1. Defining progress towards securing sustainable small-scale fisheries
- What do you think are the 5 most relevant chapters, paragraphs, and/or topics of the SSF Guidelines for assessing progress towards securing sustainable small-scale fisheries?
- Please describe why you believe these chapters, paragraphs, and/or topics are most relevant.
Although Sustainable Natural Resource use/management should more generally be seen as a priority for meeting SSF guidelines and more generally the ‘Code’, there are sections that should be considered “priorities” but specifically with reference to “most relevant” for “assessing progress”, might not be. The following fall under the remit specifically of being “most relevant for assessing progress”:
1) 5b Natural Resource Management, specifically: 5.13 States and all those engaged in fisheries management should adopt measures for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources and to secure the ecological foundation for food production. They should promote and implement appropriate management systems, consistent with their existing obligations under national and international law and voluntary commitments, including the Code, that give due recognition to the requirements and opportunities of small scale fisheries.
The rationale for identifying 5b and in particular 5.13 is as follows: Part 2, describes governance requirements, which are an essential enabling condition; employment, gender equality and value chains etc. are essential for securing the value of the SSF and ensuring it is shared equitably; whilst risk and climate are all concerned with mitigating potential threats. Fundamental to the maintenance of SSF is the availability of resources to exploit – without which all other elements become irrelevant – therefore the assessment of Sustainable natural resource use (sustainable harvest, EAFM, etc.) is key to ensuring that resources are maintained, harvested sustainably and remain available for future SSF.
2) 13 Implementation and Monitoring: specifically, “13.4 States should recognize the importance of monitoring systems that allow their institutions to assess progress towards implementation of the objectives and recommendations in these Guidelines. Assessments of the impact on the enjoyment of the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security and on poverty eradication should be included. Mechanisms allowing the results of monitoring to feed back into policy formulation and implementation should be included. Gender should be taken into consideration in monitoring by using gender-sensitive approaches, indicators and data. States and all parties should elaborate participatory assessment methodologies that allow a better understanding and documentation of the true contribution of small-scale fisheries to sustainable resource management for food security and poverty eradication including both men and women.” AND 5.16 States should ensure the establishment of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) systems or promote the application of existing ones applicable to and suitable for small-scale fisheries.
13 is obviously important for assessing progress as it encompasses the implementation and monitoring elements, without which it is not possible to know if progress is being made even if all other guidance is being followed and all elements are being successfully implemented.
As such – tracking progress specifically on implementation and developing suitable monitoring approaches is essential for determining impact of the SSF guidelines and progress in meeting objectives.
3) Meeting the objectives of the SSF 1.1, and 1.2 (and Guiding Principles), more specifically: 1.1 c) to achieve the sustainable utilization, prudent and responsible management and conservation of fisheries resources consistent with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (the Code) and related instruments,
Outlining the Objectives is essential for supporting progress assessment as it frames “the what” for assessment (i.e. what is the goal and how will we know when we have reached it) and helps to identify how you can define the indicators of progress towards the goals. Thus, the Objectives should be used to create indicators with benchmarks for framing progress on whether these stated objectives have been achieved. The Guiding Principles are also important because they also represent the conditions by which the objectives should be met and should thus be used to ensure that meeting the objectives is not negatively impact any of the principles.
4) Governance (and enabling conditions, rights and responsibility), specifically 1.1 c) to achieve the sustainable utilization, prudent and responsible management and conservation of fisheries resources consistent with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (the Code) and related instruments, AND 5.20 States should avoid policies and financial measures that may contribute to fishing overcapacity and, hence, overexploitation of resources that have an adverse impact on small-scale fisheries AND 5.14 All parties should recognize that rights and responsibilities come together; tenure rights are balanced by duties, and support the long-term conservation and sustainable use of resources and the maintenance of the ecological foundation for food production.
Enabling conditions in the form of governance and tenure are essential for enabling SSF and as such these sections should be used to benchmark progress towards the enabling conditions that are essential for meeting the objectives. Equally a clear objective is to generate the revenues from fisheries for SSF, thus tracking progress in enabling conditions for securing revenues is also important for meeting the objectives.
