No More Tuna for Japan’s Sushi?

Japan is the world’s biggest consumer of tuna. Fishermen on the island of Iki are challenging official policy so as to stop the decline of Pacific bluefin tuna stocks.

Minoru Nakamura, a fisherman from Iki Island, recalled the biggest tuna he had ever caught, back in 2013. “It weighed 319 kilos. It was so big I couldn’t get it into the boat, and I had to lash it to the hull. A fish this size being rare, it made the front page of the local newspaper. A photograph showed Nakamura next to his enormous catch, 2.7 meters long, hanging from a crane. He looked proud, but not ecstatic: Their precarious livelihood makes these independent fishermen humble. “I can go for ten weeks without catching anything , he said at the time; today that sounds like a prophecy. This remarkable fish was one of the last Pacific bluefin tuna over 300 kilos to be caught off Iki.

Nakamura and his colleagues have petitioned the Fisheries Agency, part of Japan’s agriculture, forestry, and fisheries ministry, several times. The agency maintains that falling catches are due to climate change. “They say the tuna have moved to the waters off Korea, where we’re not allowed to fish, said Nakamura, who doesn’t believe it. The fishermen blame the powerful industrial fishing vessels operated by big companies like Nippon Suisan Kaisha (Nissui), which has 10,000 employees. These come from Sakaiminato, a mainland port 400 kilometers northeast of Iki. They started catching adult tuna in the Sea of Japan in 2004, the year Iki’s fishermen began to see their catch fall. Sakaiminato vessels seek out schools of tuna with sonar, then encircle them with a purse seine more than 1 kilometer in circumference. They catch up to 50 tons each time they deploy the net, and a total of 1,500 tons in June and July, when they fish most intensively. The Iki fishermen, who use pole and line, rarely catch more than 1.2 tons a month per boat.

Such intensive fishing is “a heavy burden on the environment, says Kazue Komatsubara, an ocean campaigner with Greenpeace Japan. “It allows them to catch large numbers of fish of all sizes and species. According to a report by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC), nearly 60 percent of all tuna landed by Japanese vessels in the last three decades have been caught by this method.

from a report in The Nation by Yuta Yagishita



Sami Village Wins Court Battle

A Sami village has won a court battle with the Swedish state over hunting and fishing rights in its territory, being awarded significant compensation in the process.

The Swedish Court of Appeal decided that the Sami village of Girjas now has what is described as “a better right to determine hunting and fishing in its territory, but not the “sole right to manage hunting and fishing permissions independently of the state.

The village still has to work together with the state and be in agreement with the local county government, according to the verdict. Sami villages are cooperatives that organize reindeer herding within specific geographical areasthere are 51 in Sweden.

The verdict may not be entirely perfect for Girjas, but the court has also ordered the losing partythe Swedish stateto pay the village approximately four million kronor (US$499,800).

The Sami village of Girjas has been to court on several occasions over the village’s right to determine hunting and fishing in the territory. In 2016, Girjas won its first court case against the Swedish state, providing the village with the right to have a say in fishing and hunting rights, but the state appealed.




Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA)

The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) is a fishermen-led organization building a broad movement toward healthy fisheries and fishing communities. Located in the northeast area of the United States, NAMA is the leading voice opposing industrial fisheries policies and industrial seafood markets. Their recent campaign work helped lead to the sentencing of the largest fishing fleet owner in the US, also known as the Codfather. For the past decade, they have been helping organize fishermen to form alternative, community-based economic models for selling their catch.

NAMA was set up in 1995 by a group of fishermen and fishing-community advocates to explore alternative management structures. We believed there had to be a better approach to protecting our oceans and managing our marine resources. NAMA set out on a decade-long pursuit of collaborative research and visioning toward realizing community- and ecosystem-based management.

In late 2007, NAMA went through a transition that led to the hiring of our new director, Niaz Dorry, in early 2008. After a re-evalutation of NAMA’s work, two things emerged: (1) We decided to do work through the food system lens because we knew it would be a game changer and no other organization was approaching fisheries work through the food system lens. (2) We adopted a new organizing model that uses a decentralized collaborative approach, convening the Fish Locally Collaborative (FLC). This approach was being used by friends at the Coming Clean Collaborative at the time with a great success in bringing a diverse cross-section of communities and allies working on the frontlines of eliminating persistent pollutants.

We see a future where a powerful network of community-based fishermen, crew, fishworkers and their allies are organized effectively, a future where marine ecosystems are protected from industrialization, privatization and overexploitation, a future where vibrant and viable fishing communities thrive and support community-based fishermen.

Right now the ocean is in an unhealthy state due to multiple stressors, including climate change, toxic pollution, clear felling of forests, ocean acidification, fishing activities, industrial agriculture, industrial mining and drilling, seismic testing, privatization, consolidation, and more. We need to address all these issues in order to have a holistic approach to marine conservation and fisheries management.

