3WSFC – Small-­Scale Fisheries in Asia and Oceania


Asia and Oceania Small-­Scale Fisheries

1) TBTI Regional Synthesis Report-Executive Summary 


Marine and inland catches and marine landed value for the five sub-regions in Asia and Oceania. Data is based on the FAO 2016 FishStat and Pauly and Zellar 2015 data.

The benefits of small-scale fisheries in the Asia and Oceania region are indisputable. An estimate shows that in Southeast Asia, coral reef fisheries alone comprise about 3.4 million small-scale fishers. 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. Cumulatively, these generate around 21 billion US dollars, which represents 51 percent of the world’s economic value of small-scale fisheries. 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 above-mentioned attributes of small-scale fisheries in Asia and Oceania are likely to dwindle due to multiple environmental and social issues. The declining fisheries and a lack of policy support for small-scale fisheries create major challenges to this multi-billion industry. Research consistently shows that the productivity of the freshwater and marine ecosystems is at a stake as fishing stocks are being over-exploited due to the increasing demand for seafood supplies in the region.

Other social conditions such as poverty are expected to further increase pressure on small-scale fisheries. The 60 percent of world’s population lives in Asia and Oceania, and by 2050 the global population is predicted to increase to 9.6 billion. Currently, 733 million people in the region live in absolute poverty or live on a less than $1.25 a day, and 537 million are undernourished. About half the world’s poor live in India and China alone. In addition, other countries in the region such as Malaysia, though presently food secure, depend mainly on fish imports. With escalating fishing efforts and deteriorating ecosystems, the future of fisheries production does not look bright.

Actions and commitment are necessary for ensuring the sustainability of small-scale fisheries resources and seafood supply in the region. It is suggested that reducing the fishing capacity could help the small-scale fisheries recover but will incur short term costs that will need to be dealt with at a country and regional levels. Delay in actions will only intensify the present challenges. Responding to the growing demand for food in the region requires working towards sustainable production and delivery of resources in both inland and marine fisheries. For example, to meet the nutritional security of the Pacific Islands, production of fish needs to sustainably increase to 12 percent by 2020 and to 25 percent by 2035.

In line with this, many sectors and institutions, such as investors, trade, government, and fishery bodies would be required to take an active role in devising sustainable approach for small-scale fisheries. Tapping on the region’s large number of regional bodies can present opportunities to discuss and negotiate transboundary issues such as IUU fishing, straddling stocks, and transboundary conflicts and territorial disputes. Besides regional bodies and country level organizations, encouraging the participation of local champions, including fishers at a community level, would help increase actions and commitments for small-scale fisheries sector.

To read the full TBTI Regional Synthesis Report, CLICK HERE. 

Interested in contributing to the synthesis report on the small-scale fisheries of Asia and Oceania?

TBTI regional reports present a global picture of the small-scale fisheries characteristics, challenges, threats and opportunities. The report was developed by TBTI with inputs from academics and experts in Asia and Oceania. With these reports, TBTI aims to put small-scale fisheries on the map and in the right perspective, such that small-scale fisheries sustainability can be improved through policies that maximize their contribution to the regional and national social and economic development. The regional synthesis reports provide an informed baseline for actions through policy changes that can transform the way small-scale fisheries are recognized, managed and governed.

To contribute, download the report and send your comment to toobigtoignore@mun.ca by January 15, 2019. All comments will be taken into consideration during the revision of the draft and consolidation of the final report.

2) Asia and Oceania – Summary from the 3WSFC regional roundtable 


Presented by: Prateep Nayak

What are the major knowledge gaps in small-scale fisheries?

