In the broader framework of development, rights-based approaches focus on the role of people, and constitute a conceptual framework for the process of human development. These are normatively based on international human rights standards and are operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights. In the more specific context of small-scale fisheries and its dependent people and communities, this results firstly in the reinforcing of their claim for recognition in national policy and service provision and for legal protections and support for legitimate livelihood actions.
It also carries a connection with the concept of rights to access resources, though these rights may be modified by various management approaches, ranging from generalised open access rights to more tightly defined bases of ownership under various conditions. Most often here, the need to link responsibilities with rights are being further progressed, and a rights-based approach in fisheries is becoming one in which rights of stakeholders, particularly at small-scale level are being defined and protecting in association with expectations for responsible behaviour.