The community cleans rthe days catch of mainly juvenile parrot fish in Caracol.

Working Group:
Fisheries Measures

Global organizations from the World Bank to charitable foundations and NGOs spend hundreds of millions of dollars to improve the contribution of fisheries to food security and poverty alleviation. But the lack of data on the health of the world’s fish stocks makes it difficult to determine whether these investments are achieving their goals. Can a coordinated global effort both close the information gaps, and provide a framework for determining which elements of fisheries management systems lead to the best long-term outcomes for food security, poverty alleviation and marine conservation?

Photo: Tim Calver for The Nature Conservancy | More Info
Photo: ©Bridget Besaw

Working Group Summary

Can Global Scientific Collaboration Improve the Health of the World’s Fisheries?

Effective management of the world’s fisheries suffers from many challenges, but the lack of data and analysis magnifies the challenges tenfold. The Fisheries Measures Working Group brings together a mix of scientists from fisheries around the world to improve the science of fisheries management and the health of the world’s fisheries. The group will collect information from more countries to improve our understanding of the current status of key fish stocks, and provide a systematic analysis of all the factors that lead to good outcomes in fisheries management.

Learn about the Challenge

Photo: © Nick Hall

The Challenge

Managing the World’s Fisheries to Improve Marine Conservation, Increase Food Security and Reduce Poverty

Fisheries are an important source of global food security, income and employment and are closely tied to changes in the health of marine environments. Around the world, fish provide about 3 billion people with almost 20 percent of their intake of animal protein, and 4.3 billion people with at least 15 percent of such protein.1 Many international organizations such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility are investing in projects to improve the contribution of fisheries to food security and poverty alleviation. Several U.S. foundations and NGOs fund hundreds of projects around the world with similar objectives.

Unfortunately, the world’s best efforts at managing its fisheries are hampered by two distinct, but related challenges: (1) a profound lack of data on the health of global fish stocks, and (2) a lack of a systematic analysis of which elements of fisheries management systems lead to improvements in marine conservation, increases in food security, and reductions in poverty.

Several major initiatives just beginning, such as the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans and the 50 in 10 Program — need new information and analysis to support science-based decisions on how to produce the most benefits.

Given the world’s need for healthy fish stocks, a systematic review of the performance of fisheries and analysis of factors leading to successful outcomes is long overdue. The Fisheries Measures Working Group will fill that gap and provide information to help guide management of specific fisheries, as well as investment in projects and solutions that are shown to achieve the best outcomes over time.

Read about the Inquiry

1 FAO. The State of the Worlds Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012. Rome.

A huge school of Yellowstripe Scads in tight formation in the waters of Dampier Strait off the Raja Ampat Islands of Indonesia. The Coral Triangle contains 75 percent of all known coral species, shelters 40 percent of the world’s reef fish species and provides for 126 million people.

The Inquiry

Creating a Global Baseline for the Status of Fisheries and an Understanding of the Relationship Between Management Approaches and Fishery Performance

The work of the Fisheries Measures Working Group will:

  • Increase the coverage of the global fish stock status and management databases and identify major information gaps.
  • Provide an evaluation of the status of fish stocks and fisheries for as much of the world as possible.
  • Provide a systematic analysis linking management and exogenous factors leading to good outcomes in fisheries management.

The group will identify how to expand the coverage of the databases and evaluate the relationship between fisheries management approaches and biological, social and economic outcomes. Current fisheries databases rely primarily on online resources and the personal connections of a loose-knit collaboration of a dozen or so individuals. There is a considerable amount of data in much of the world that can be accessed only in-country with direct personal connection. The Fisheries Measures Working Group will aim to expand data coverage by deepening the set of contacts in underrepresented areas and encourage a broad range of individuals to join the collaborative group.

Several Working Group participants have been involved in evaluating the relationship between fisheries management approaches and success, but none of these analyses have been global in perspective and none have had at their disposal the expansive database that is this group’s goal to produce. We will identify the factors leading to success for a large diversity of situations ranging from data-rich to data-limited stocks, with poor to rich monitoring, management and enforcement capability. While there is almost certainly a relationship between success and the amount of resources and money put into managing fisheries, it will be particularly important to also identify successful low-cost measures for data-limited fisheries.

The databases can be used to identify priority fisheries for improvement of monitoring programs and potential improvements of fisheries performance. The analysis will provide a scientific basis for understanding the effectiveness of alternative approaches to fisheries management and a definitive paper on the status and trends of world fisheries.
This analysis will also provide guidance for governments and NGOs on specific management approaches, strategies and tactics that can be used to improve fishery performance.

The results of this study will provide both a baseline for the status of fisheries and an understanding of the relationship between management approaches and fishery performance. The same information will necessarily be of considerable use to national governments and regional fisheries management bodies.

Meet the Fisheries Measures Team

Photo: © Jeff Yonover | More Info

The Team

The Fisheries Measures Team