Fishermen’s participation, community buy-in and empowerment found to be crucial to enacting science-based management. Together with fishermen and women, community members, managers and scientists, the Environmental Defense Fund has conducted research to identify major lessons that arise from fishery case studies in Belize, Cuba, Mexico and the Philippines.
Newly published in Frontiers in Marine Science, this research investigates and evaluates the stories, challenges and lessons learned from these fisheries, where groups are developing science-based solutions for sustainable fishing.
Small-scale fisheries occur in many different governance and data contexts. By identifying common attributes of successful small-scale fishery reform efforts, the research sought to understand what conditions result in fisheries meeting key environmental, social and economic goals.
The outcomes show that – aside from sound scientific analysis – successful science-based management is founded on participation and empowerment, partnership across sectors and community buy-in.
Furthermore, the case studies show how embedding science-based fisheries management within governance systems that create incentives aligned with management objectives (such as strengthened traditional tenure systems, co-management systems, and well-designed rights-based systems) has the potential to dramatically improve the performance of small-scale fisheries.
‘I’m delighted that this research so clearly shows what we have seen and experienced on the ground in small-scale fisheries all over the world; bringing fishers and communities into the scientific and management process reaps incalculable rewards,’ said Jessica Landman, director for Environmental Defense Fund’s oceans programme in Europe.
‘This is the basis on which we collaborate with small-scale fishers and other stakeholders in Spain – and we will continue to put fishing communities at the heart of our work, ensuring they’re stewards of their futures and their environment, as we expand our programme into Portugal in 2018,’ she said, commenting that both the pathways and tools employed in fishery reform vary, but there is a growing consensus that the integration of effective fisheries governance and science-based management is as crucial for success in the small-scale realm as in larger commercial counterparts.
EDF’s findings are that the solution often includes participatory processes that empower fishermen, increase compliance, and support integration of local and scientific knowledge, partnership across sectors – improving communication and community buy-in, and scientific analysis and incorporation of fishermen’s knowledge, which can lead fishery reform and be directly applicable to co-management structures.
The research suggests that a fully integrated approach that implements a participatory process to generate a scientific basis for fishery management, putting fishers at the heart of data collection, analysis and study design, and similarly incorporates stakeholders into the design of management measures, increases the probability that small-scale fisheries will implement science-based management and improve their performance.