Economic Viability

Small-scale fisheries (SSF) face many threats and challenges, including climate change, globalization, competition from industrial fisheries, and rapid market shifts. To withstand these threats, fishers need tools and information to help them prepare and adapt. To achieve this, it is essential to assess SSF, important part of which is to understand and explore the economic viability of SSF. Economic viability, in general, is used to describe financial performance or ecological-economic viability of fisheries. In the context of this project, economic viability is defined more comprehensively as the net economic benefits or contribution from SSF to society. The aim of this cluster is to explore and analyze the economic SSF data in order to improve economic viability of SSF and thus help SSF withstand and adapt to the many threats they face.

For information on participation, see the “How to contribute” section below. 


The aims of this research cluster are to:

1. identify factors affecting economic viability of SSF in as many places around the world as possible;

2. compare and contrast the mechanisms used by fishers to improve their economic viability; and

3. make appropriate policy recommendations in accordance with these findings.

Research questions

To achieve these aims we have conducted an in-depth review of the literature, completed brainstorming sessions at TBTI workshops, consulted with various expert groups, and identified fourteen attributes considered to be important to economic viability. Attributes were selected based on their relevance, measurability and objectivity. A report from one of these workshops held in Bagamoyo Tanzania in April 2014 is available online. At the workshop, research from different African case-studies related to economic viability, was presented. A framework was then developed to guide economic viability assessments at both a country and case-study level.

Economic viability comparative assessment

An important step to better understand the economic viability of small-scale fisheries (SSF) and how it can be assessed is to directly compare certain attributes with large-scale fisheries (LSF). We are currently conducting a comparative assessment that is necessary given the difficulty in gathering suitable data in many SSF, especially quantitative information on basic economic indicators.This information, once collected and formatted into a database, will serve as a cornerstone for understanding the economics and benefits to society from SSF from all over the world.

To find out more about the assessment and to contribute your data, download the Economic-Viability-Assessment template. The completed template should be sent to to as an attachment. Submission deadline is January 31, 2016.


The main deliverables from this cluster will be a database of economic viability case studies based on the fourteen questions above, which will then be used to feedback information to fishers, policy makers, and managers. We are also planning to publish a book or a special volume in a journal about the economic viability of SSF, where each case-study would form one chapter or contribution. The database will be part of the larger TBTI Information System on Small-scale Fisheries (ISSF). The database will be published online and will also serve as a cornerstone for understanding the economics and benefits from SSF to society on a global scale.

We will share the analysis of the database with fishers and policy makers and managers, with the aim of improving the economic viability of SSF, and help fisheries to prepare for and withstand the threats they face.

To populate this database we require your contributions from your own work and case studies. It may not always be possible to find answers to all fourteen questions outlined here, but the more data and case studies we have the more useful the results will become. We therefore encourage everybody who works or has worked with a small-scale fishery to contribute to the economic viability assessment of SSF. Your contributions will help us understand, on a global scale, which attributes are the most important. This assessment will also allow us to identify knowledge gaps so that we have a better idea about  where more research is needed in the future Your contribution will be one of many pieces, which will together elevate the profile of  SSF globally and help reduce their marginalization.

We are happy to receive any feedback about the attribute list and the framework. Your feedback will not only help us improve our research but also increase the impact of our study.

Timeline / Work plan

We call on all individuals or institutions, including universities, research institutes and community-based organizations interested in contributing to this exciting thematic cluster by actively participating in the generation of these outcomes. Since TBTI can only provide seed funding to support basic activities in the cluster, it is important to stress that each member draws from ongoing or recently concluded work and/or partners with others to leverage resources. It is, nevertheless, envisioned that this cluster’s work will, at least initially, rely on a concise appraisal of the many relevant cases around the world, which is appropriate for producing a large-scale synopsis and reducing needs for significant research funding.

Complimentary readings, templates and other relevant information will be posted on this website as the cluster activity shapes up.

