Water covers 70 percent of the Earth. Marine and freshwater environments sustain an abundance of life in its spectacular diversity. Through our history, small-scale fishing communities have interacted and depended on these living resources. A threat to aquatic environments is a danger to artisanal fishers.

Their protection and stewardship are essential to the communities and cultures they sustain. This relationship is a framework to manage conflicts and improve the quality of life and livelihood of small-scale fishers. It was recognized in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Governments increasingly designate marine protected areas (MPAs) for conservation and management. This legal instrument does help but its implementation has raised serious concerns. Target-driven expansion of MPAs is fixated on quantitative goals. This has hit the rights, livelihoods and sustainable use practices of small-scale fishing communities. MPAs—created often in a non-consultative and non-participatory manner—have focused on regulating/restricting their fisheries, failing to recognize their sustainable livelihoods, culture and survival.

It is imperative that protection efforts are grounded in principles of sustainable use. That their processes are inclusive and recognizebuilding upon them. Artisanal fishers must be the frontline of marine biodiversity conservation. There is an urgent need for systematic improvements on all such matters.

A range of ICSF’s initiatives highlight the social and political dimensions of conservation. The importance of livelihoods of poor and vulnerable communities, of their participation and consultation. The co-management of resources by fishing communities, based on a human rights approach to conservation.

Current Programmes

Participation at CBD meetings, and collaboration with fish workers organizations, local community and indigenous groups is useful in contesting target driven and top-down approaches to conservation, and the associated violations of human rights linked to these approaches. It is also useful in influencing the text of the decisions adopted to take on board indigenous and local community concerns.


Social Dimensions of Sea Turtle Protection in Orissa, India: A Case Study of the Gahirmatha (Marine) Wildlife Sanctuary band the Nesting Beaches of Rushikulya and Debi

This study focuses on the legal framework for sea turtle protection in the Indian State of Orissa. It documents the social consequences of turtle protection measures on fishing communities, and...

Fishing Community Issues in the Sundarban Tiger Reserve (STR)1

The study focuses on fishing community issues in the Sundarban Tiger Reserve (STR). It provides an overview of the legal framework, and design and implementation of fishing regulations, and documents...

An Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) – BOBMLE – ICSF Brochure in six languages (English, Bangla, Thai, Tamil, Burmese, and Bahasa)

A pictorial training material on ecosystem approach to fisheries management as part of the ICSF-BOBLME initiated training activity in six languages (English, Bangla, Thai, Tamil, Burmese, and Bahasa) English

Coastal and Marine Protected Areas in India: Challenges and Way Forward

The marine protected area network in India has been used as a tool to manage natural marine resources for biodiversity conservation and for the well-being of people dependent on it....

Le Droit De Survivre : Turtle Conservation and Fisheries Livelihood (French) Directed by Rita Banerji and Shilpa Sharma and produced by ICSF, 2006

By taking an intense look at the concerns revolving around turtle conservation and the protection of the livelihoods of traditional fishing communities, this film offers some insights into the dilemmas...

Reserved Parking: Marine Reserves and Small-scale Fishing Communities: A collection of articles from SAMUDRA Report

This dossier puts together a collection of articles from the pages of SAMUDRA Report, the triannual journal of ICSF. The articles show that conservation and livelihoods are closely intertwined, and...

Regional Study on Social Dimensions of MPA Practice in Central America: Cases Studies from Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panamá

This report of research undertaken jointly by CoopeSoliDar R.L and the ICSF focuses on the social dimensions of marine conservation, and assesses the experiences of coastal and fishing communities in...

The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture

SoW-BFA addresses the sustainable use, development and conservation of BFA includingthe diversity of animals, plants and micro-organisms at genetic, species and ecosystem levels that sustain structures, functions and processes IN...

The global assessment report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – Summary for Policymakers

National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs)

These NBSAPs reflect varying degrees of compliance with the Nagoya outcomes. They are accessible below (their date of receipt by the Secretariat or the date on which the NBSAP was officially launched...

Decisions on marine and coastal biological diversity

International Symposium on Fisheries Sustainability Strengthening the science-policy nexus, Rome, 18–21 November 2019


For each thematic session of the Symposium, the document includes: i. the contents of the session, ii. a ‘what you need to know’ section, iii. the themes and composition of...

Sustainable development: Oceans and the law of the sea: oceans and the law of the sea

2020 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

The overall scope of the assessment is to assess the status and trends with regard to biodiversity and ecosystem services, the impact of biodiversity and ecosystem services on human well-being...

UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’, 2019

Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns...

Our Oceans’ Last Chance: Protect the High Seas

Only about half of 1 percent of the high seas are fully protected from fishing, mining, and other human activity. Delegates from more than 100 countries met at the United...