Small-scale fisheries

Small-scale fisheries: Their contribution to food security, poverty alleviation and sustainability

Who are the small-scale fishers and fishworkers?
Small-scale fisheries currently employ over 90 per cent of the world’s fishers and fishworkers engaged in catching, processing, trading and marketing fish. About half of these are women. Small-scale fisheries contribute about half of global fish catches. When considering catches destined for direct human consumption, the share contributed by this sub-sector increases to two-thirds. Small-scale fishing and related activities often underpin the local economies in coastal, lakeshore, riverine and other riparian communities and constitute an engine, generating work and income in other sectors, through forward and backward linkages. In many instances, fishery activities may be part-time and seasonal in nature, providing an important additional source of food and income in many communities.

Although fishing is generally regarded as men’s work, women play a vital, but often hidden role. They comprise up to 90 per cent of the workforce in upstream “secondary activities”, such as buying and selling, processing, and related marketing activities, referred to as the “post harvest sector”. In many regions of the world women are engaged in gathering or otherwise harvesting shellfish and seaweeds from the shore. They engage, to a lesser extent, in fishing, especially in inland and inshore waters. At the same time, and particularly given that men are often away fishing, women remain responsible for sustaining and maintaining the fishing household as well as the social and cultural fabric of their communities. Women’s work, however, tends to be either poorly remunerated or non-remunerated.

For millions of people around the world small-scale fisheries is a socially and culturally fulfilling way of life...


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