If you would like to get involved in the cluster, please contact us at

Additional Reading Material

Schuhbauer, A. and Sumaila, U. R. (2016). Economic viability and small-scale fisheries — A reviewEcological Economics 124, 69–75. Doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.01.018

How to contribute

1. Complete the Economic viability comparative assessment. For more details, see the Research Questions section above.

2. Submit an in-depth case study. For more details, see the Economic Viability framework.

3. SSF profiles 

One of the main commitments of TBTI is to make information about SSF comprehensive and available to everyone. The SSF profile in ISSF is developed with this in mind. Currently, ISSF is running the  SSF profiles drive to complete the first 200 profiles. We would like to encourage all cluster members to help with this task by completing the fillable form and email it to We don’t expect that you will have all the required information so please consult colleagues or literature as necessary.

Cluster coordinators

Rashid Sumaila, University of British Columbia, Canada

Anna Schuhbauer, University of British Columbia, Canada

Jyothis Sathyapalan, Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), India

Ratana Chuenpagdee, Memorial University, Canada

Cluster members
Name Affiliation Country
A. Alencastro, Liliana ESPOL Ecuador
A., Jose Plymouth Marine Laboratory UK
Abura, Samson Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization Uganda
Adeleke, Mosunmola Lydia The Fedral University of Technology Nigeria
Advani, Sahir University of British Columbia India
Akintola, Shehu Lagos State University Nigeria
Alam, Md Mahbub Marine Fisheries Academy, Ministry of Fisheries & Livestock Bangladesh
Audu, Emmanuel Lagos State University Nigeria
Balaraman, Subramanian Our Sea Our People India
Bannwart, Janaina Fishery coordinator of Epagri Brazil
Barclay, Kate University of Technology Sydney Australia
Barter, Lachlan University Center for the Westfjords Iceland
Bassett, Hannah Univesity of Washington USA
Baumgartner, Timothy Centro de Investigacion Cientifica y de Educacion Superior de Ensenada Mexico
Bennett, Abigail Duke University USA
Bhatta, Ramachandra College of fisheries, Mangalore India
Bower, Shannon Carleton University Canada
Brehmer, Patrice IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement) France
Brewer, Jennifer University of New Hampshire USA
Buxton, Jordan San Diego Zoo Global USA
Cakacaka, Akuila Institute of Tropical Marine Research Germany
Campbell, Brooke Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security Australia
Carvalho, Julia UFSC Universidade federal de Santa Catarina Brazil
Carvalho da Silva, Maria Helena Unifeso-Centro Universitario da Serra dos Órgãos Brazil
Cavaco, Patricia Sustainability Consultant Portugal
Chong, Carolina University of Bremen Germany
Cronin, Holly McGill University Canada
Dao, Nga York University Canada
De Freitas, Debora Biosciences Institute São Paulo State University-UNESP, Coastal Campus Brazil
De Freitas, Rodrigo Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo Brazil
De Young, Cassandra FAO Italy
Elegbede, Isa Brandenburg University of Technology Germany
Esteves, Pedro Fundação Instituto de Pesca do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Fakoya, Kafayat Lagos State University Nigeria
Ferrer, Alice University of the Philippines Visayas Philippines
Fofandi, Kamlesh Volunteer India
Friedman, Kim FAO Italy
Godjali, Nandana Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI) Foundation Indonesia
Goetting, Kathryn Oregon State University USA
Hammer, Jacob Viking USA
Marinez Gonzalez , Miguel Instituto De Estudios Interacionales, Universidad Del Mar (UMAR) Mexico
Mozumder, Mohammad PhD student Finland
Gaviola, Saúl Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero Argentina
Gaynor, Amanda Rare USA
Gephart, Jessica SESYNC USA
Ginindza, Joseph University of the Western Cape South Africa
Gozzer Wuest, Renato Independent researcher Peru
Gurung, Tek Nepal Agricultural Research Council Nepal
Haque, A.B.M. Mahfuzul Dr. Bangladesh
He, Kevin Oceana US
Headley, Maren Universidad Marista de Merida Mexico
