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


Address Costs and Benefits

According to recent analyses of fisheries management, fisheries in some parts of the world cost more than they generate. To generate benefits for society or for fishers, the fisheries management and development process needs to generate surpluses. This, in turn, means understanding the costs and benefits of the management process.

While the costs and benefits of different management systems will vary greatly, there are doubtless ways in which these costs can be rationalized through the application of good practice. One facet of costs and benefits noted in both the literature and interviews is that positive change in fisheries management requires adequate financial support for a long period of time to be effective. Ultimately this should be self-sustaining. Even in conservation-related management measures where fishers are excluded, there may be problems in financing the operations. Andrade and Rhodes (2012) noted that the successful establishment and maintenance of protected areas requires political and financial commitment in the long-term. Conservation International, in its Seascapes approach, recognizes the importance of sustainable financing and market mechanisms (Bensted-Smith and Kirkman, 2010).

The expert discussions, held as part of the review, highlighted the need for new and innovative sources of financing for fisheries and marine ecosystem management. The timeframes involved in establishing effective management processes and mechanisms are generally long and tend to stretch beyond the normal period of donor funding and project cycles, generally exceeding the mandates of politicians and administrators whose support and engagement is so important in bringing about change. Clearly, over these long timeframes, the priorities of donors, supporting agencies and politicians will often change, and the destination of available funding will often shift as these priorities evolve. For example, donors or government may prioritize setting up MPAs as a key management intervention for 2-3 years in response to wider political agendas, but this may subsequently be replaced by a desire to focus on climate change issues or community resilience for the next funding cycle.

This can make it extremely challenging to ensure the flow of resources required to support a long-term intervention to develop fisheries management. Those involved in implementing and supporting such processes on the ground often speak of the need for managers to be “entrepreneurial” in knitting together different sources of short-term funding in order to create a coherent program on the ground, and in molding the way in which they present their work in order to respond to changing priorities.

Alternative and innovative mechanisms for ensuring a more consistent and long-term flow of resources into the sector are therefore attracting increasing interest in fisheries management, just as they are already playing an increasingly important role in supporting marine conservation efforts in general. A variety of models for generating the resources to support transition to more sustainable management approaches have been proposed.

Critical Questions

To what extent are the different costs and benefits of fisheries management understood?

How are those costs and benefits shared between levels and participants?

How are these costs and benefits linked to wider development processes at the local and national levels?

What role does the market play in determining these costs and benefits?

What innovative funding mechanisms could be used to support the long-term changes needed to move the fisheries to become sustainable, fair and self-funding?