Supporting Small-Scale Fisheries

The global seafood trade depends on the prosperity of small-scale and artisanal fisheries.

More than 113 million people are directly employed in small-scale and artisanal fisheries, representing more than 90 percent of the workforce in capture fisheries. Nearly all are located in developing countries.

Some iconic fisheries, including mahi-mahi and blue swimming crab, are caught predominantly by small-scale or artisanal fishers. These products are highly sought after and largely consumed in large international markets, including the US, EU, Japan, and China.

Yet, despite their crucial importance, many of these fisheries often lack adequate management and governance systems — putting the livelihoods of millions of people at risk and threatening the health of the marine environment.

The global demand for seafood has grown exponentially over the past three decades and is expected to continue to rise, especially within sectors that primarily source from small-scale fisheries. Sustaining this growing demand will require new approaches and tools for successful management of small-scale fisheries and improvements in social and economic well-being for small-scale and artisanal fishers.

Engaging small-scale and artisanal fishers

Alternative approaches are needed to ensure legal fishing rights and effective participation of fishers in the decision-making process, so that the needs of resource users and their communities are reflected in fisheries management. Lack of legal fishing rights puts the products produced by artisanal and small-scale producers at risk of being considered illegal, and lack of participation by organized fishers in fishery management processes can lead to unsustainable fishing practices, putting the health of the fishery at risk and undermining improvement efforts.

SFP’s Supporting Small-Scale Fisheries initiative focuses on building the enabling conditions for positive change in fisheries governance systems and fairer distribution of benefits, through effective co-management of fisheries.


Small-scale fisheries logo
Fisher in Palawan


What Can I Do?

Learn more about how you can help improve small-scale fisheries and give fishers a greater voice in decision making.