Importance of small-scale fisheries

Small-scale fisheries make an important contribution to nutrition, food security, sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation – especially in developing countries. Despite this significant contribution, the issues constraining the sustainable development of small-scale fisheries remain poorly understood.

FAO vision

FAO has recently developed a vision for small-scale fisheries where:

  • the contribution of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development is fully-realized;
  • small-scale fishers and fish workers are not marginalized; and
  • the importance of small-scale fisheries to national economies and food security is recognized, valued and enhanced.

The vision also recognizes that those dependent on the small-scale fisheries sector should be empowered to participate in decision-making with dignity and respect through integrated management of the social, economic and ecological systems underpinning the sector.

Key issues

To achieve this vision, a range of key issues must be addressed, supported by timely and accurate information on which to base decisions and action.

These issues are grouped around five major themes:

  • people and communities, focussing on livelihoods and key aspects of poverty alleviation;
  • the supply chain from catch to markets, looking at opportunities and risks;
  • policy, legislation, governance and institutional arrangements, emphasizing rights-based management approaches and increased integration of small-scale fisheries in decision-making;
  • small-scale fisheries worldwide, spotlighting regional similarities and differences regarding their role, contribution, constraints and challenges;
  • learning and knowledge resources, with a view for methodologies tailored to the small-scale fisheries environment.


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