Small- and medium-scale community-based fishermen must be the leading voice for the changes we seek. In order to do this, they must be supported by networks of diverse stakeholders that are well-connected, aligned around shared values, action-oriented, and working from the bottom up.

To learn more visit:

by Brett Tolley, NAMA


2022 declared International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture

The United Nations, in a Resolution (A/72/L.12) of 22 November 2017,

Reaffirms the importance it attaches to the long-term conservation, management and sustainable use of the living marine resources of the world’s oceans and seas and the obligations of States to cooperate to this end, in accordance with international law, as reflected in the relevant provisions of the Convention, in particular the provisions on cooperation set out in Part V and Part VII, section 2, of the Convention, and where applicable, the Agreement;

Encourages States, directly or through regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements, to establish and implement rebuilding and recovery strategies and plans where a stock is identified as being overfished, which should include time frames and probabilities of recovery aimed at bringing the stock back at least to levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield, and guided by scientific assessment and subjected to periodic evaluation of progress;

Also encourages States to apply the precautionary approach and ecosystem approaches in adopting and implementing conservation and management measures addressing, inter alia, by-catch, pollution and overfishing, and protecting habitats of specific concern, taking into account existing guidelines developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations;

Encourages States to implement, individually and through regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements, accurate, complete, reliable and effective data collection and reporting of required data on catches, including by-catch and discards, reviewing and validating the data, and providing catch information in support of scientific stock assessment and ecosystem approaches to fisheries management;

Reaffirms paragraph 10 of its resolution 61/105 of 8 December 2006, and calls upon States, including through regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements, to urgently adopt and implement measures to fully implement the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks for directed and non-directed shark fisheries, based on the best available scientific information, through, inter alia, limits on catch or fishing effort;

Calls upon States to take immediate and concerted action to improve the implementation of and compliance with existing regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements and national measures that regulate shark fisheries and incidental catch of sharks, in particular those measures which prohibit or restrict fisheries conducted solely for the purpose of harvesting shark fins and, where necessary, to consider taking other measures, as appropriate, such as requiring that all sharks be landed with each fin naturally attached;

Calls upon regional fisheries management organizations with the competence to regulate highly migratory species to strengthen or establish precautionary, science-based conservation and management measures, as appropriate, for sharks taken in fisheries within their convention areas consistent with the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks;

Urges States to eliminate barriers to trade in fish and fisheries products which are not consistent with their rights and obligations under the World Trade Organization agreements, taking into account the importance of the trade in fish and fisheries products, particularly for developing countries;

Recalls that, in “The future we want, States committed themselves to observing the need to ensure access to fisheries and the importance of access to markets by subsistence, small-scale and artisanal fisherfolk and women fish workers, as well as indigenous peoples and their communities, particularly in developing countries, especially small island developing States;

Takes note of resolution 6/2017, entitled “International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, adopted by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations at its fortieth session, held in Rome from 3 to 8 July 2017;

Proclaims the year beginning on 1 January 2022 the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, invites the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to serve as lead agency for the Year, in collaboration with other relevant organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, and stresses that the cost of all activities that may arise from the implementation of the present paragraph, above and beyond activities currently within the mandate of the implementing agency, should be met from voluntary contributions;

Urges States and relevant international and national organizations to provide for the participation of small-scale fishery stakeholders in related policy development and fisheries management strategies in order to achieve long-term sustainability for such fisheries, consistent with the duty to ensure the proper conservation and management of fisheries resources, and encourages States to consider promoting, as appropriate, participatory management schemes for small-scale fisheries in accordance with national laws, regulations and practices, as well as the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations;

Welcomes action taken by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and a number of regional organizations to support the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication through regional plans of action, dedicated working groups and other initiatives;

Encourages States, either directly or through competent and appropriate subregional, regional or global organizations and arrangements, to analyse, as appropriate, the impact of fishing for marine species corresponding to low trophic levels;

Welcomes, in this regard, the initiation of further studies by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations of the impact of industrial fishing activities on species corresponding to low trophic levels;

Invites the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to consider the potential effects of genetically engineered fish species on the health and sustainability of wild fish stocks and on the biodiversity of the aquatic environment and to provide guidance, consistent with the Code, on minimizing harmful impacts in this regard;

Also invites the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in consultation with other relevant international organizations, including the International Maritime Organization, to promote awareness and cooperation to develop and strengthen capacity to prevent, minimize and mitigate the adverse impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity, including fish stocks.

Source: Excerpts from UN. 2017. Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments,


ICSF’s Documentation Centre ( has a range of information resources that are regularly updated. A selection:


Islands in Flux: The Andaman and Nicobar Story. Pankaj Sekhsaria. 2017. HarperCollins India. 304p

A compilation of writings on key issues and developments in India’s Andamanand Nicobar Islands over the last two decades, featuring information, insight and perspective related to the environment, wildlife conservation, development and the indigenous communities of these islands.

