By far the most populous region of the world, with the greatest fisheries and aquaculture outputs and the largest markets for fishery products, the Asian region is also the most important in terms of small-scale fisheries employment, output and economic value. A diverse range of methods and species is involved, with much of the output from productive mixed-species tropical or sub-tropical waters in inland and coastal area, which are relatively resilient in biomass terms, though higher value species are often under great pressure.
The size and diversity of the small-scale sector and its mobility and adaptability have presented considerable governance challenges, often in the midst of other pressing priorities in economic growth for the countries concerned. The more recent realizations of the total scale of the industry and it potential impact on resources, as well as its livelihood importance in many of the communities concerned, has brought about a steady change in policy focus and commitment for ensuring more sustainable use of resources and delivery of benefits. However the size and nature of the challenges of doing so have meant that these changes will only come about with continued effort and strong policy support.