5) Links to the CODE: ensuring that actions for meeting SSF guidelines are in-line with meeting the CODE. Specifically, Objective 1.1 c) to achieve the sustainable utilization, prudent and responsible management and conservation of fisheries resources consistent with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (the Code) and related instruments, AND 5.13 They should promote and implement appropriate management systems, consistent with their existing obligations under national and international law and voluntary commitments, including the Code, that give due recognition to the requirements and opportunities of small-scale fisheries.
The links to the “CODE” in the Preface (and mentioned elsewhere) is important and also represents an important section relevant for assessment because ultimately the SSF objectives and guidelines should meet the CODE and if progress tracked against the SSF objectives is not consistent with meeting the CODE, this should be highlighted and addressed.
- At what geographical scale should progress be measured (e.g. local, national)?
A combination of scales. Ideally the scale should allow monitoring at the local level that can be aggregated to something meaningful at the national level and comparable between nations – in order to do this a certain amount of bespoke decision-making around monitoring is need whilst making sure that indicators (or at least some of them) can be comparable between nations. Examples of such are creating milestones that ask whether planning / strategy documents have been prepared and identifying key items that all strategies should include such as enabling instruments, whilst including additional elements that countries will develop for tracking progress specific to each countries specific requirements
2. Meaningful and feasible indicators: How can we measure progress?
- Do you have suggestions for indicators that could be used to assess progress towards the priorities you identified under part 1? Please discuss whether you consider these indicators mandatory versus “nice to have.”
1) Sustainability of natural resource use
Tracking against benchmarks and milestones towards meeting sustainability of resource use, such as,
- Measures for the long-term “conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources and to secure the
ecological foundation for food production” have been defined
- Measures have been tested and adapted to the local context
- Legal frameworks exist for the measures to be implemented
- Stakeholders have rights over resources and consider themselves responsible for conservation and sustainable use
- Measures are being implemented
- Effectiveness of measures are being evaluated for their impact on the goal of conservation and sustainable use
- Benchmarks for sustainable use have been defined
- Evaluation of impact of management measures on resources show positive impacts – requiring the addition of a specific series of indicators:
NB – the series of benchmarks and steps would also provide a system for tracking progress towards other key elements, such as the governance needs, legal frameworks, rights and responsibilities. Therefore, addressing the fundamental inter-connectedness of the SSF guidelines and their relationship to the CODE.
2) Development of monitoring systems and capacity
- Measures for M&E of each critical component (against each objective) have been defined / designed / developed, incorporating benchmarks, milestones and intermediate goals.
- Measures for M&E have been piloted/ tested for their effectiveness
- Measures for M&E are consistently being implemented
- M&E measures are demonstrating target impacts
Generation of specific indicators under each objectives could be used to frame the way that progress is measured/monitored.
4) Governance, Tenure / ownership / responsibility, Revenue
e.g. Extent of ownership and responsibility, revenue generation from SSF, Legal instruments in place.
- Extent of participation, (and break down by gender, indigenous people’s etc.), in planning
- Integration into law
- Extent of co-management
- Measures have been designed – track progress against general measures of design appropriate for all in management designs (e.g. protected areas, forest management, etc.) and context/country-specific ones select
- Measures have been designed - track progress against general measures of implementation appropriate for all in management designs (e.g. protected areas, forest management, etc.) and context/country-specific ones select
5) Alignment of SSF achievements with the CODE
Integration of monitoring framework with progress to meet the code.
- If possible, please provide examples of where the indicators you suggest have been used successfully, including in data- and capacity-limited contexts.
The majority of the recommended indicators are related to process and, as such are easy to measure in a ‘done/not done’ approach, providing important information on progress but not necessarily meeting the objective of evaluating impact of implementing the guidelines.
