3WSFC – Highlights from the Action Day, Oct 26

In order to facilitate interaction, information sharing, cross-fertilization of ideas and networking opportunities for congress participants, the congress followed a dynamic format with activities organized around the themes of science, community, policy and action.  'Action Day', the final day of the congress, involved five regional roundtable discussions that centered around these key questions:

1) What is the major knowledge gap in small-scale fisheries?
2) What are the major challenges facing small scale-fisheries?
3) What kind of change in science, community, markets and policy is required to improve viability of small-scale fishing communities, reduce their vulnerability and to promote small scale-fisheries sustainability?
4) What actions are required from civil society organizations, research community and policy people in order to implement the SSF Guidelines?
5) How to strengthen the policy-science interface?

The roundtable discussions were followed by plenary discussions about research plans, community actions and policy directions. The congress concluded with a plenary discussion on key messages and recommendations. The highlights from these discussions are presented below. 


I Regional roundtables:
  Asia & Oceania, Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America & the Caribbean


1) Asia and Oceania Small-­Scale Fisheries

"The Asia and Oceania region encompasses the world’s major fish producing countries with small-scale fisheries generating over a half of the global small-scale fisheries production. It is estimated that the 90 percent of the region’s small-scale fisheries landings are retained locally for human food consumption, indicating an important role for food security and poverty alleviation. In all reality, the actual importance of small-scale fisheries for the Asia and Oceania region is even greater, when we take into account that these numbers are likely underestimates."

The regional roundtable was opened with a quick overview of the TBTI Regional Synthesis Report on Asia and Oceania Small-Scale Fisheries. To read the full report as well as the summary from the regional roundtable, CLICK HERE.  


2) African Small-­Scale Fisheries

"Small-scale fisheries in Africa are important for the food security of more than 200 million people, and for the employment of around 2.3 million fishers targeting fisheries in the various marine, brackish and freshwater environments. As one of the world’s richest regions in terms of biodiversity and species exploited for livelihood and subsistence purposes, Africa has a long history of catching, trade and consumption of fish with fishing practices and know-how transferred from one generation to another."


The regional roundtable was opened with a quick overview of the TBTI Regional Synthesis Report on African Small-Scale Fisheries. To read the full report as well as the summary from the regional roundtable, CLICK HERE.  



3) European Small-­Scale Fisheries

"Although representing only 8 percent of the global small-scale fisheries catch, small-scale fisheries in Europe are of vital importance, particularly in terms of social and cultural heritage. For centuries, not only has fishing been a main source of food and income but it also represents a way of life for people living along the coastline. Traditional knowledge, fishing practices, and rituals are inseparable elements of small-scale fisheries. A long history of catching, trade and consumption of fish has molded a rich heritage that oftentimes transcends national borders and connects distant communities."

The regional roundtable was opened with a quick overview of the TBTI Regional Synthesis Report on European Small-Scale Fisheries. To read the full report as well as the summary from the regional roundtable, CLICK HERE.  


4) North American Small-Scale Fisheries

"Small-scale fisheries in North America makeup a small percent of global small-scale fisheries but have great social and economic benefits to the areas in which they are  located, as well as contributing to regional identities. The waters off of North America are highly productive, particularly in the Northwest Atlantic and Northeast Pacific. North American small-scale fisheries are not easily defined, with vessels and methods ranging greatly. Small-scale in North America can compose commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishing, although there is great heterogeneity in the fishers that compose these groups."


The regional roundtable was opened with a quick overview of the TBTI Regional Synthesis Report on North American Small-Scale Fisheries. To read the full report as well as the summary from the regional roundtable, CLICK HERE.  


5) Latin America and the Caribbean Small-­Scale Fisheries

"Small-scale fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean support livelihoods, employment and food security of more than 2.3 million people in marine, brackish, and freshwater environments. Small-scale fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean are characterized as multi-gear and multi-species, accounting for about 16% of the global small-scale fisheries catches, and almost 20% of the total landed value. Compared to the global average, small-scale fisheries in this region receives a relatively high proportion of beneficial subsidies."


The regional roundtable was opened with a quick overview of the TBTI Regional Synthesis Report on Latin America and the Caribbean Small-Scale Fisheries. To read the full report as well as the summary from the regional roundtable, CLICK HERE.  


II Ways forward - What would you like to see by 2022 and beyond and how to get there?

In the last congress session, participants joined action circles focusing on key topics that emerged during the congress, to further discuss and propose some concrete ideas about the ways forward, thinking in particular about what they like to see by 2022 – the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, and how to get there. The following summarizes the discussion in the action circles, as reported in the plenary, which offers an important starting point to build a strategic science-policy-community platform for small-scale fisheries. TBTI will continue to facilitate conversation and discussion about these action items, promote transdisciplinarity capacity building of multi-stakeholder groups, networks and governments at local, national and regional levels, especially for the implementation of the SSF Guidelines and the SDGs, and coordinate research activities and produce communication strategies to keep the SSF momentum going, particularly focusing around concepts like Blue Justice and the Meaning of Small. Stay tuned for calls to actions and get ready to contribute!


