Assessment of Inland Fisheries: A Vision for the Future
Steven J. Cooke, Angela H. Arthington, Scott A. Bonar, Shanon D. Bower, David B. Bunnell, Rose E. M. Entsua-Mensah, Simon Funge-Smith, John D. Koehn, Nigel P. Lester, Kai Lorenzen, So Nam, Robert G. Randall, Paul Venturelli, and Ian G. Cowx
Abstract .—The assessment process is fundamental to ensuring that inland fisheries are managed sustainably and valued appropriately so that they can support livelihoods, contribute to food security, and generate other ecosystem services. To that end, a global group of leaders in inland fishery assessment convened to generate a list of recommendations and specific actions for improving assessment of inland fisheries. Recommendations included the needs to assess the global contribution of inland fisheries to food security, develop and implement rigorous approaches to evaluate various inland fishery management actions, develop and implement creative approaches to improve the assessment of illegal fishing activities, and improve statistical data for unreported and unregulated catches in inland waters. The group also identified a need to develop standardized and defensible methods of biological assessment of inland fish and fisheries that include data collection, database management, and data sharing and reporting to reflect diverse ecosystem types. Moreover, it was recommended that assessment be designed to better inform inland fishery management and other sector planning and decision making at the appropriate scales (e.g., integrated water resource management) through stakeholder engagement, valuation of fisheries outputs, and identification of policy alternatives with consideration of trade-offs. The inherent diversity of inland fisheries in terms of ecological, socioeconomic, and governance attributes was recognized throughout the process of developing the suggested actions, including how such attributes combine to provide fisheries-specific contexts for management. Using appropriate and accessible communication channels is critical to more effectively package, present, and transfer information that raises awareness about inland fisheries values and issues; alter human behavior; and influence relevant policy and management actions. Creating mechanisms to facilitate dialogue among the diverse range of stakeholders is equally important. Improved assessment techniques should play a fundamental role in supporting sustainable inland fisheries management and contributing to food security and livelihoods, while also maintaining or improving ecological integrity.