'Tangled in their own (safety)-nets'? Resilience, adaptability, and transformability of fishing communities in the face of the world fisheries crisis

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Today’s world fisheries crisis can be seen as one incidence of the increasing scarcity of natural resources experienced globally as a result of population growth, globalisation and increased consumption per capita, among other factors. In the case of fisheries, this situation is exacerbated by the increasing numbers of people who rely on fishing to maintain their livelihood and the use of more powerful and more efficient fishing equipment. As a consequence, there is a growing consensus that the overall fishing effort needs to be curbed significantly if the sustainability of the world fisheries is to be restored. However, how can policy reforms aimed at reducing fishing efforts be implemented without causing millions of resource-poor people to fall deeper into deprivation and food insecurity?

The overall aim of this project is to use the most recent progress in resilience thinking and wellbeing research to generate empirical qualitative and quantitative analyses and provide a policy-relevant answer to this question, thus aiming at reconciling inclusive growth with resource conservation. The project is built around 4 country case-studies: Sri Lanka and Vietnam in South Asia, Ghana in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Fiji in the Pacific region.

The ultimate beneficiaries of this project are the men and women engaged in small-scale fisheries and related formal and informal activities (fish trading and processing). This accounts for more than 117 million people in the developing world, who are increasingly affected by the world fisheries crisis.

In the medium term, the awareness and capacity of national and international policy-makers will be raised by the provision of science-based analysis guiding their decisions about the means and actions needed to address this global crisis and to reconcile inclusive growth with resource conservation. Beyond direct fish-dependent households, producers and other enterprises linked to the sector through economic multipliers will also benefit from improved resource stocks, enhanced productivity and entrepreneurship opportunities stemming from supportive inclusive growth policies.

Longer term benefits will be on consumers' nutrition and welfare and society at large in the developing countries where small-scale fisheries are prevalent, through increased access to quality food, employment, value added and revenues generated by the higher contribution of these small-scale fisheries to the national economy. Another major group of beneficiaries are researchers of various horizons, ranging from fisheries economists and socio-anthropologists, to academics with wider interests in resilience and adaptation to change, the use of wellbeing as an analytical framework to understand individuals' decisions and behaviour, and the questions of the contribution of specific sectoral activities to inclusive growth. The publication of the project's findings in top international journals is expected to lead to the subsequent development and inclusion of new research questions and new analyses in the agenda of those scientific communities, within and beyond the direct area of influence of this project.

Ripple impacts are further expected and uptake of results and recommendations more widely disseminated through the involvement of the WorldFish Center. Being an international research organisation strongly linked to other global actors (FAO, World Bank, ADB), this organization will offer an additional global dimension to the project's results. Direct access to the research will enhance its pivotal role as policy-broker and strengthen the impact of its guidance internationally. In addition, close interactions will be developed with the newly launched initiative on Voluntary Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries (FAO 2011) and the FAO's Global Programme to improve Fisheries and Aquaculture, which are shaping and supporting the fisheries agenda at the global level. The advisory involvement of the WorldFish Center will also ensure a strong connection with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the national agricultural actors with which this group is linked.

The project will also liaise and feed into strategic initiatives including the Global Program on Fisheries project supported jointly by the World Bank and FAO, and the new Regional Fisheries Program operating in West Africa and funded by the World Bank and USAID. In the Pacific, outputs from the project will complement the recent extensive review of fisheries policy and adaptation capacity that was implemented by the WorldFish Center and its partners and funded by the Asian Development Bank across five countries (PNG, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Vanuatu).

Targeted outputs will be issued throughout the project to allow rapid dissemination of findings to key audiences: practitioners, professional stakeholders, and policy-makers via established networks and knowledge dissemination support (e.g. Eldis), and partners' national and international constituencies (e.g. the ICSF). Internally, interactive engagement with all partners will be maintained through support visits, workshops at key project stages and electronic consultations.

Primary theme: 
Grant Reference: 
ES/J017825/1
Project Status: 
Active
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Research Department
Fund Start Date: 
Monday, October 1, 2012
Fund End Date: 
Friday, July 31, 2015
Fund Currency Code: 
GBP
Fund Value: 
414268
adaptation
ecosystem-degradation
fisheries
fishing-communities
livelihoods
nutrition
resilience
resource-scarcity
well-being