Special Collection: Sustainable Fisheries

Coastal Fisheries Success Factors

Policy & Planning

Embrace Complexity

Address Conflicting Aims

Recognise Context

Operate at Multiple Scales

Ensure Institutional Coherence

Ensure Sustainability

Adapt to Changes

Technical Implementation

Establish Rights & Responsibilities

Change Incrementally

Understand Institutional Fit

Incorporate Politics

Address Costs and Benefits

Get Market Measures Right

community engagement

Understand Dependency

Balance Livelihoods

Build Capacity

Engage Fishers

Address Compliance

Ensure Participation

Link Knowledge Systems

Adapt to Changes and External Pressures

Fisheries are always changing and often in ways that cannot be predicted. Climate change is having considerable effects on fisheries , and fuel and food prices are changing rapidly. With the best will in the world plans will need to be adjusted and changed over time. Being able to adapt to these external pressures will be an important function of future fisheries management.

The coast is in a constant state of flux and is subject to major upheavals from time to time. Coastal and marine social-ecological systems are characterized by their high degree of risk and uncertainty (Ferrol-Schulte et al., 2013). Fishers, fish farmers and their communities around the world tend to experience natural disasters because of their location, the characteristics of their livelihood activities, and their overall high levels of exposure to natural hazards, livelihood shocks and climate change impacts. Exposure and vulnerability to these hazards is increasing (FAO, 2012a). The ability to predict, prepare for, cope with and adapt to change will be critical to any fisheries management situation.

There are other changes such as global food and fuel prices that change the costs and benefits of fisheries, and affect the tourism trade which can be a significant market for many small-scale fishers (e.g. in the Caribbean). In addition, global terrorism and economic decline affect markets and especially tourism which directly affect fish sales and alternative employment opportunities.

Increasing coastal populations and coastal development are also having a significant effect of coastal habitats and pollution. Coastal tourism, whilst bringing opportunities to coastal communities also increases stress on water and land use. Inland infrastructure (such as dams and factories) is also beginning to affect water quality and flows into coastal areas.

It is likely that there will seldom be situations where all is known and forecasts are consistently accurate in the fisheries management process, and McConney and Charles (2008) note that the response should not be to seek more sophisticated fisheries models but rather to learn to live with uncertainty. There is a growing support for adaptive management processes which foster resilience and flexibility (Mahon et al., 2008, Allen and Gunderson, 2011, Evans et al., 2011b). Alp╬»zar (2006) notes that co-management and community-based management approaches have the potential to respond to change and dynamic conditions more quickly than central programmes because they are closer to where these changes are being experienced. Berkes et al. (2000)point out that traditional management systems have certain elements in common with adaptive management strategies; “Traditional Ecological Knowledge can be viewed as a ‘library of information’ on how to cope with dynamic change in complex systems” (Berkes et al., 2000, 1259).

However, as Gondo (2008) notes, adaptive co-management systems and tools are still at an early stage of their development and should be treated with caution. Gondo notes that a key part of adaptive co-management is the need for continuous experimentation and experience in dealing with the associated problems. This is no new experience for fisheries managers who have generally experimented with management measures over decades.


Critical Questions

How has climate change, natural disasters, coastal development, population pressure, fuel prices, food prices and other global shocks and trends affected the fishery?

To what extend has the fishery adapted to such changes?

How are these pressure likely to change in the future?

How innovative, adaptive and sectorally integrated is the fisheries management process in the face of such complex change?

How resilient and adaptive are fishers’ livelihoods in the face of such change - can these attributes be strengthened and embedded in the management approach?