On behalf of the Environment Programme, we are happy to share a new global assessment of small-scale fisheries recently completed by Duke University. Small-scale fisheries account for more than 90 per cent of the world’s commercial fishers, processors and other persons employed along the value chain, equivalent to more than 108 million people. Roughly half are employed on the ocean and the other half in inland fisheries – making small-scale fisheries the ocean’s largest employer.
This level of activity translates into a large portion of the global fish catch: an estimated 46 per cent of the total, and 38 per cent of the fish caught in the ocean. Small-scale fisheries are also estimated to provide over half the animal protein intake in many of the world’s least developed countries, and over half of the fish for domestic consumption in developing countries more broadly. In sum, in many regions of the world, small-scale fisheries provide both incomes to help reduce poverty, and safety nets to prevent it. Despite their importance, small-scale fisheries are often hidden or absent from national statistics, and frequently ignored in states’ policy-making.
More than 40 per cent of the people employed in small-scale fisheries live in China, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Small-scale fisheries play a role in maintaining local culture in many regions and other important community-level values that cannot be measured in demographic or economic terms alone. This is particularly the case for countries and regions with smaller populations highly reliant on small-scale fisheries, for example indigenous peoples from the Arctic and the Western Pacific.
Small-scale fisheries are facing significant social or shared problems, including exploitation to conflicts over space and resources. This comprehensive assessment captures historical research trends on small-scale fisheries governance systems but also the complexities of managing those resources with diverse goals in mind such as economic development, food security, natural resource management, employment and conservation. Key recommendations from the report include:
See below for the full attached Duke University assessment and related recommendations.