery itself. Finding solutions to unsustainability usually requires an integrated view of the social, economic, and ecological systems, each interpreted broadly.

4.6 High seas governance

While progress has been made in legal instruments, there is a fundamental issue about the compatibility of freedom of the high seas with sustainability because of the difficulty to deal with allocations. This is highlighted by the current difficulty that some regional fisheries management organizations are having with the need to provide security to present stakeholders in order to promote stewardship and allocate shares to new entrants. Another dilemma is that nations are generally unwilling to delegate enough power to RFMOs as shown in the lack of enforcement and weak dispute resolution mechanisms, as this is seen as interfering with their sovereign rights. Yet the lack of effective decision making leads to unsustainability.


Management options which improve sustainability appear to be highly case specific, so care should be taken before generalising one success to other circumstances. That being acknowledged, the process followed in finding options which improve sustainability may be more general. It would be worthwhile expending effort studying the processes of seeking sustainable options, rather than just studying the options themselves.

Fishery management systems should assess and monitor costs, including transition costs, of information gathering, monitoring, control and surveillance (including the cost of keeping out those who do not have access rights).

Economies based on resources that fluctuate, or whose market fluctuate, may need that participants move from one sector (of the fishery or of the economy) to another as resources and markets fluctuate.

Experience shows that the job of fishery management is never finished. The solution to today's problem will eventually evolve to raise its own problems.

Systematic approaches to analysing fishery management are important, including the development of indicator systems with suitable reference points for each indicator. It is also important that management advice quantify the risks of exceeding limit reference points. There have been many efforts to develop reference points for biological aspects, but apparently little similar work on social, economic or institutional indicators, although some progress has been made e.g. in the Mediterranean, in the United States, and in Australia.

There exist considerable insight in small-scale fisheries and ways to reduce poverty. Better use should be made of those existing insights, from a variety of perspectives and disciplines (organisation & change management, policy analysis, social psychology, history, geography, demography) that are currently underused. Economics, Sociology, Anthropology and Development Studies are better known but still need a means to better integrate their insights into informing policy and management. Mechanism to set priorities for research and information gathering for small-scale fisheries are also needed.


Senior Lecturer in Natural Resources
School of Development Studies University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom
Tel. No.: (+ 44) (0) 1603 593724
Fax No.: (+ 44 )(0) 1603 451999

Senior Fishery Liaison Officer
International Institutions and Liaison Service
Fisheries Department
Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome
Tel. No.: (+39) 06 57056441
Fax No.: (+39) 06 57056500

Fisheries & Environmental Research Support
Orchard Farm, Cockhill
Castle Cary
United Kingdom
Tel. No.: (+ 44) 1963 350418
Fax No.: (+44) 1963 350418

Management Science/Environmental Studies
Saint Mary's University
Nova Scotia
Canada B3H3C3
Tel. No.: (+902) 420 5732
Fax No.: (+902) 496 8101

Senior Research Fellow
Social Research for Sustainable Fisheries
St. Francis Xavier University
P.O. Box 5000 - Antigonish, Nova Scotia
Tel. No.: (+902) 867 5302
Fax No.: (+902) 867-5395

Small-scale fisheries & Natural Resources
Management Advisor
Waldstrasse 29
56626 Andernach-Namedy
Tel. No.: (+855 16 918782) Cambodia
      (+49 2632 45454) Germany

Team Leader
7 January Street
Department of Agriculture
Forestry and Fisheries
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Tel. No.: (+855) 63 963 525
Fax No.: (+855) 63 963 525

Fishery Resources Division
Fisheries Department
Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
Tel. No.: (+39) 06 57056467
Fax No.: (+39) 06 57054408

Directeur des pêches maritimes
Ministère de l'économie maritime
1 rue Joris
B.P. 289
Tel. No.: (+ 221) 8230137
Fax No.: (+ 221) 8214758

Chief of Licensing Office
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Department of Fisheries
186 Norodom Blvd
P.O. Box 582
Phnom Penh
Tel. No.: (+855) 0 23 215 470
Fax No.: (+ 855) 0 23 215 470

Coordinator, SFLP
Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome
Tel. No.: (+39) 06 57056007
Fax No.: (+39) 06 57056500

Centre for Development Studies
Prasanth Nagar
Ulloor - Thiruvananthapuram
695011 Kerala, India
Tel. No.: +91 471 2 448881
Fax No.: + 91 471 2 447137

