Fishers Knowledge and the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries

Lucy Towers
12 October 2015, at 1:00am

The ecosystem approach to fisheries is a general approach to fisheries management that essentially balances the aims for human and ecological well-being under the broad concept of sustainable development in a fisheries context.

The broad data and information base required for implementing the ecosystem approach to fisheries incorporates scientific, traditional and local knowledge of fisheries resources, the ecosystem, and the socio-economic context.

Fishers have a wealth of knowledge and experience that is extremely valuable for research and management of fisheries, particularly in the case of small-scale fisheries in developing countries, where scientific data are often scarce.

A major impediment to the integration of fishers’ knowledge in the ecosystem approach to fisheries is the lack of formal guidance on this topic.

A technical paper from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) now provides a series of reviews and case studies from nine Latin American countries on how to integrate fishers' knowledge into fisheries management under the ecosystem approach to fisheries.

The cases cover a broad range of topics including the expertise of fishers and its application to the ecosystem approach, as well as methods and legal instruments to use fishers' knowledge in fisheries assessment and management.

In general, the papers emphasise fishers' knowledge in the context of small-scale fisheries in both marine and inland systems in Latin America and the role of fishers as active participants in research and management processes.

Highlights include a look at the local ecological knowledge that fishers' possess and case studies on how this knowledge can be used to improve fisheries, such as in spiny lobster populations. The report also covers how to use such knowledge in a practical context, and how it may be incorporated into a legal and regulatory framework.

Click here to read the full report.

October 2015