This book centres on an understanding of fishing livelihoods within processes of historical change, and the social and political relationships within which they are embedded. Drawing on our research experience from the Asia-Pacific region, we examine where fishing livelihoods have come from, and where they are going. This introductory chapter introduces fishing livelihoods and the governance challenge that they face, before examining social science research in greater depth. We then develop the idea of a relational approach to fishing livelihoods, describing how they are shaped by wider political and economic trajectories, by local social relationships and by institutional structures.