Global Synthesis

One of the major challenges in small-scale fisheries (SSF) governance is the lack of integrated knowledge about the sector. This is due, not only to their sheer number, but also to the fact that they exist in all possible aquatic environments, in rural and urban settings, involving men, women and sometimes children in complex harvest and post-harvest activities. This complex web of interaction makes it difficult to design a proper data collection or reporting systems for SSF, compared to large-scale, industrial fisheries. Consequently, there has been little coordinated effort at regional and global levels to systematically and routinely collect data about SSF. More is now happening at a country level, and within countries, but it is still far from sufficient to illustrate the contribution that SSF make to food security, poverty alleviation and local and regional economic development. This is due, in part, to the nature of research in SSF, which is often localized, and unless broadly disseminated, the knowledge remains fragmented.

The Information System on Small-scale Fisheries (ISSF) that TBTI has been developing is a major step in assembling information about SSF and making it freely and widely available. Parallel to the effort to encourage data contribution from everyone involved in SSF and building more data layers, the next big step for TBTI is to analyze, synthesize and integrate the existing data in ISSF and package the information in ways that are suitable to a range of audiences. This is the main goal of the ‘Global Synthesis’ cluster.


The emphasis of the “Global Synthesis” cluster is in the analysis of ISSF data, supplemented by findings from other research clusters, to improve our understanding of SSF. Through comparative and broad-based synthesis, it aims to provide concrete evidence about the importance of SSF, whether they are indeed ‘too big to ignore’ and ‘too important to fail.’ The starting point for this will be our ability to describe SSF, capturing their diverse nature and characteristics, as well as other key features that distinguish them from large-scale fisheries.

Given that this is the first global attempt to collate quantitative and qualitative information about SSF, certain standardization and simplification are required. We plan to achieve this by using a standard set of ‘Top 20 Questions’ [as downloadable PDF and on ISSF] about SSF as the template to guide data collection. Those 20 questions are the outcome of a synthesis of the literature, followed by a large international consultation process that aimed at capturing key characteristics for SSF. Everyone who has some familiarity and knowledge about small-scale fisheries, in any location and scale, should help complete the template and either send it to or enter it directly into ISSF. We do not expect that anyone will have the required information to answer all the questions at hands, but people are encouraged to document as many aspects as possible. Some basic inquiries with known expert or collaboration with colleagues who may have the answer are encouraged. Note that while all SSF profiles, once created, are publicly available on ISSF website, the contributor(s) of the profiles retain the ‘editing’ right for future revision and update.

Research questions

The ‘Top 20 Questions’ and the overall objectives of the cluster aim at answering core questions about small-scale fisheries. Once answered, these could help elevate their profile and reduce their marginalization. Some of the questions that need answering are:

·  What do small-scale fisheries look like? Do they differ from place to place? If so, how?

·  Who is involved in small-scale fisheries harvest and post-harvest activities and how?

·  What are the contributions of small-scale fisheries to society (in terms of food security, employment, etc.), compared to their large-scale, industrial fisheries counterparts?

·   How dependent are small-scale fishing communities on fishing as a livelihood?

·   What are the main distribution channels of catches from small-scale fisheries?

·   How are small-scale fisheries governed and through what instruments?

·   What are some of the issues, concerns and threats affecting the viability of small-scale fisheries?


We aim to generate several research, policy and community briefs, along with journal articles, to communicate key messages about small-scale fisheries. We will use different methods to disseminate key messages from the analyses, including printed materials and web-based articles. We will encourage TBTI members and other interested parties to help us with the translation of the key messages into languages other than English.

Timeline / Work plan

The “Top 20 Questions” layer is now available on ISSF, meaning that data can be entered directly on ISSF and that the profile will be ‘published’. Our goal is to have 200 profiles, representing all regions of the world and different types of fisheries and ecosystem levels as soon as possible. While data collection will be ongoing, we will begin the syntheses and produce preliminary reports. We will also focus on the production of other publications and dissemination of our findings.

How to contribute

We hope to receive contributions from all TBTI members and anyone interested in contributing knowledge about small-scale fisheries to help create the SSF Profiles, by entering the data directly into ISSF. Please also forward the link and the “Top 20 Questions” to your network as widely as possible. Help us reach the first 200 profiles!

