Supporting Small-Scale Fisheries

Co-management in small-scale fisheries

Co-management benefits the entire supply chain.

Fisheries co-management is a partnership approach, where government and the fishery resource users share the responsibility and authority for the management of a fishery or fisheries in an area, based on collaboration between themselves and with other stakeholders.

However, many small-scale fisheries are operated by fishers who lack legal fishing rights and are not engaged in the governance system used to develop fishery management measures. This often leads to a system of management where one of the key fishery stakeholders – the fishers themselves – has been marginalized and excluded from the process.

Co-management offers opportunities to improve sustainability efforts through inclusive participation of all stakeholders.

Four key principles and pre-conditions must exist for co-management to be successful

  1. Access to Legal Fishing Rights: Fishers need to be officially recognized as having the right to fish before they can participate in fishery management. This means that fishers and vessels have to be registered and have fishing permits.
  2. Organizational Development and Leadership Capacity of Fishers: Co-management requires representative organizations that can both mobilize fishers in collective action and act on their behalf on a number of fronts, including the development of policies to improve the fisheries sector and the conservation of resources.
  3. Effective Participation of Fishers in Decision Making: The participation of fishers should occur within an official framework that creates clear opportunities for fishers to engage in the decision-making process at all relevant levels.
  4. Balancing rights and responsibilities: As stakeholders in the governance system, fishers also have the ability and responsibility to contribute their expertise and knowledge to managing the fishery through participation in science and research that can support management.

Putting co-management into action

Learn about how co-management principles are being applied and put into action in artisanal and small-scale fisheries around the globe.

Legal Fishing Rights
Participation in Decision Making
Organized Fishers
Balancing Rights and Responsibilities

What Can I Do?

Learn more about how you can support co-management and give fishers a greater voice in decision making and fisheries management.