Toward A New Social Contract

Now also available in Spanish

Toward A New Social Contract

Community-based Resource Management and Small-scale Fisheries

By Fikret Berkes

It is a special opportunity for me to reconceptualise small-scale fisheries as a kind of community-based resource management. I hold a PhD in Marine Sciences, but I am not a fisheries specialist. I did include many of my papers [in this book] that clearly have a small-scale fisheries focus. But I also decided to include works that emphasize what I consider to be the wider circle of concepts and include the idea of social-ecological systems, resilience, commons, traditional ecological knowledge (with emphasis on Indigenous peoples), climate change and adaptation, and peoples and ecosystems.

Fikret Berkes
University of Manitoba


Prof. Berkes referred to Cree fishers as ‘masters in their environment’. This book shows that he is also that in the academic domain. One might say that Prof. Berkes’ work is mainly about natural resources, broadly speaking. But throughout this book, we can see that small-scale fisheries are well integrated in his work, and he clearly presents the many nuances about small-scale fisheries, and argues strongly for the special attention to improve the governance of this sector. He was among the first to raise issues about the need for alternative approaches to small-scale fisheries management. He brings solid evidences of that, with his research and field visits to small-scale, coastal communities around the world. His work lends itself to endorsing, with undisputable authority, that small-scale fisheries are large-scale counterpart. Faced with overfishing and fisheries unsustainability, and amidst Covid-19  pandemic, it is time to turn to small-scale fisheries and coastal communities for solutions, rather than seeing them as problems. This book tells us why, and how....

Now that the (academic) life of Fikret is an ‘open book’ for us, we invite you to delve in and enjoy learning about the many twists and turns that have shaped his work, making him one of the leaders in the publication scoreboard, and appreciate why he is so respected and admired by his students and peers around the world. Let’s also keep in mind, as we read this book, that it is quite alright, in fact encouraged, to challenge ourselves, and our own paradigm, as Prof. Berkes has done throughout his career.

Ratana Chuenpagdee
TBTI Global

'17 Berkes photo for CCA

Dr. Fikret Berkes is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. He is a marine ecologist by background who is fascinated by the diversity of relationships between societies and their resources. He has worked with small-scale fisheries in various parts of Canada (James Bay, the Maritimes, the Great Lakes, British Columbia) and diverse areas of the world (Brazil, Eastern Caribbean, Turkey, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Zanzibar). Dr. Berkes is the recipient of the ESA Sustainability Science Award, the IASC Elinor Ostrom Award for Senior Scholar, and the IUCN – CEESP Inaugural Award for Meritorious Research. His 12 books include Sacred Ecology (2018) and Coasts for People (2015).

TBTI Global Book Series

Toward A New Social Contract: Community-based Resource Management and Small-scale Fisheries is the latest book published under TBTI Global Book Series. This publication series aims to highlight why we need to pay close attention to small-scale fisheries. The series will be of use to anyone interested in learning more about small-scale fisheries, especially about their important contribution to livelihoods, well-being, poverty alleviation and food security, as well as to those who are keen to help raise profile of small-scale fisheries in the policy realm.