New laws in Canada for habitat protection, indigenous participation

A bill currently before the Canadian senate being heralded by environmental and Indigenous rights groups doesn’t go far enough, according to the organization that represents commercial fish harvesters in Labrador.

Bill C68 seeks to amend the Fisheries Act and other laws to increase protection of fish and fish habitats. If passed, it will, among other things, also explicitly require the minister to take into consideration the protection of Indigenous rights prior to making any decisions on fisheries law and incorporate traditional Indigenous knowledge into the decision-making process…


A vanishing way of life

plenty of studies have shown how mainstream conservation aims to protect ‘biodiversity hotspots’ but undermines the knowledge and culture of the people, often the poor and marginalized, who inhabit such hotspots. Indigenous fishing communities of Nepal provide just one example…

The Sonaha are a minority fishing community spread across Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur districts. Their total population is just over 1,200. Most of them live in villages along the Geruwa River, a branch of the Karnali that marks the western boundary of Bardiya National Park, the largest protected area in the Tarai.



Mwambao Coastal Community Network

Tanzania’s long Indian Ocean coastline, and the offshore islands of Zanzibar (Unguja) and Pemba, are home to rich marine ecosystems. The fish and other aquatic resources of the coastline also support the livelihoods of millions of Tanzanians and are critical to local and regional food security, besides sustaining the tourism industry. Although fisheries in the region is largely small-scale – using canoes, basket traps, handlines and longlines – in recent years, the demand for high-value species like octopus, squid, marlin and kingfish, and the arrival of outboard motors has led to an unsustainable exploitation of fish stocks. Moreover, destructive practices like the use of dynamite have been so prevalent that local fishers said they would hear between 20 and 50 blasts a day in many locations

The Mwambao Coastal Community Network helps Tanzanian communities to strengthen local fisheries-management systems and conservation practices for the marine resources. This includes developing village-level management committees; establishing temporary and permanent closures or fishing ban periods and other regulations to better manage high-value species such as octopus; and improving collaborative management with the government, particularly in marine protected areas (MPAs).

Mwambao is based in Zanzibar and supports a growing network of coastal communities that can learn from one another through peer-to-peer exchange, and work together on shared interests such as fisheries policy and legal reform. Supported by partnerships with Fauna and Flora International, Blue Ventures, the Indian Ocean Commission and other international organizations, Mwambao is quickly developing into a leading grassroots institution in fisheries management and marine conservation in Tanzania.

As a starting point, Mwambao has successfully developed a local model for fisheries management using tempo¬rary octopi closures or seasonal bans, where communities agree to ‘close’ their fishery for a three-month period. This allows octopi stocks to recover, to grow rapidly and to reach the size necessary for breeding, resulting in a significantly larger harvest when fishing resumes. Many villages go on to repeat this regime every three months, with only two or three days when the area is ‘open’. After starting with a pilot project in 2015, these closure areas have rapidly expanded to villages on Pemba and Unguja, which adopted the model in order to improve local management.

Capitalizing on the success of these octopi closures, villages are encouraged to introduce more ambitious management measures. For example, in Kukuu village on Pemba Island, Mwambao has supported the community in establishing a permanent ‘no-take zone’ within a larger temporary fishing closure area. The management of this area is regulated through Kukuu’s own local plan, the first to be devel¬oped by a community in all of Zanzibar. Kukuu’s model has set a strong example that can be emulated across Zanzibar and Tanzania.

Kukuu is also a part of the 1000-sq km Pemba Channel Conservation Area (PECCA), where Mwambao is working to improve local fisheries-management institutions and collaboration with the government. This expansive MPA is home to several important marine species, in addition to mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs. Nine thousand local fishers also depend on the area for their livelihood. A four-year project funded by the Government of United Kingdom’s Darwin Initiative, provides a critical opportunity for Mwambao, the lead implementation agency, to scale up the impact of its work.

Tanzania is one of the very few African countries where dynamite fishing is commonly practiced. Mwambao has been working with two leading non-governmental organizations, using local networks, to address this incredibly destruc¬tive practice. The past two years have seen significant progress in combating this threat, as demonstrated by new information collected by Mwambo.

