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The position of small-scale fisheries in Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs) has varied, depending on the extent to which larger industrial fleets have dominated effort, management concern and political interest. However, in most cases, the smaller commercial sector has been well recognized, though the more dispersed artisanal and traditionally inshore fishing activities may not have received much attention. However, greater realization of their social and economic importance, the regional nature of many small scale fisheries, and the collective impact of large numbers of small fishing units, have moved the sector more closely into focus for strategic, policy development, and implementation aims.

Challenges for RFBs

However, the challenges of building and sustaining capacity in RFBs are widely observed, and the complexities and dispersed characteristics of the small-scale sector add further demands to these. Nonetheless, this is an area where, with better information and communications systems becoming available, and with community management approaches gaining ground and becoming better established, there is steadily improving potential to engage the sector more fully in regional management processes.

The recently-established Regional Fishery Body Secretariats Network (RSN) noted that the attention to issues regarding small-scale fisheries will likely continue to grow and acknowledged that small-scale fisheries increasingly interact with large-scale fisheries – bolstering the important role RFBs can play.

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