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


Get Market Measures Right

Market measures to support the sustainable harvesting of fish are becoming more popular in developed countries as a means to enhance the management process. Thus far, they have had limited effects in developing countries, but there is increasing pressure for these measures.

Markets have had profound effects on fisheries in many countries in recent years. Fish is now a significant source of foreign exchange for many countries, which has raised its profile among politicians. There is also a growing realization among consumers that fisheries are having profound effects on the environment. Sustainable fisheries labels are becoming an increasingly important marketing device, especially in developed country supermarkets. The extent to which this has influenced small-scale fisheries in developing countries is limited, but the number of cases is growing.

At the same time it is also becoming clear that despite consumers’ stated interests in the environmental impacts of their purchasing decisions, their actual buying behavior, especially in relation to food, is more likely to be determined by other factors. The current global financial crisis has seen consumer confidence fall and their behavior increasingly influenced by price. The industry therefore cannot, at the moment, rely on consumers being prepared to pay a price premium for sustainable fish and seafood.

While market demand can influence the way fisheries are managed, there is a need to ensure that the poorer fishing communities are not excluded from these benefits through the cost of certification. It is also necessary to ensure that the increased revenues that certification may bring do not act as an incentive for increased movement into the fishery.

The need for a better understanding of how market mechanisms such as eco-labeling and certification work across international market chains was highlighted during expert interviews. The experts noted that the expected premiums to producers from such schemes did not always seem to materialize or were insufficient to cover the considerable costs involved in compliance with such mechanisms.

Critical Questions

How has the role of markets been considered in the fisheries management process and what role does the market play in determining how resources are exploited?

What role does/can eco-labeling and certification play in the fishery?

How effective has this been in improving livelihoods of fishers and other participants, and in the more sustainable use of the resources?

How have the poor been incorporated in these programmes?

How are the costs of such initiatives covered and by whom?