  • Clarity on the meaning of small-scale fisheries in the distinct context of coastal, marine, inland and other types of fisheries
  • Firmly grounded, social science understanding of small-scale fisheries
  • Fishers’ behaviour of small-scale fisheries in the context of cultural context, history, global changes they confront how they respond to change
  • Biological knowledge of small-scale fisheries is clearly missing
  • Ingredients or elements contributing to the success and strengths of fishers’ organizations
  • Learning from knowledge within different types of fisheries (inland, marine, etc.)
  • Building knowledge on multi-species fisheries and moving away from single species fisheries and developing models based on that knowledge
  • Better dissemination of policies available on small-scale fisheries so that fishers are better informed
  • What are the alternative livelihoods available for the fishers is not clear – putting small-scale fisheries in the large economic system to better understand how the changes in other sector influence or shape small-scale fisheries-related livelihood
  • Communication across multiple levels and better messages and communication strategies
  • Mentoring to build capacity within small-scale fisheries
  • Climate change, building adaptive capacity and developing outcome indicators (major knowledge gap)
  • Data gap in small-scale fisheries production, especially data on declining production, nutrition, and migration
  • How production changes impact nutrition requirements at a household level

What are the major challenges facing small-scale fisheries?

  • Market competitiveness: Intersectoral competition (small vs. industrial)
  • How can we add more value to small-scale fisheries’ products – fresh or processed. Market chains are not always effective to convey the real value of small-scale fisheries products.
  • Lack of meaningful dialogue between policy and stakeholders. How do we engage fisher community in a meaningful way so that they feel that their issues and voices are recognized?
  • How to raise visibility of small-scale fisheries? Visibility to whom – politicians?
  • Need to see fisheries from an intersectoral perspective: non-fisheries and conservation activities facing small-scale fisheries are major threats – activities taking place on the coast, urbanization
  • Fisher associations are not well organized at all levels – local to national – strong fisher organizations as part of the SSF Guidelines implementation
  • Separating or combining inland and marine fisheries challenges (inland fishery challenges tend to get neglected)

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?

  • Foster strong fishers’ organization
  • Ensure that high-level government and policy people are engaged
  • Better integration of marine and inland fisheries to amplify the voice of small-scale fisheries
  • Recognition of the distinct aspects of inland fisheries
  • Congested seas and conflict between multiple users – better understanding of conflicts and contestations and way to manage conflicts
  • Improve the code of conduct to do research so that small-scale fisheries can leverage the knowledge generated
  • Developing communication mechanisms – principles, processes and accountability that ensure that data is shared with small-scale fisheries and bridge the disconnect / gap
  • Fisher stakeholder involvement – inland fisheries are faced with multiple threats similar to marine and their voices can be combined
  • Scientists need to directly confront the challenges that undermine the viability of small-scale fisheries
  • Bringing on board other knowledge – transdisciplinarity
  • Building the profile of domestic markets and be aware of the dangers of over-dependence on export market

What actions are required from civil society organizations, research community and policy people in order to implement the SSF Guidelines?

  • The SSF Guidelines as a vehicle to facilitate collaboration and what role each actor can play – who is doing what
  • Public health and community health (human and environment health) inclusion in the small-scale fisheries
  • Do not confine only to fisheries – other sectors, other actors, other issues
  • Contextualize and prioritize on what elements of the SSF Guidelines should be implemented first and where is the urgent need to do so
  • Going beyond fisheries and involving the diversity of supporting actors
  • Developing a score card on how our governments are achieving the goals set out in the SSF Guidelines and how those scores cards are developed and who monitors (need to be careful)

How to strengthen the policy science interface?

  • Science to better capture what it is to be a fisher – think about the life of the fishers and how market is going to influence their lives
  • Recommend solutions or ways forward and not just identify problems
  • Practical application of science as a priority and mandated area – science in everyday lives of the poor
  • Address some of the issues regionally – transboundary fisheries – joint collaboration in collecting data, formulating policy and implementing programs – political boundaries and geopolitical aspects make research difficult
  • Policy also needs to think how they can inform science and vice-versa
  • Role of civil society organizations in furthering Science-Policy interface
  • Advocacy, lobbying etc. as a way to foster collective action around science and policy
  • Identify best practices to respond to climate vulnerability
  • Going beyond the science-policy interface – policy should have input from all concerned

 Key points that emerged:

  • No just CSOs putting pressure but also community-based institutions
  • Mobilize knowledge to better anticipate future vulnerability of small-scale fisheries and better understand the drivers