Small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean and Black Sea Region represents a key segment of the fishing sector, accounting for the greatest part of the fleet in the region and more than a half of the total workers employed in the sector. Fisher and fishworker households are exposed to different risks and vulnerabilities, including human and natural hazards.

Furthermore, fisheries remain one of the most hazardous occupations with a very high fatality rate. Access to markets, financial, social and institutional services along with diversified and alternative livelihoods opportunities is often poor. Degrading fish stocks and aquatic ecosystems worsen this, along with pressure from climate change and climate-induced shocks and hazards and competition over resources with other sectors.

Despite the key role social protection can have in reducing poverty and vulnerability, social protection often does not reach the small-scale fishing sector. The limited availability of accurate, robust and timely data on the sector, challenged by the high levels of informality, irregularity and seasonal nature of small-scale fishing activity, can result in the exclusion of small-scale fishers from laws governing formal employment, therefore, hindering their participation in national social protection systems.

This study commissioned by the FAO and the GFCM reviewed available social protection systems in five countries in the Mediterranean (Albania, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia). It identifies the conditions and vulnerabilities of fishers, along with best practices in the provision of social protection programs and policies, and proposes recommendations to improve the coverage and effective delivery of social protection programmes for small-scale fishers in the region.