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Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries
in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication

Illuminating Hidden Harvests Project

Millions of metric tons of fish from the small-scale fisheries sector are hidden (unreported). This was shown in the study Hidden Harvest: The Global Contribution of Capture Fisheries synthesized in 2012 by the FAO, the World Bank and WorldFish.

Currently, the FAO and WorldFish are again collecting unreported small-scale fisheries information and data, this time in partnership with Duke University under a new project called Illuminating Hidden Harvests.

Data and knowledge generated by the research will contribute to effective decision-making on small-scale fisheries by policymakers and enable fishing communities and advocates to make a strong case for support in the sector. In this way, the research supports implementation of the SSF Guidelines and progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Like the 2012 Hidden Harvests study, the new project is based on a case study approach. It delves deeper into the social, environmental, economic and governance effects and roles of marine and inland small-scale fisheries at local and global level.


The first study, from 2012, on the diverse and misreported livelihood and economic contributions of capture fisheries globally, presented the following key quantitative findings:

  • Approximately 120 million full-time and part-time workers are directly dependent on commercial capture fisheries value chains for their livelihoods.
  • Ninety-seven percent (116 million) of these people live in developing countries. Among them,
    • more than 90 percent (including almost 32 million fishers) work in the small-scale fisheries subsector,
    • 47 percent of the total workforce is women, which in developing countries equates to 56 million jobs,
    • over half (60 million) of those employed in fisheries value chains in developing countries work in small-scale inland fisheries, and
    • 73 percent (approximately 23 million) of developing country fishers and fish workers live in Asia.
  • An estimated 5.8 million fishers in the world earn less than $1 per day.

Catch & Culture: A Deep Look at Small-Scale Fisheries

A video by Nereus Program UW on underestimated value of small-scale fisheries