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.


No posts matching the query were found.

Connecting SDG 14 with the other Sustainable Development Goals through marine spatial planning

This article endeavours to contribute to the growing body of scholarship on SDG linkages by placing at the centre of its focus SDG 14 on the “conservation and sustainable use...

Marine Debris: Understanding, Preventing and Mitigating the Significant Adverse Impacts on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity


The first chapter of this document reviews the state of knowledge of the various impacts of marine debris on marine and coastal biodiversity. It provides an update of the total...

Small-scale fisheries within maritime spatial planning: knowledge integration and power

The paper critically analyses discourses and practices of interactive governance and co-management while visiting Foucault’s power/knowledge concept for investigating the normativity and effects of participation discourses and practices. A particular...

Common Oceans: Global sustainable fisheries management and biodiversity conservation in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction


Oceans make up 70 percent of the planet’s surface and support the livelihoods for millions of people around the world. Despite their important role, numerous threats such as overfishing, destructive...

Report of the FAO workshop on impacts of marine protected areas on fisheries yield, fishing communities and ecosystems, Rome, Italy, 16–18 June 2015


While specific area-based protections including full closures have historically been common fisheries management measures, the specific notion or use of the term MPAs has been mostly restricted to those implemented...

An Updated Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity


This review provides an updated synthesis of the impacts of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity based upon current literature, including emerging research on the geological history of natural ocean acidification...

Developing Marine Protected Area Networks in the Coral Triangle: Good Practices for Expanding the Coral Triangle Marine Protected Area System

We describe six case studies that exemplify different approaches taken to develop MPA networks in the Coral Triangle region at different scales: Nusa Penida in Indonesia; Tun Mustapha Park in...

Transforming management of tropical coastal seas to cope with challenges of the 21st century

We propose expanded use of marine spatial planning as a framework for more effective, pragmatic management based on ocean zones to accommodate conflicting uses. This would force the holistic, regional-scale...

Marine spatial planning: risk or opportunity for fisheries in the North Sea?

The North Sea is one of the busiest marine areas in the world. It is also a major fisheries ground. Bordered by seven countries with their own spatial uses and...

Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs)


Scientific collaboration among dedicated experts to better understand marine biodiversity and support country efforts to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets