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Data for change: measuring the contributions of small-scale fisheries

Environment Programme / Partner story

Picture by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels

Around the world, millions of people in coastal communities rely on fishing for food and jobs. In these communities, small-scale fisheries (SSFs) represent a way of life that has shaped development, environmental stewardship values, and culture over thousands of years.

Despite their importance for livelihoods and environmental protection, SSFs tend to be understudied and ignored. Data about their environmental, economic, and social contribution is often not collected, limiting local or national policy efforts that support SSFs as compared to industrial fishing methods.

To shed light on the impact of small-scale fisheries and help governments and not-for-profit organisations collect this crucial missing data, a coalition of experts launched a free online training course, accompanied by a detailed handbook, entitled “Compiling data on the contributions of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development,” available for download here.

The course teaches participants the importance of using data to highlight the benefits of SFFs, drawing on examples of how data was collected and documented for a recent global study entitled “Illuminating Hidden Harvests.” The study demonstrated the crucial role of small-scale fisheries in the areas of food security, nutrition, livelihoods, and poverty eradication, all important contributions for sustainable development.

The course is free for anyone to access on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) e-learning website, but is specially designed for policymakers and national fisheries administration officials. It was designed as part of a wider effort to create guidelines for decision-makers on governing small-scale fisheries by a coalition including Oak partners, the Marine Lab at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in North Carolina, United States and WorldFish.

This grant falls under our Environment Programme, which supports solutions that benefit both communities and the ecosystem. The Oak Foundation’s vision is to help build a field which effectively improves small-scale fisheries governance and supports small-scale fishery leaders in their self-strengthening process to safeguard marine ecosystems and protect their livelihoods. You can read more about Duke University’s Marine Lab here and more about WorldFish here. You can learn more about our Environment Programme strategy here.