Action circle # 1:
The Meaning of Small --- definitions, conceptualization, language etc.

Facilitators: Svein Jentoft and Annie Lalancette 

How can we talk about small-scale fisheries in a way that ensures fishers and communities can recognize themselves? How do we change the existing language and vocabulary at a global level so that it reflects the local realities? 

  1. This is an issue of power: the words that we use will impact what is done, what we think can be done, and whether decisions will be taken to strengthen or replace fishing communities. There are inherent problems with defining inherent concepts: what is small-scale fisheries is relative and dynamic.
  2. Several aspects should be considered in these definitions: a) should we go broader than just fisheries; b) should we start looking more at communities so we encompass the gender dimension; and c) we need definition that will capture the diversity of small-scale fisheries.
  3. How we talk about small-scale fisheries needs to be critical about what threatens those communities, namely neoliberalism and capitalism, and these discourse need to contextualize with other discourses that are happening.
  4. Our language has also a moral dimension, small has a connotation of diminutive so maybe we should use another word than small.
  5. In terms of action: think of vocabulary and language but also challenge the language that is already being used by all actors. This includes how we define ourselves as scientists: do we still want to have the connotation of the advocates for social justice that can be sometimes seen as bad.
  6. Look at what is happening in the field of indigenous peoples rights as inspirations for changing discourses happening in small-scale fisheries.


Action circle # 2
The Fishers' Voices

Facilitators: Alifereti Tawake and Marc Fruitema

This statement represents the group of participants from the following countries: Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Fiji, Finland, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, and South Africa.  

Small-scale fishers are at the interface of knowledge and action: our commitment is to go and mobilize

  1. The World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress should acknowledge that fishers’ future and survival depends on sustainability of small-scale fisheries so any research and dialogue must intentionally involve leaders of fishing organizations and fishers themselves.
  2. Fishers alert the world of impact of climate change on small-scale fisheries. We recognize and stress the urgency of global climate change on all small-scale fisheries.
  3. Governments need to recognize community’s rights to their fishing areas; the SSF Guidelines are a useful tool for this but they must be accessible in different media and languages beyond the five UN working languages.
  4. The congress should allow a separate space for fisher dialogue with specific fisher-to-fisher dialogues where the agenda comes from fishers and there is translation capacity to bridge languages. Funding should be identified and make available to facilitate this.
  5. We want direct representation in discussions and panels in the plenary.
  6. Materials should be available during the coffee breaks from fishers sharing the info about their area, their knowledge and resource.
  7. We need to be visible, we need to be heard and leaders of fishers must have the opportunity to speak and present and translation should be available to facilitate this.
  8. Academics and the scientific community must value and recognize the traditional knowledge of small-scale fishers and ensure that the results of their research are presented back in a timely manner to communities so that it can contribute to the social and environmental development.
  9. Small-scale fisheries must be recognized as including inland fisheries, artisanal, indigenous, subsistence, as well as commercial small-scale fisheries.


Action circle # 3
Rights/access --- what to do to secure small-scale fisheries rights, prevent privatization and ocean grabbing? Let's talk 'Blue Justice'

Facilitator: Paul Onyango

  1. In order to ensure Blue Justice, we need to introduce education on access rights of small-scale fisheries at all levels of school so that it doesn’t become only an issue of a sector but an issue of the whole society. Steer the focus on rights, which is something that CSOs are good at doing. Monitor that those who are supposed to ensure the rights are actually doing so. Finally, fishers should be organized to have a stronger voice.
  2. Prioritize access rights to ensure these rights stay protected within the constitution
  3. Don’t talk about the access rights just among ourselves; instead, bring the discussion of small-scale fisheries rights to the human rights officials and let them recognize that these rights are part of the broader human rights. Also, we need to bring politicians onboard as they are the one responsible for protecting the rights of small-scale fishers.
  4. How do we raise resource in order to ensure human rights are protected? By: a) building relationship with conservation groups (they should protect the communities that are in the area that they are conserving, not only conserve the protected area); b) building relationships with consumers (e.g. restaurants) and let them get engaged in protecting the rights of small-scale fisheries; and c) working with financial institutions


Action circle # 4
How to enhance value-chain to support small-scale fisheries? 

Facilitators: Jose Pascual and Derek Johnson

The premise: Value-chains have to satisfy multiple different values, not just economic value but also social, ecological, cultural values. Plus, we need to think of value-chains in an interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary ways.

What do we need in order to enhance value-chain to support small-scale fisheries?