1450 Godefroy
Sillery (Québec)
Canada G1T 2E4
Tel. No.: (+1) 418 688 5501
Fax No.: (+1) 418 688 7924

Temporary Lecturer
Centre for Resource Management and
Environmental Studies (CERMES)
University of the West Indies
Cave Hill Campus
Tel. No.: Direct line: (+246) 417 4725
Tel. No.: CERMES: (+246) 417 4316
Fax No.: (+ 246) 424 4204

Assistant Director
Office of Overseas Fisheries Cooperation
Fisheries Agency
1-2-1 Kasumigaseki
Japan 100-8907
Tel. No.: (+81) 3 3503-8971
Fax No.: (+81) 3 3502-0571

Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
200 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0E6
Tel. No.: (+1) 613 990 0288
Fax No.: (+1) 613 954 0807

Gut HochschloB
D-82396 Pähl
Tel. No.: Mobile (+49) 173 3738592

Universidad Marista de Mérida
Periférico Norte Tablaje 13941
Carretera Mérida-Progreso
Mérida, 97300
Tel. No.: (+52) 999 9410302
Fax No.: (+52) 999 9410307

Director of Scientific Programme
and Chief Science Advisor
National Oceanic & Atmospheric
National Marine Fisheries Service
1315 East West Highway, 14451
Silver Spring
Maryland 20910
Tel. No.: (+301) 713 2239
Fax No.: (+301) 713 1940

(Inland Fisheries Research Development Institute)
Department of Fisheries
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
186 Norodom Blvd
P.O. Box 582 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tel No.: Mobile (+855) 0 12 997 005
Fax No.: (+855) 0 23 220 417

Senior Manager, Northern Fisheries
Australian Fisheries Management Authority
22 Brisbane Avenue
ACT, 2610
Tel. No.: (+61) 2 6272 5381
Fax No.: (+61) 2 6272 4614

Vice Chief of Aquaculture Office/PHD Student
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Department of Fisheries
186 Norodom Blvd
P.O. Box 582 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tel. No.: Mobile (+855) 0 12 829-971
Fax No.: (+855) 0 23 210565

Deputy Director of Fisheries Department
Department of Fisheries
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
186 Norodom Blvd
P.O. Box 582 Phnom Penh
Fax No.: (+855) 0 23 210565
Tel. No.: Mobile (+855) 0 12735099

FAO Representative
P.O. Box 53
Phnom Penh
Tel. No.: (+855) 23 216 566
Tel. No. Mobile (+ 855) 012 812 977
Fax No.: (+855) 23 216 547

Senior Fishery Officer
Fishery Policy and Planning Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome
Tel. No.: (+39) 06 57052122
Fax No.: (+39) 06 57056500

Fishery Policy and Planning Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome
Tel. No.: (+39) 06 57052054
Fax No.: (+39) 06 57056500


Tuesday, 13 September 2005
Morning: Opening
[Plenary] Introduction
 Governance and Fisheries Management
 Allocation and Fisheries Management (S. Garcia)
 Conservation and Fisheries Management (J. Rice)
AfternoonIs Fisheries Science helping achieve Sustainability? (J-J Maguire)
 Regional and global governance on the high seas (M.Lodge/VanHoutte)
Wednesday, 14 September 2005
Morning: Access and Fishing rights
[Plenary] Establishing Access Regulation and Rights (J. Catanzano)
 Addressing hurdles for Capacity management (S. Pascoe/Gréboval)
 Secure rights, co-management and sustainability (T. Stone)
 Lessons learned from the Namibian experience (D. Boyer)
Thursday, 15 September 2005
Afternoon: Fishery Management and Sustainability Dimensions
[Plenary] Ecosystem Approach and Management (J. Rice)
 Sustainability, integrated management and coastal systems (T. Charles)
 Early warning, reference point and risk (J. Seijo)
 Economics, environmental aspects, and risk (R. Hannesson)
Friday, 16 September 2005
Morning:   Small scale issues and developing country perspective
[Plenary]Hurdles to Sustainable Fisheries (J. Kurien)
 Scaling management to achieve sustainability (P. McConney/Mahon)
 SSF and Poverty & Livelihood (E. Allison/Horemans)
 SSF and Decentralisation (U. Schmidt)
Afternoon:   Conclusions and Recommendations
[Plenary] Closing

1 From Greek, meaning "across time". When examining a phenomenon there are two basic ways of looking at it: as it exists at some particular moment (synchronic study) or as it develops and changes across time (diachronic study).

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