Fish, Forks and Finance: The Importance of Wild Fisheries to Food and Job Security
Sustainable management of wild fisheries, especially small-scale fisheries, is critical for achieving local food security and poverty reduction in many developing countries, including many Feed the Future countries. Fish are the world’s most widely trade food products, as well as some of the most nutritious, yet are often overlooked in international and national food security discussions and action plans. There is growing interest in improving wild fisheries management not only by the public sector, but also by the private sector, as modern management approaches demonstrate their effectiveness in restoring and enhancing fish populations.
This April Ag Sector Council Seminar reviewed the evidence on the importance of wild fisheries, showed how management approaches can restore and enhance natural productivity and sustainability of coastal fisheries, and described increasing investments by the private sector in this area. Effective approaches such as community engagement in co-management, secure tenure, marine fish reserves and ecosystem-based management can increase fish populations and catches, reduce poverty and enhance community resilience to climate change. The private sector – from impact investors to Bloomberg Philanthropies – is mobilized to support the reform of practices that can revitalize and grow the world’s fisheries.
Securing tenure for small-scale fisheries is a management approach that could be as transformational for fishers as it is for smallholder farmers. Managing access to fish resources and securing tenure for small-scale fisheries is critical for sustaining fishery productivity and ensuring benefits accrue to local fishing communities, as well as for attracting private sector investments for long-term sustainability of the sector. FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Small Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication support this concept, stating that: “Small-scale fishing communities need to have secure tenure rights to the resources that form the basis for their social and cultural well-being, their livelihoods and their sustainable development.”
Effective management solutions provide hope that recovery of small-scale fisheries is possible. Rare - a non-profit with over 25 years of experience working with local communities to solve environmental problems - and USAID/Ghana under their Sustainable Fisheries Management Project, a Feed the Future activity, will highlight promising approaches to reforming the small-scale fisheries so critical to food security and nutrition. Information on specific resources and tools for USAID staff and partners on designing and managing wild fisheries projects will also be provided.
University of Rhode Island