Mwambao has played a key role in introducing the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) in Tanzania’s marine fisheries, working on the national team for the implementation, and facilitating an initial workshop in 2015. Communication and collaboration is not easy, given Tanzania’s 1,424-km-long coastline and large population engaged in fisheries. Mwambao is exploring how best to support fishing communities, through existing and new activities for the progressive implementation of the SSF Guidelines in Tanzania.

– by Lorna Slade, Executive Director and Ali Thani, Country Co-ordinator, of the Mwambao Coastal Community Network (


Estimate of global fishing fleet size and distribution

The total number of fishing vessels in the world in 2016 was estimated to be about 4.6 million, unchanged from 2014. The fleet in Asia was the largest, consisting of 3.5 million vessels, accounting for 75 percent of the global fleet. In Africa and North America the estimated number of vessels declined from 2014 by just over 30 000 and by nearly 5 000, respectively. For Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Oceania the numbers all increased, largely as a result of improvements in estimation procedures.

Globally, the number of engine-powered vessels was estimated to be 2.8 million in 2016, remaining steady from 2014. Motorized vessels represented 61 percent of all fishing vessels in 2016, down from 64 percent in 2014, as the number of non-motorized vessels increased, probably because of improved estimations. Generally, motorized vessels make up a much higher proportion in marine operating vessels than in the inland water fleet. However, data reporting was not of sufficient quality to disaggregate marine and inland water fleets.

The motorized fleet is distributed unevenly around the world, with Asia having nearly 80 percent of the reported motorized fleet in 2016 (2.2 million vessels), followed by Africa with about 153 000 powered vessels. In Europe, the fleet capacity has continued to decline steadily since 2000 as a result of management measures to reduce the fleet capacity. This region has the highest percentage of motorized vessels in the overall fleet.

The largest absolute number of unpowered vessels was in Asia, with over 1.2 million in 2016, followed by Africa (just under 500 000 non-motorized boats), Latin America and the Caribbean, Oceania, North America and Europe in descending order. These undecked vessels were mostly in the length overall (LOA) class of less than 12 m and included the smallest boats used for fishing.

Size distribution of vessels and the importance of small boats

In 2016, about 86 percent of the motorized fishing vessels in the world were in the LOA class of less than 12 m, the vast majority of which were undecked, and those small vessels dominated in all regions. Asia had the largest absolute number of motorized vessels under 12 m, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean. Only about 2 percent of all motorized fishing vessels were 24 m and larger (roughly more than 100 gross tonnage [GT]), and the proportion of these large boats was highest in Oceania, Europe and North America. Worldwide, FAO estimated about 44 600 fishing vessels with LOA of at least 24 m for 2016.

Despite the global prevalence of small vessels, estimations of their numbers are likely to be less accurate, as they are often not subject to registration requirements as larger vessels are, and even when registered they may not be reported in national statistics. The lack of information and reporting is particularly acute for inland water fleets, which are often entirely omitted from national or local registries.

Usually the non-motorized vessels are a minor component of the total national fleet; exceptions include Benin, where they constituted the large majority, and Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, where they represented up to 50 percent of the total. In the selected countries in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and Oceania, the great majority of the vessels were motorized. Information on vessels is essential for effective performance-based fisheries governance. It is therefore a serious concern that data on vessels are often most lacking for small-scale fisheries, which are typically a key source of livelihoods and nutrition for coastal communities.

– from The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2018. FAO.


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


The Fishermen and the Sea: The Odyssey of Senegalese Fishermen from Lorient to Joal-Fadiouth

Fishermen throughout time have crossed the sea in search of more bountiful waters. They set sail from Brittany, Norway, the Basque country, Galicia, and now, Senegal… Those featured in this book hail from the small sliver of coast that stretches from the Senegalese capital of Dakar to the coastal town of Joal-Fadiouth.

