Working groups

The component Global Analysis focuses on defining and developing an  on-line information system for small-scale fisheries (ISSF) to capture, store and communicate key parameters, and to undertake multi-level and multi-scale analysis of SSF data (WG1). The ISSF will capture the key characteristics of small-scale fisheries in any given location across the ‘fish chain’ from aquatic ecosystem to plate, including the nature and type of fisheries and fishing activities, fishers’ relationships with fish buyers and money lenders, and the legal pluralism in the rules and norms governing fisheries. This system will use innovative ways to visualize information to help generate new knowledge and for effective communication with end- users, such as universities and policy makers, and will provide a solid foundation for multi- level analysis of SSF that will enable appropriate policy development and decision-making. WG1 Leader: Dr. Rodolphe Devillers, Canada.

The component  Big Questions is concerned with:

  • Strengthening the Base (WG2) investigates  how to improve economic viability and increase resilience to large-scale processes Through modelling, scenario analysis and case studies, WG2 explores ways to help increase the economic viability and resilience of small-scale fisheries, and enhance their adaptive capacity to the ongoing challenges. WG2 Leader: Dr. Rashid Sumaila, Canada;
  • Broadening the Scope (WG3)  focuses on what aspects of small-scale fisheries need to be accounted for and emphasized in order to increase awareness of their actual and potential social contributions and their overall societal importance. WG3 focuses on building understanding of public and private values through inquiry and reflection, going beyond economic benefits to consider the cultural, historical and intergenerational values of small-scale fisheries. Approaches and frameworks to properly account for small-scale fisheries’ contributions to poverty alleviation, food security, economic development, quality of life, and livelihood diversification will be developed and tested. WG3 Leader: Dr. Derek Johnson, Canada;
  • Enhancing the Stewardship (WG4) aims to understand what alternatives are available for minimizing environmental impacts and fostering stewardship within small-scale fisheries. Because small-scale fisheries are large in number, and often operate in remote areas,  in the absence of monitoring systems, assessing the impacts of this sector on the environment is a major challenge. An integration of scientific methods, modelling and local knowledge is required to fully capture small-scale fisheries’ footprints. WG4 is further tasked with finding ways to promote conservation and stewardship initiatives that, instead of criminalizing the small-scale fishing sector, help make it possible for them to maintain their livelihoods without eroding their ecological base. WG4 Leader: Dr. Patrick McConney, Barbados (;
  • Defending the Beach (WG5) look at what type of mechanisms are required to secure livelihoods, physical space and rights for small-scale fishing people. The work of this group involves spatial and temporal analysis of traditional uses, territorial rights, ownership, mobility, migration patterns, and power relations. Factors and conditions underlying displacement of small-scale fishers and reallocation of their de facto access, use and management rights are at the heart of this investigation, including the impact of government fleet rationalization or privatization. WG5 Leader: Dr. Evelyn Pinkerton, Canada;
  • Governing the Governance (WG6) examines what institutions and principles are suitable for the governance of fisheries. WG6 will conduct an analysis of current governance discourse to understand what images, principles and practices underlie key policies and decisions, how they materialize in governing institutions and strategies, as well as how closely they relate to those of small-scale fishing people. The team will also examine the extent to which existing institutions and governance systems contribute to fostering or inhibiting the quality of fisheries governance in general and in the context of small-scale fisheries in particular.  WG6 Leader: Dr. Svein Jentoft, Norway.

The component  Knowledge Integration  encompasses synergy creation, knowledge mobilization and capacity building. Findings from the global analysis of small-scale fisheries (Component 1) and from the in-depth studies conducted in various parts of the world (Component 2) will be integrated and synthesized in this component, guided by the transdisciplinary perspective offered by the interactive governance framework, to generate new understandings and insights into the ‘big’ questions.  As part of this component,  a transdisciplinary fisheries course that will be offered in various languages, and in appropriate ways, such as distance learning, on-line and off-line self-taught packages, field course training, or as part of the curriculum for degree programs and other educational initiatives, will be developed. WG7 Leader: Dr. Kurt Korneski.