  1. Vast diversity of experience and practice in terms of engaging with the economies, there is a lot of opportunities for learning. We need to foster platforms for sharing knowledge between small-scale fisheries, producers and traders
  2. Interventions into small-scale fisheries value chains have to be context specific
  3. Research is a necessary part of action and it has to be built intelligently into interventions in value-chains. In addition, the research has to be done in a transdisciplinary way, in collaboration with fishers and economists, social scientists, and governmental representatives
  4. Fishers do not know everything about markets - there are significant knowledge gaps in their understanding of markets, which is why the people who collaborate with them in trying to enhance the value chain should strengthen their knowledge base and provide access to other types of knowledge
  5. Need mechanisms to better inform consumers about sustainable, socially just value chains, producers and processors
  6. Strengthen organizations in different segments of value-chains, whether of producers, processors or traders
  7. Recognize that middle-man often play an important role and provide information that producers often don’t have; they often facilitate the operation of value-chain
  8. Foster the capacity of small-scale fisheries in value-chain to adapt to changing context (climate, markets, and others)
  9. Crucial to value-chain are gender and market distinctions. Gender must be integrated throughout the whole process of designing and implementing interventions


Action circle # 5 
Governance transformation - How to do better at SSF Governance, also for the implementation of the SSF Guidelines and the SDGs?

 Facilitators: Milena Arias Schreiber and Alicia Said

  1. In Africa: review the ongoing governance transformations imposed by the World Bank through the PRAO project
  2. Values of small-scale fisheries need to be reflected in policies
  3. Implementation of the SSF Guidelines based on social license to operate. Building trust with local communities is imperative.
  4. Have a clear example of how the SSF Guidelines have been implemented
  5. Use the SSF Guidelines as a boundary object to create international collaboration for transboundary problems
  6. Governance to be based on more data and synthesis of social science research
  7. SDGs to support the implementation of the SSF Guidelines
  8. Measure endorsement of the SSF Guidelines and create mechanisms for governance accountability
  9. More opportunities to sit down with the decision-makers, made the to listen, but bottom up
  10. Scientists should stop naively believing that they will change governance with science. Science communicators can help fill the gap between science and policy.
  11. More transparency in governments
  12. Stronger, innovative partnership with news and social media, NGOs, and CSOs
  13. Fishers should capitalize on their strength and come together, speaking in one voice
  14. More studies on collective action
  15. Monitor leadership, maybe create corruption index to understand legitimacy and equity issues
  16. Make governments accountable for erroneous decision making
  17. Tap into various windows of opportunity to influence policy at all levels


Action circle # 6
How to integrate knowledge and foster communications and sharing?

Facilitator: Maria Jose Espinosa Romero 

  1. Identify the learning circles and platforms that are out there and start connecting
  2. In addition to regional and global platforms, as well as learning circles, we need to create spaces at the national level that are conducive to learning. Governments might not necessarily be open to sharing power but there might be individual within it who are willing to do so
  3. In terms of learning circles, we need to anticipate that this is about trust building, power-sharing and institution building so in order to make the circles effective we cannot avoid going from community to community and working around specific problems and specific solution in order for people to see the benefits of the SSF Guidelines
  4. Women have a key role in the implementation of the SSF Guidelines. Plus, we need to incorporate human rights dimensions – this is a key factor for learning groups
  5. Need to work at multiple levels if we want to get communities engaged, empowered and get the governments onboard  


Action circle # 7
 Long-term interventions --- funding and mechanisms to keep it going!

Facilitators: Chris Giordano and Ahmed Khan 

  1. Recognize that wealth is a representation of power
  2. Determine where wealth is currently located and shift it to where is needed
  3. Engage the communities from the beginning of whatever interventions we use, applying context-specificity and from there help and engage community in local projects with those communities exuding their power through the wealth of the project they want to support
  4. Moving from community level further up: there is a requirement for different funding mechanisms at the regional and national level and these could be trust funds to taxes on foreigners that are put back on the communities.


Action circle # 8
Fishery Science and the Design of Harvest Strategies in Latin-America 

Facilitator: Carlos Alvarez

What would we like to see by 2022 and beyond and how to get there? 

The purpose of this proposal is to produce a set of guidelines to assist in the assessment of the status of small-scale fisheries in situations of data limitation and to be able to design harvest strategies that satisfy previously set management goals. 

A foundation for this approach is the fact that the viability of the resource is indispensable to have prosper, vibrant fishing communities. 

The approach would be to create a working group of experts from Latin-American to produce the guidelines based on assorted methods that are appropriate for the characteristics of data poor small-scale fisheries. An important goal of the group is to produce information to develop management policies, based on adaptive and innovative co-management perspectives. 

The first step is to identify this group of experts that can offer analytical approaches and to convene in the near/mid-term. The group shall review what methods and approaches are already available and the scope of possibilities and limitations. Methods and approaches can be quantitative, semi-quantitative and qualitative; they can be single species, mixed species or ecosystem based, and have different levels of complexity. 

The group would understand the concept of “harvest strategy” as a set of actions that include: 

  • The definition of management goals and management units.
  • The assessment of the status of stocks and the performance of the fishery based on suitable approaches and methods.
  • The collection of data to satisfy the requirements of the assessment approach assuring the participation of fishers and the inclusion of their knowledge. Consider the use of databases already available to determine assessment approaches.
  • The definition of reference points to make decisions about the status of the stock.
  • The construction and use of procedures to facilitate decision making which can include control rules or other feasible mechanisms.
  • Discuss feedback mechanism and the evolution of the systems.

The group will also search for ways to effectively communicate in simple language the results to managers, fishers and other stakeholders. We expect that the group would produce a report of this process by 2022.