Market Opportunities

Small-scale fisheries (SSF) make an important contribution to nutrition, food security, sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation. However, too often the financial compensation they receive for their work is meager. Several factors affect the capacity of small-scale fishers to sell their fish, receive fair prices, and to add value to their catches. For instance, existing national, regional or local regulations, globalized marketing schemes, and other trade barriers may restrict opportunities for small-scale fishers to benefit fully from the exchange. Yet, there are successful examples that we can learn from.

Most countries worldwide are committed to sustainable fisheries. Often the development of a sustainable fishing industry is mentioned, at least in developed countries. However, sustainability considerations often focus on the production system itself and ignore issues around markets and the value chain. This cluster is interested in the supply chain from catch to markets in general, to know how local SSF catches interact with those from large-scale fleets, and how world markets impact on local fishing strategies. The role of middlemen in SSF marketing cannot be ignored, and special focus must be placed on how SSF organizations enter into markets. Preliminary research lets us assume that the role of small-scale fishing organizations is essential to take advantage of new market opportunities; for instance, developing labelling schemes for SSF products. Furthermore, local fresh fish obtained with sustainable gears frequently is not adequately differentiated from the catches of industrial fleets or from fish entering the market refrigerated or frozen. Women’s role in the marketing of fishing products has historically been extremely important in many coastal societies, and is still the case in many places. We need to emphasize the relevance of this role and the changes taking place in many coastal areas in the last decades.

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


The market cluster aims to analyze current strategies adopted by small-scale fishers in order to market their fish, to understand their challenges and shortcomings, and to explore the possibilities for improving the current situation. Specifically, the objectives of the cluster are to:

-Analyze the marketing channels and strategies for SSF products and their outcomes, including labeling schemes, alternative food networks and direct fish trade;

-Examine the role of women and SSF organizations in fish marketing and ways to enhance their involvement and success;

-Indicate how technological innovations may help to improve market shares and benefits to SSF people;

-Devise strategies to better differentiate SSF products from the catches coming from world markets, large-scale fisheries or aquaculture; and

-Make appropriate policy recommendations based on these findings.

Research questions

Knowledge about SSF markets is scarce, due partly to the huge diversity of marketing strategies, with local market conditions forcing specific behavior patterns. In order to achieve the objectives set by the cluster, we need to collect basic information about SSF market systems and successful strategies, guided by the following questions:

Marketing channels for SSF catches

1. Who sells the catches? (e.g., fishers, women, fishers’ wives, fishers’ organization or cooperative, other)

2. a) Who buys the product (approx. %)? (e.g., local people through direct sell, middlemen, supermarkets, fish shop, industries)

2. b) What are the exact steps of the chain? i.e. what happens to a fish/shellfish product from “sea to plate”? (g., middle man buy 50% – sell half to fish shops and half to supermarkets)

3. Who are the consumers and where are they? (e.g., mainly local people, in the next city, somewhere in the country, regional market, international trade)? Why it is sold in this way (if any)? (e.g., due to convenience, because this market offers the better price)

4. Prices paid to fishers for main species and how/why does it fluctuate (if at all)?

Marketing strategies for SSF catches and outcomes

5. SSF catches are well differentiated in the market from large-scale or world-market fisheries?

6. Are there any initiatives for paying good/fair prices to fishers for SSF catches?

  • Differentiation strategies (e.g. label of origin), sustainability (e.g. MSC, others), commercial agreements (e.g. with major retailers), innovation in markets, technological innovations (e.g. online sell of catches), etc.

7. How different is the price paid to fishers from the price paid by consumers for the main species (if the information is available)?

First sale price? (in auction); Average final price? (e.g., less than 10% of final price; 10-20% of final price, 20-50% of final price; more than 50% of final price)

8. What are the most important problems in marketing of SSF products?

  • Low demand? Low prices? Lack of marketing infrastructure? Other?

Fishers’ organizations and marketing, with a focus on success cases

9. How women and/or fisher organizations have been involved in the marketing strategies?

10. What has the previous collective action experience of fisher organizations been in other areas? What alliances, if any, were developed with other actors in the value chain?

11. What problems surged, and how were they managed to facilitate success?

12. Can the successful marketing experience be scaled-up? If yes, how?


The final outcome for this cluster would be a better understanding of the marketing systems and strategies for SSF. One of the deliverables will be a database of case studies about market opportunities based on the research questions mentioned above. We aim to synthesize lessons from the empirical evidence collected and use that as a basis for the development of innovation strategies for SSF marketing. We also plan to publish a special volume in a journal about market opportunities for SSF, with detailed/developed case studies contribution.

Timeline / Work plan

We call on all individuals or institutions, including universities, research institutes and community-based organizations from different geographical locations interested in contributing to this exciting thematic cluster by actively participating in the generation of these outcomes. Case study contributions should be based on ongoing or recently concluded work.

If you would like to get involved in the cluster and learn more about it, please contact us at

Additional material

TBTI webinar series on SSF Markets: Small-scale fisheries in Europe: Roles of markets, communities and organizations


How to contribute

1. Rapid assessment of market 

The market cluster aims to analyze current strategies adopted by small-scale fishers in order to market their fish, to understand their challenges and shortcomings, and to explore the possibilities for improving the current situation.

This rapid assessment survey is an important starting point towards reaching these objectives. As such, we are inviting small-scale fishers, practitioners and researchers to complete a survey. The analysis will be global and comparative and will be weighted to reflect the level of knowledge and familiarity of the respondents.

To find out more about the assessment and to contribute your data, download the Market opportunities_Rapid Assesment template. The completed template should be sent to as an attachment.


