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Development and management strategies interact, affecting the fishery system respectively at the strategic (long term) and operational (short to medium term) scales. In most countries national economic and social policies influence the formulation of policies for fisheries and aquaculture. Public strategies adopted for development are thus guided by policy objectives which may range from food security to higher incomes or may focus on employment, conservation, the rational use of environmental resources, or on an increase in foreign exchange earnings. In order to be effective, fishery management strategies must therefore be nested in development policies, contributing to their objectives and benefiting from the enabling environment they constitute.

Since World War II, public strategies for fisheries have relied on a Fordist development model,  aiming at growth and expansion, implemented under centralised, public-funded, fisheries administrations, with the support of science and technology. Since the early 1970s, following the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, the development model has progressively focussed on sustainability and resilience, calling for more ecologically conscious and participative forms  of governance. 

The conventional objectives of resources productivity and sector growth have progressively been augmented to cover food security, poverty alleviation, sustainable livelihoods, and environmental protection. The strategic policy frameworks have evolved with the adoption of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982, in force since 1994), the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the 1993 FAO Compliance agreement, the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the 1995 UN Fish Stock Agreement.

The approaches to development have also changed from a single-sector, State-supported strategy (using subsidies) to a spatially integrated cross-sectoral approach using economic and social incentives with strong human capacity and institutional development components. The fisheries administrations of many of the poorest developing countries are indeed not able to execute effectively the tasks they were established to undertake because they do not have the means to do so. The development and maintenance of skill levels of personnel in fisheries administrations through training is therefore an essential element in achieving sustainable fisheries development.

Strategies for developing countries

Since 1999, the World Bank has guided the way with its Poverty Reduction Strategies and its assistance which has been delivered to developing countries. The four main principles are:

  • development strategies should be comprehensive and shaped by a long-term vision;
  • development goals and strategies should be "owned" by the country, based on local stakeholder participation in shaping them; 
  • countries receiving assistance should lead the management and coordination of aid programs through stakeholder partnerships; and 
  • development performance should be evaluated through measurable results on the ground, in order to adjust the strategy to outcomes and a changing world.


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