Social Issues in Sustainable Fisheries Management. Urquhart, J., Acott, T., Symes, D., Zhao, M. (Eds.). 2014. MARE Publication Series Springer. 
An interdisciplinary mix of perspectives and studies on social issues in fisheries from a diverse range of case studies and research disciplines that makes a case regarding the dearth of attention to socio-cultural considerations which, to date, have been largely treated as an externality of fisheries policy.

Fishery Exports and the Economic Development of LDCs: Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Comoros, Mozambique, Myanmar and Uganda. 2016. UNCTAD
The study presents evidence from six case studiesBangladesh, Cambodia, the Comoros, Mozambique, Myanmar and Ugandaand provides policy conclusions and recommendations for action by stakeholders in LDCs and their development partners.

An inventory of new technologies in fisheries. Pierre Girard and Thomas Du Payrat. OECD, 2017

A compendium of new information and monitoring technologies that are potential game-changers for fisheries management and can help the ‘green growth’ of the sector. Source:

Hidden Chains: Forced Labour and Rights Abuses in Thailand’s Fishing Industry. 2018. Human Rights Watch. 148p

This report documents forced labour and other human-rights abuses in the Thai fishing sector. It identifies poor working conditions, recruitment processes, terms of employment, and industry practices that put already vulnerable migrant workers into abusive situationsand often keep them there. Source:


Climate Justice in Sápmi Oceans, The Voice of the Invisibles

This documentary follows the journey of a filmmaker who is preparing a report on the disappearance of marine species, and the dramatic situation of the seas. Is the protection of the environment the only objective of certain environmental NGOs. Source:

Women at the Water’s Edge: Lives of Women in a Climate-changed Sundarbans

The film is based on ongoing research on the effects of climate change on women living in the villages of the Sundarbans in the Bay of Bengal. Source:


Don’t wait to be swept away

“The hurricane showed no mercy to the children of the sea, lamented a fisherman in the aftermath of Hurricane Thuth.

It was Saturday, 29 May 1999. “2A or “Hurricane Thuth travelled at the speed of an Avro aeroplane and hit the coastal border villages of India and Pakistan. About 300 people on the Indian side and around 500 on the Pakistan side perished. Thousands were rendered homeless. Almost all those who died on the Indian side, in the State of Gujarat, were fishermen. After this devastating incident, we at ICSF received a letter from a Gujarat fisherman asking why we do not carry any articles on aspects of safety of life at sea. His query made us sit up and think. SAMUDRA Report has, in fact, carried only a couple of articles on safety at sea, an issue vital to the lives of fishworkers. This issue of SAMUDRA Report is our answer to the Gujarat fisherman’s query.

In developed countries, in particular, modern fishing boats in the small-scale sector are taking on the features of larger ones, including heavy engines and deck machinery that make then sinkable as soon as they capsize or when they take in large amounts of water. In developing countries, introduction of modern technology has upset the traditional way of doing things. The introduction of outboard motors in the artisanal sector, for example, has led to the abandonment of sails and neglect of sailing. A lack of appreciation of the limits of modern technology; a tendency to take needless risks; insufficient training in operating engines, navigation, electronic aids and safety equipment; first aid and emergency behaviour all contribute to worsening safety standards in small-scale fisheries, even when no cyclones strike, as Ben-Yami points out.

There is need for internationally agreed rules for safety equipment and construction of small fishing vessels, and for the training and certification of their skippers and crew. There has to be a concerted move to enact legislation to minimize the risks and dangers in small-scale fisheries.

Fishworker organizations have to impress on their members the importance of taking safety aspects very seriously. Compared to developed countries, in developing countries human life may not appear to have any great value, but that is no reason to be complacent about safety matters and to get into action only when calamity strikes the coastal populations. Developing countries have to move from the syndrome of responding to catastrophes to one of putting a foolproof system in place.

from Comment in SAMUDRA Report No.23, September 1999



TIPC General Meeting

12–16 March 2018, Cape Town, South Africa

FAO Trade in Fisheries Services

20–22 March 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden


Regional Technical Seminar ProspectusJoining forces: The fisheries sector and promoting safety, decent work and the fight against IUU fishing

22–23 March 2018, Manila, Philippines

The Thirty-fourth Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific

9–13 April 2018, Nadi, Fiji



Too Big To IgnoreGlobal Partnership for Small Scale Fisheries Research

A global research network and knowledge mobilization partnership on addressing issues affecting viability and sustainability of small-scale fisheries.


Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE)

An umbrella organization run by fishers for fishers to provide a clear and coherent voice at the EU level for the previously mainly silent majority of European fishers, who are smaller-scale and who use low-impact fishing gears and methods, but have historically lacked dedicated and effective representation in Brussels and at the Member State level.


Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust

The Trust’s mission is to strengthen Alaskan fishing communities and marine resources through scientific research, education and economic opportunity. It aims to educate, activate and inspire consumers, while engaging community-based fishermen in programmes that promote healthy fisheries.