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 email@example.com 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.
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 in 2017. We will also focus on the production of other publications and dissemination of our findings.
|How to contribute||
1) 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!
2) Contribute to an upcoming e-book ‘Small-Scale Fisheries Profiles’. To be included in this e-book you will need: to have an account on ISSF, create a SSF Profile (completed by at least 70%) and send a short (2-3 sentence) synopsis describing your SSF Profile to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, click here.
If you would like to learn more about the cluster, please contact us at email@example.com.
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