Hisham, Jafer Department of Fisheries India
Hudson, Joanna Blue Ventures UK
Jadhav, Adam Dakshin Foundation India
James, Mark University of St Andrews UK
Jatoi, Qamer Uddin University of Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa Pakistan
Jouanneau, Charlène Charlène Jouanneau Consultant France
Juma, Ali Kenya National Fisherfolk Association Kenya
K. E. Nunoo, Francis University of Ghana Ghana
Kehinde, Adekeye Fisheries Society of Nigeria Nigeria
Khan, Zaidy United Nations Nippon Fellow Grenada
Khattabi, Abdellatif Ecole Nationale Forestière d'Ingénieurs Marocco
Kinds, Arne Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO) Belgium
Kochalski, Sophia University of Liverpool UK
Koralagama, Dilanthi University of Ruhuna Sri Lanka
Kumar, Subodh Central University of Gujarat India
Lam, Mimi University of British Columbia Canada
Lamb, Norlan Conch - Conserving our natural cultural history Belize
Lau, Jacqueline ARC Centre for Excellece in Coral Reef Studies Australia
Lazar, Najih University of Rhode Island USA
Léopold, Marc Institut de Recherche pour le Développement France
Little, Dave Unversity of Stirling UK
Liu, Yajie SINTEF Fiskeri og havbruk Norway
Loneragan, Neil School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University Australia
López, Javier INFOPESCA Uruguay
Lueiro, Xoán Inacio Amoedo Consultant Spain
Maharaj, Ben Institute of Marine Affairs Trinidad and Tobago
Manyungwa-Pasani, Chikondi Department of Fisheries Malawi Malawi
Martinez Tovar, Ivan Ocean Outcomes USA
Marques, Elineide UFT Brazil
Mattos, Sérgio Ministry of Planning Brazil
McClean, Nick University of Technology Sydney Australia
McClenachan, Loren Colby College USA
Mensah, Isaac Cardiff University UK
Mombourquette, Dan Saint Mary's University Canada
Mungoni, Sibonginkosi Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research Zimbabwe
Mvula, Stanley Department of Fisheries Malawi
Napata, Ruby Institute of Fisheries Policy and Development Studies, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of the Philippines Visayas Philippines
Nuno, Ana University of Exeter UK
Ojea, Elena University of Vigo Spain
Olamilekan, Phillips Lagos State University Nigeria
Oliveira, Ticiano Federal University of Alagoas Brazil
Oluwafemi, Fajana Lagos State University Nigeria
Oseni, Ismaila Lagos State University Nigeria
Palmer, Roy Aquaculture without Frontiers Australia
Parker, Kashiefa International Ocean Institute South Africa
Partelow, Stefan Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) Germany
Pecku, Amakwo Lagos State University Nigeria
Pita, Cristina University of Aveiro Portugal
Pomeroy, Carrie University of California Sea Grant USA
Rachmawati, Laksmi Indonesian Institute of Sciences Indonesia
Ragusa, Gianluca International Independent consultant - Fisheries and aquaculture specialist Italy
Raju, Surapa Council for Social Development India
Ramenzoni, Victoria Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University USA
Reghu, Raghu Prakash Central Insitute Of Fisheries Technology India
Revold, Jens UiT-Arctic University of Norway Norway
Richard, Natalie Alaska Pacific University USA
Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Gonzalo University of Santiago de Compostela Spain
Said, Alicia PhD Student, University of Kent UK
Sanguinetti, Tomas Memorial University of Newfoundland Canada
Schneider, Katharina Heidelberg University Germany
Sequeira, Vera MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Center Portugal
Silvestri, Fausto FIPERJ Brazil
Snape, Robin University of Exeter Cyprus
Sobo, Fatma Assistant Director of Fisheries Tanzania
Sule, Fatimah Lagos State University Nigeria
Taiwo, Ganzallo Sylvester Lagos State University Nigeria
Tubino, Rafael Universidade Federal Fluminense Brazil
Ulman, Aylin University of Pavia Italy
Ünal, Vahdet Ege University, Faculty of Fisheries Turkey
Urteaga, Jose E-IPER / Stanford University Nicaragua
Viegas, Maria Instituto Portuges do Mare e da Atmosfera Portugal
Villasante, Sebastian University Santiago de Campostela Spain
Wessels, Peter Dalhousie University Canada
Witter, Allison UBC Fisheries Centre Canada
Young, Samantha San Diego Zoo Global USA