Sustainable Fisheries: Multi-Level Approaches to a Global Problem

Inside the Framework: Making a Living from Fisheries

Grimur Valdimarsson and Rebecca Metzner

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874219.ch13

Issues relating to the fish side of fisheries—the stock and biodiversity conservation aspects—are recognized and, to a large degree, understood. However, there is not yet similar recognition and understanding of governance issues relating to the human side of fisheries, despite the fact that it is people who create the administrative entities that we call fisheries. Hence, there is an critical need to get those who are part of the process of managing fishers to genuinely understand and address the fundamental forces that influence how, where, when, and why people fish for a living.

To address this need, this paper moves inside the overarching ecosystem approach framework and focuses on the fundamental forces that affect people who fish. The paper describes some of the key realities that fishing operators, big and small, face as they try to secure a steady living from fisheries. Next, the paper describes the incentives and outcomes created by different regulatory approaches and the lessons learned about how fishers respond to these forces. The paper concludes with ideas on how to reframe governance discussions to get the greatest attention and action to change research and management approaches so that fisheries can be biologically and economically sustainable and at peace with society.

As a commodity, fish is a very valuable food item, is used for a huge variety of products, and has a good health image. Despite the fact that fish consumption is greater than ever on a global basis, the world would have needed about 40 million more metric tons of fish in 2006 (total fish production in 2006 was 143.6 million metric tons) if the common advice of health authorities were followed that humans should eat at least two 140 g portions of fish per week.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that by the year 2050, agricultural production would need to increase by 70% to cope with a 40% increase in world population and to raise average food consumption to 3,130 kcal per person per day (Bruinsma 2009); fisheries are part of the food production sector that will have to meet this growth in demand.