La pérdida y el desperdicio de alimentos en las cadenas de valor del pescado
©FAO/Ansen Ward

Small-Scale Fisheries

Small-scale and artisanal fisheries play an important role in food security and nutrition, poverty eradication, equitable development and sustainable resource utilization. Their actions, undertaken by men and women, encompass all activities along the value chain – pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest – and contribute about half of global fish catches. When considering catches destined for direct human consumption, the share contributed by the small-scale fisheries increases to two-thirds. These actions by small-scale fisheries provide nutritious food for local, national, and international markets and generate income to support local and national economies.

The small-scale fisheries sector tends to be firmly rooted in local communities, traditions and values, but tends to have low visibility and receive little attention from policy-makers. Small-scale fisheries, and in particular artisanal fisheries are typically composed of a very large number of fishers employing low-level fishing technology and have minimal infrastructure for landing. Many small-scale fishers are self-employed and usually provide fish for direct consumption within their households or communities. Women are significant participants in the sector, particularly in post-harvest and processing activities.

It is estimated that about 90 percent of all people directly dependent on capture fisheries work in the small-scale fisheries sector. As such, small-scale fisheries serve as an economic and social engine, providing food and nutrition security, employment and other multiplier effects to local economies while underpinning the livelihoods of riparian communities.

Large Scale Fisheries

Large scale fisheries play an important role in food security and nutrition and sustainable resource utilization. Large scale fisheries employ men and women and encompass all activities along the value chain. Large scale fisheries also contribute significantly to global fish catches, providing nutritious food for local, national, and international markets and generate income to support local and national economies.

The large scale fisheries sector tends to be controlled by fishing companies and organized businesses. Large scale fishing vessels are typically mechanized and employ advanced fishing technology. These larger vessels typically land fish in ports, which have developed infrastructure and services. The vessel owners employ the fishers, and both men and women are employed in processing activities. 

Large scale fisheries include:

  • Coastal demersal fisheries (shrimp trawlers, fish and cephalopod trawlers, long liners, gillnetters, shellfish dredges)
  • Deep-sea demersal fisheries (shrimp trawlers, fish trawlers, long liners, spiny lobster trap boats)
  • Coastal pelagic fisheries (purse seiners and trawlers)
  • Offshore pelagic fisheries (live bait fishing boats, purse seiners, tuna and swordfish long liners)
  • Vessels which specifically supply the fish meal industry


Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Farming implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, and protection from predators. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated.  

For statistical purposes, aquatic organisms which are harvested by an individual or corporate body which has owned them throughout the rearing period are considered aquaculture. Aquatic organisms which are exploitable by the public as common property resources, with or without appropriate licenses, are otherwise considered the harvest of fisheries.