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National and more local concens and responsibilities for resource protection, social equity and economic development are formally realised through the setting out of a collection of policy aims and definitions, and a legal structure and system which supports the implementation of policy. In many countries, fishery sector policy has traditionally focused on resources, with much less attention, or linkage, to issues concerning the people engaged or dependent on fishing. This is particularly the case for small-scale fisheries, for which policy coverage may be non-existent, irrelevant, or potentially damaging to the needs and concerns of the sector.

Likewise, the positioning of fisheries-related content within legal frameworks, the implications for their implementation, and the real sanctions and protections offered to poorer and more vulnerable people are critical in providing the right conditions for support and development. In this respect also, as well as adjusting or developing policy and legal frameworks, increasing attention is being given to their performance and application in the practical realities of resource management, equity and rights, food security and poverty alleviation.

 
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