Salas, Silvia, Barragan-Paladines, Maria Jose, Chuenpagdee, Ratana (Eds.). Viability and Sustainability of Small-Scale Fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Springer. 2018

Case studies in this work offer lessons learned in terms of vulnerability concerns, market dynamics, social capital, and institutional and legal frameworks of small-scale fisheries, which is a priority for many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a useful contribution to the implementation of the SSF Guidelines in the region.

What gender mainstreaming in agriculture means in practice: Cases from selected countries of the European Union. FAO. 2018. 112p.

This publication focuses on case studies from five member countries of the European Union. These illustrate how gender equality issues can be addressed in agriculture and rural development policies (including fisheries and aquaculture, forestry and livestock), programmes and practices.

What does the fisherman want?: Report on the survey among fishers around Lake Nokoué and Porto-Novo Lagoon in Benin by Ben Sonneveld et al.

This study analyzes a survey of 839 fishermen active in Lake Nokoué and the Porto-Novo Lagoon in Benin. The survey focuses on the regulations among fishermen of sharing the common water resources, and evaluates whether these customary rules can cope with new challenges.


Ghana: A Fishing Nation in Crisis

A new film has been released on the crisis in Ghana’s fisheries and the illegal practice of ‘saiko’ – where industrial trawlers sell fish to local canoes at sea. This is driving the collapse of Ghana’s inshore fishery, on which millions of Ghanaians rely for food security and income.


Now Walk the Talk

The tenth of June ought to be celebrated as “World Small-scale Fisheries Day since it was on this historic day in 2014 that the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) formally endorsed the International Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). In adopting the Guidelines, COFI also honoured Chandrika Sharma, former Executive Secretary of ICSF, for her invaluable contributions to small-scale fisheries.

By adopting these Guidelines, the international community has lent its weight to the struggles of fishers, fishworkers and their communities in the small-scale sector, as well as to indigenous peoples worldwide to defend their right to secure life and livelihood from fisheries-related activities, both marine and inland. The adoption of the Guidelines marks an expression of support to a politically and economically marginalized people, beleaguered by, among other things, pollution, displacement, conflicts over space and resources and climate-change impacts, and poor access to education, health and housing facilities.

The Guidelines represent the first formal attempt to talk in the same breath about equitable development of fishing communities and sustainable small-scale fisheries. They recognize small-scale fishing communities as a subsector that demands multisectoral and multistakeholder solutions. The Guidelines are couched in the language of a ‘rights-based approach’, where human rights take priority over property rights. Developed in an inclusive, ground-up and participatory manner, the Guidelines weave together international human-rights standards and soft and hard legal instruments that deal with fisheries, labour, women and gender, land, food, nutrition, ecosystem, trade and climate change. They deal substantially with most of the concerns of small-scale, rural and indigenous communities worldwide, as articulated through a raft of workshops of civil society organizations (CSOs), held in Africa, Asia, Central and Latin America since 2011, in preparation for the FAO technical consultations in May 2013 and February 2014.

The Guidelines will now have to move into the implementation mode. In this context, firstly, they should be made relevant for all vulnerable and marginalized groups who depend on small-scale fisheries.

– from SAMUDRA Report No.68, August 2014



Tenure and User Rights in Fisheries 2018: Achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, Yeosu, Republic of Korea, 10-14 September 2018

The 3rd World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress (3WSFC), Chiang Mai, Thailand, 22-26 October 2018

GAF7 – the 7th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries, Bangkok, Thailand, 18-20 October 2018


Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA)

Founded in 1978, ALFA has successfully represented longline fishermen in securing sustainable access to healthy halibut, sablefish and rockfish stocks. ALFA supported an aggressive rebuilding schedule for depleted sablefish stocks during the 1980s, and led the battle to eliminate trawling from southeast Alaska waters during the 1990s. ALFA also supported the implementation of an individual quota system for North Pacific halibut and sablefish stocks, successfully campaigning for measures to protect the independent, community-based fleet critical to the economic health of Alaska’s coastal communities.

The Women’s Industry Network (WIN)

The Women’s Industry Network (WIN) was formed in 1996 by a group of women fishing in south Australia. In 1998 the Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community (WINSC) developed into a national body with organizations in each state. WINSC is the only national organization in Australia that represents women in the seafood industry.