If you would like to learn more about the cluster, please contact us at

Cluster coordinators

Ratana Chuenpagdee, Memorial University, St. John’s

Rodolphe Devillers, Memorial University, Canada

Andrew Frederick Johnson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA

Sérgio Mattos, Ministry of Planning, Brazil

Cluster members
Name Affiliation Country
A., Jose Plymouth Marine Laboratory UK
Abdul, Waidi Federal University of Agriculture Nigeria
Abura, Samson Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization Uganda
Akintola, Shehu Lagos State University Nigeria
Amoroso, Ricardo University of Washigton USA
Anene, Afamdi Abia State University Nigeria
Arthur, Robert MRAG UK
Bannwart, Janaina Fishery coordinator of Epagri Brazil
Bassett, Hannah Univesity of Washington USA
Bazzino, Gaston CIBNOR (Northwest Biological Research Center) Mexico
Beitl, Christine University of Maine USA
Bennett, Abigail Duke University USA
Blythe, Jessica James Cook University Australia
Breckwoldt, Annette Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen Germany
Brehmer, Patrice IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement) France
Cakacaka, Akuila Institute of Tropical Marine Research Germany
Chong, Carolina University of Bremen Bremen
Coswig Kalikoski, Daniela FAO Italy
Cowx, Ian University of Hull International Fisheries Institute UK
Crowder, Larry Center for Ocean Solutions USA
Currimjee, Zara Oceana USA
Da Silva Batista, Vandick Universidade Federal de Alagoas Brazil
Darquea, Jodie Scripps Institution of Oceanography Ecuador
De Freitas, Debora Biosciences Institute São Paulo State University-UNESP, Coastal Campus Brazil
De Silva, Nilantha University of Ruhuna Sri Lanka
Defeo, Omar Faculty of Sciences Uruguay
Duggan, Deirdre Masyarakat dan Perikanan, Indonesia (MDPI) Indonesia
Dutka-Gianelli, Jynessa University of Florida Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences USA
Elegbede, Isa Brandenburg University of Technology Germany
Esteves, Pedro Fundação Instituto de Pesca do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Finkbeiner, Elena Stanford University USA
Floro, Julien Marine Conservationist Portugal
Fofandi, Kamlesh Volunteer India
Franz, Nicole FAO Italy
Freed, Sarah University of Maryland University College USA
Friedman, Kim FAO Italy
Garcia-Quijano, Carlos University of Rhode Island USA
Garside, Ruth University of Exeter Medical School UK
Gaviola, Saúl Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero Argentina
Gephart, Jessica SESYNC USA
Gerhardinger, Leopoldo Sea Memories Collective Brazil
Giron-Nava, Alfredo Scripps Institution of Oceanography USA
Goetting, Kathryn Oregon State University USA
Golden, Christopher Harvard School of Public Health USA
Gurung, Tek Nepal Agricultural Research Council Nepal
Haro, María Isabel The University of Queensland Australia
Harris, Craig Michigan State University USA
Hisham, Jafer Department of Fisheries India
Hudson, Joanna Blue Ventures UK
Humphries, Austin University of Rhode Island USA
Ichien, Stephanie Oregon State University USA
James, Mark University of St Andrews UK
Jiménez Badillo, Ma. de Lourdes Veracruz University Mexico
Johnson, Magnus University of Hull UK
Jouanneau, Charlène Charlène Jouanneau Consultant France
Kappo, Ayorinde NASRDA Nigeria
Kehinde, Adekeye Fisheries society of Nigeria Nigeria
Kim, Onnuri Duke University USA
Kochalski, Sophia University of Liverpool UK
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
Lynch, Abigail U.S. Geological Survey USA
Loneragan, Neil Murdoch University Australia
Lorenzi, Miguel Memorial University of Newfoundland Brazil
Lueiro, Xoán Inacio Amoedo consultant Spain
Manyungwa-Pasani, Chikondi Department of Fisheries Malawi Malawi
Marjadi, Meghna The Ohio State University USA
Marques, Elineide UFT Brazil
McClean, Nick University of Technology Sydney Australia
McClenachan, Loren Colby College USA
McGreavy, Bridie University of Maine USA
Mozumder, Mohammad PhD student Finland
Mphangwe Kosamu, Ishmael Bobby University of Malawi Malawi
Mungoni, Sibonginkosi Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research Zimbabwe
Myers, Bonnie USGS USA
Napata, Ruby Institute of Fisheries Policy and Development Studies, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of the Philippines Visayas Philippines
Narvarte, Maite Andrea CONICET-Escuela Superior de Ciencias Marinas- Universidad Nacional del Comahue Argentina
Nauen, Cornelia Mundus maris - Sciences and Arts for Sustainability Belgium
Neilson, Alison Centre for Social Studies, CES, University of Coimbra Portugal
Nuno, Ana University of Exeter UK
Ourens, Rosana Stanford University USA
Palmer, Roy Aquaculture without Frontiers Australia
Parker, Kashiefa International Ocean Institute - Southern Africa South Africa
Peckham, Hoyt Stanford University USA
Pita, Cristina University of Aveiro Portugal
Potts, Tavis University of Aberdeen UK
Poulos, Helen Wesleyan University USA
Ragusa, Gianluca International Independent consultant - Fisheries and aquaculture specialist Italy
Ramenzoni, Victoria Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University USA
Ramírez, Alejandro Social-ecological systems lab Universidad Católica de Chile Chile
Revold, Jens UiT-Arctic University of Norway Norway
Robinson, Gary Bangor University UK
Rohe, Janne Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) Germany
Romero, Ronnie National Fisheries Research and Development Institute Philippines
Rudd, Murray Emory University USA
Ruperti Loor, Hans Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Spain
Salas, Silvia Cinvestav Merida Mexico
Sall, Aliou Centre de recherches océanographiques de Dakar Thiaroye (CRODT) Senegal
Said, Alicia PhD Student, University of Kent UK
Serrat, Alba Universitat de Girona Spain
Seto, Katherine UC Berkeley USA
Scherrer, Kim University Autònoma de Barcelona Spain
Schmidt, Jörn Kiel University Germany
Schneider, Katharina Heidelberg University Germany
Selgrath, Jennifer University of British Columbia Canada
Simmance, Fiona University of Southampton UK
Smith, Tim University of Sunshine Coast Australia
Snape, Robin University of Exeter Cyprus
Sobo, Fatma Assistant Director of Fisheries Tanzania
Stacey, Natasha Charles Darwin University Australia
Taiwo, Ganzallo Sylvester Lagos State University Nigeria
Travaille, Kendra University of Western Australia Australia
Trouillet, Brice University of Nantes France
Tubino, Rafael Universidade Federal Fluminense Brazil
Tupper, Mark Coastal Resources Association Philippines
Turner, Rachel University of Exeter UK
Ulman, Aylin University of Pavia Italy
Urteaga, Jose E-IPER / Stanford University Nicaragua
Valenzuela, Flordeliza Central Bicol State University of Agriculture Philippines
Vila Nova, Daniele Universidade Federal de Goiás Brazil
Viswanathan, K Kuperan Universiti Utara Malaysia
Willman, Rolf Formerly FAO Germany
Yingst, Alexandra University Centre of the Westfjords Iceland
Zhao, Lily University of Washington USA