Bottom-Up, Global Estimates of Small-Scale Marine Fisheries Catches
2006 | FCRR 14(8)
Working on small-scale fisheries often means being torn between two opposites. On one end are those who think that this is a waste of time because, "after all, industrial fisheries in the South and the North provide the bulk of the fish" [a true, and typical, quote, from an author who shall remain unnamed]. This standpoint seems to be justified because for most countries the official statistics do not identify small-scale fisheries, suggesting such catch, if any, is negligible. At the other end are cultural anthropologists and other social scientists, asserting in thesis after thesis and paper after paper that small-scale fisheries are important in the villages they studied, but numbers on catch, fishing effort and other metrics cannot be given, because everything is so complex. Indeed, one is often told by social scientists that catches are not the issue, but instead the catching itself, and the culture that develops around it.
The first line of these arguments will be perceived as being correct as long as hard numbers are missing which would document in a compelling fashion that small-scale fisheries, rather than being marginal activities conducted by marginal people, are a vibrant part of the rural economy of numerous countries, providing livelihood to millions of people, besides increasingly feeding into national and international markets.
The second line of arguments, while central to the discipline of, e.g., cultural anthropology, indirectly contributes to the marginalization of small-scale fisheries. In the excitement of documenting unique aspects of the maritime culture they study, and of describing its specialized systems of resource use, the larger context is often ignored, and the small-scale fishers and their families are not seen as actors on the national or international stage.
Both of these lines of arguments can be overcome by making the case that small-scale fisheries, rather than being a marginal sub-sector, represent, in most countries, most of the people working in fisheries, and generating nearly half of the fish and invertebrate catch, often of high values, destined for human consumption. The numbers assembled in this report support such a case.
Moreover, because they use far less fuel energy than industrial fisheries per tonne of fish landed, small-scale fisheries may point to, or even be, the future of fisheries in a world economy shaped by high fuel cost.
The conclusions of this report are tentative, however, because the database upon which they are based covers the world very unevenly. This can be addressed by exposing the content of this database to a wide audience, from which the complements and corrections will emerge that will make this database more complete and reliable, and, hopefully, more useful.
Director Fisheries Centre, UBC
09 October 2006
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS|
|MATERIALS AND METHODS.|
|Definitions of small-scale fisheries|
|Estimation of catches, fishers and boat numbers|
Data reliability and estimation challenges
|Appendix A : Country summaries|
|Appendix B : List of references used in summaries|