2. 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

Jose Pascual, University of La Laguna , Spain

Cristina Pita, University of Aberdeen, UK

Helga Josupeit, Independent consultant

Joonas Plaan, Memorial University, Canada

Cluster members
Name Affiliation Country
A., Jose Plymouth Marine Laboratory UK
Abobi, Seth Mensah Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research Germany
Abura, Samson Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization Uganda
Adeleye, Abisayo Lagos State University Nigeria
Advani, Sahir University of British Columbia Canada
Asase, Amos University of Energy and Natural Resources Ghana
Akintola, Shehu Lagos State University Nigeria
Bailey, Megan Dalhousie University Canada
Balaraman, Subramanian Our Sea Our People India
Bannwart, Janaina Fishery coordinator of Epagri Brazil
Barter, Lachlan University Center for the Westfjords Iceland
Bassett, Hannah Univesity of Washington USA
Bennett, Abigail Duke University USA
Buxton, Jordan San Diego Zoo Global USA
Bystrom, Andy University of Costa Rica Costa Rica
Cakacaka, Akuila Institute of Tropical Marine Research Germany
Cardoso, Inês MARE- Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre Portugal
Carvalho, Julia UFSC Universidade federal de Santa Catarina Brazil
Cavaco, Patricia Sustainability Consultant Portugal
Combest-Friedman, Chelsea Fauna & Flora International Belize
Cronin, Holly McGill University Canada
De Freitas, Debora Biosciences Institute São Paulo State University-UNESP, Coastal Campus Brazil
De Freitas, Rodrigo Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo Brazil
Doddema, Mandy Wageningen University Netherlands
Ekpe, Sonigitu Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Nigeria
Elegbede, Isa Brandenburg University of Technology Germany
Esteves, Pedro Fundação Instituto de Pesca do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Ferrer, Alice University of the Philippines Visayas Philippines
Floro, Julien Marine Conservationist Portugal
Friedman, Kim FAO Italy
Gaviola, Saúl Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero Argentina
Gaynor, Amanda Rare USA
Gephart, Jessica SESYNC USA
Gillies-da Mota, Sonia Canpor Trading Canada
Ginindza, Joseph University of the Western Cape South Africa
Godjali, Nandana Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI) Foundation Indonesia
Goetting, Kathryn Oregon State University USA
Gurung, Tek Nepal Agricultural Research Council Nepal
Hammer, Jacob Viking USA
Hapke, Holly East Carolina University USA
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
Hunnam, Kim Charles Darwin University Australia
Jiménez Badillo, Ma. de Lourdes Veracruz University Mexico
Jouanneau, Charlène Charlène Jouanneau Consultant France
Kamlesh Fofandi India Volunteer
Kehinde, Adekeye Fisheries Society of Nigeria Nigeria
Kochalski, Sophia University of Liverpool UK
Khan, Zaidy United Nations Nippon Fellow Grenada
Kinds, Arne Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO) Belgium
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 Norwegian University of Technology and Science Norway
Loneragan, Neil School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University Australia
López, Javier INFOPESCA Uruguay
Lundrigan, Patrick Fish harvester Canada
Lueiro, Xoán Inacio Amoedo Consultant Spain
Marjadi, Meghna The Ohio State University USA
Martinez Tovar ,Ivan Ocean Outcomes USA
McClenachan, Loren Colby College USA
Mensah, Isaac Cardiff University UK
Miller, Alice International Pole and Line Foundation UK
Mombourquette, Dan Saint Mary's University Canada
Mungoni, Sibonginkosi Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research Zimbabwe
Mvula, Stanley Department of Fisheries Malawi
Nauen, Cornelia Mundus maris - Sciences and Arts for Sustainability Belgium
Nthane, Tsele University of Cape Town South Africa
Nuno, Ana University of Exeter UK
Olamilekan, Phillips Lagos State University Nigeria
Oliveira, Ticiano Federal University of Alagoas Brazil
O'Neill, Elizabeth Drury Stockholm Resilience Centre Sweden
Oyanedel, Rodrigo Universidad Catolica de Chile / University of California, Santa Barbara Chile
Palmer, Roy Aquaculture without Frontiers Australia
Pantazis, Alekos Independent Greece
Parker, Kashiefa International Ocean Institute South Africa
Peckham, Hoyt Stanford University Mexico
Pomeroy, Carrie University of California Sea Grant USA
Potts, Tavis University of Aberdeen UK
Rachmawati, Laksmi Indonesian Institute of Sciences Indonesia
Ragusa, Gianluca International Independent consultant - Fisheries and aquaculture specialist Italy
Raju, Surapa Council for Social Development India
Rakotondrazafy Andriamampandry, Riambosoa MIHARI - Madagascar LMMA Network Madagascar
Reghu, Raghu Prakash Central Insitute Of Fisheries Technology India
Revold, Jens UiT-Arctic University of Norway Norway
Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Gonzalo University of Santiago de Compostela Spain
Said, Alicia PhD Student, University of Kent UK
Salas, Silvia Cinvestav Merida Mexico
Sanguinetti, Tomas Memorial University of Newfoundland Canada
Schneider, Katharina Heidelberg University Germany
Selgrath, Jennifer University of British Columbia Canada
Sequeira, Vera MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Center Portugal
Siriwardane-de Zoysa, Rapti Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) Germany
Snape, Robin University of Exeter Cyprus
Steenbergen, Dirk Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security Australia
Sule, Fatimah Lagos State University Nigeria
Taiwo, Ganzallo Sylvester Lagos State University Nigeria
Travaille, Kendra University of Western Australia Australia
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
Vessaz, Fanny NA Switzerland
Viswanathan, K Kuperan Universiti Utara Malaysia Malaysia
Ward, Ansen Fisheries development specialist UK
Wessels, Peter Dalhousie University Canada
Witter, Allison UBC Fisheries Centre Canada
Young, Samantha San Diego Zoo Global USA