Many of the specific indicators of impact of following the SSF guidelines can also focus on each of the enabling conditions in a ‘completed/not completed’ manner. E.g. Are the appropriate legislations in place to allow SSF rights of access? In other cases, progress can be tracked in a similar way but will need to be evaluated against a defined framework of benchmarks or acceptable targets. For example, 5.14 recognizing rights and responsibilities – defining the target is necessary to describe when this ‘target’ has been achieved. A starting point for tracking progress would therefore be to assess whether a country has defined these targets, the enabling conditions are in place to reach the targets, planning process designed, etc. A similar process can be used to track progress for gender equality. I.e. Are men and women equally represented in dialogues? Are indigenous people’s represented in decision-making processes? Etc. Likewise, for revenue generation. What is the target for SSF to contribute to economies? Are the enabling conditions in place (legal frameworks, rights, etc.?) Are those targets being met? With regard to the sustainable management aims of the SSF, ultimately, all processes can be achieved successfully but not necessarily be meeting the goal of whether the SSF are being managed sustainably. To measure the impact it is necessary to start measuring natural resource availability, starting by defining what ‘sustainable harvest’ would mean for a given system and what the targets need to be. Again application of steps would look something like – Has sustainability been defined (in whatever way possible – based on the data and information available for the system (see below for examples)? Are the enabling conditions in place to regulate harvest to meet these yields (e.g. laws, regulations, gear restrictions, management units, etc.? Are the regulations being implemented?
Adopting a similar framework across the objectives makes progress tracking more coherent, consistent and measurable: setting stepwise and timebound priorities, objectives and benchmarks within each of the objectives of the SSF; providing guidelines for measures but remaining flexible for selection of indicators to allow both consistency and relevance; defining and tracking progress in the enabling conditions for meeting targets; and remaining flexible to update as relevant.
The greatest challenge is determining whether implementation of the SSF guidelines are having the impact intended/expected? (requiring measuring the fishery resources themselves in some capacity). A number of tools are suggested below for assessing resource availability and tracking sustainability in SSF.
- Please describe any monitoring and evaluation frameworks and data sources you are aware of that could be drawn on to measure these indicators.
A Handbook prepared by Fishbio for evaluating impact of conservation interventions is a useful reference: https://www.mekongfishnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Guidebook-for-Assessing-FCZs-in-Lao-PDR_FISHBIO-1.pdf.
My own publication, describes experiences and an effective system for “Monitoring of tropical freshwater fish resources for sustainable use” Elliott et al. 2018
And the following as a specific technical guide: https://www.worldfishcenter.org/content/developing-methodology-standardized-fish-monitoring-mekong-basin-0 Boon, L., Elliott, V., Phauk, S., Pheng, S., Souter, N., Payooha, K., Jutagate, T., Duong, V.N. (2016). Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (Fisheries Administration) and WorldFish. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
3. Participatory monitoring: Key elements and experiences
- What do you think are key elements of successful participatory monitoring?
Legal / jurisdictional and a feeling of ownership of the monitoring by the participants
Engaging the most relevant stakeholders and ensuring they have jurisdiction to carry out the monitoring (usually community partnerships with government and commerce)
Ensuring that the participants are interested in collecting the results and have the capacity to use them to inform their actions.
Supportive networks of communities
Trust among stakeholders
- What are your experiences with participatory monitoring?
I have set-up 3 different systems of participatory monitoring in the Mekong: 1) for measuring inland fisheries resource availability, working with community members serving as citizen-scientists, 2) a voluntary network of inland fishers for monitoring fishery harvest, and 3) local community monitoring for determining impacts of conservation and fisheries management interventions.
Application of the WorldFish “salapoum” approach of engaging communities in local monitoring supports the key need of participants engaged in monitoring having a heightened awareness of the purpose and outcomes of monitoring and how they can be applied to adaptive management and implementing community led EAFM:
- Who should be the key actors involved in or responsible for the design and implementation of a monitoring system for the SSF Guidelines?
National and International Scientists
Local stakeholders – particularly for feasibility
National and local government (and regional if transboundary issues are relevant)
(NB – to include government representatives of fisheries and the environment, but also representatives of Ministries responsible for labour, revenue, value-chains, etc. in order to meet relevant targets outside
Independent experts to potentially act as mediators / provide overall perspective to the process AND FAO representatives that can support consistency among countries.
Dr. Vittoria Elliott