Applying the Illuminating Hidden Harvests Approach

This document has been adapted from the research protocol used to compile country case study data and to produce the results summarized in the 2023 report Illuminating Hidden Harvests: The Contributions of Small-Scale Fisheries to Sustainable Development, coproduced by FAO, Duke University, and WorldFish.

Fishing For Subsistence Constitutes a Livelihood Safety Net for Populations Dependent on Aquatic Foods around the World

Fishing for subsistence constitutes a livelihood safety net for poverty, malnutrition, and gender inequality for populations dependent upon aquatic foods around the world. Here, the authors provide global estimates showing that almost the same amount of small-scale fishers (52.8 million people) engage in subsistence fishing at some point during the year as in commercial employment (60.2 million people). The authors also use subsistence estimates from 14 country cases studies conducted as part of the Illuminating Hidden Harvests study to measure small-scale fisheries’ livelihood safety net function.

Illuminating Hidden Harvests: The Contributions of Small-Scale Fisheries to Sustainable Development

The global Illuminating Hidden Harvests study contributes to a more holistic understanding of what small-scale fisheries are, their importance, and why they are essential to efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. By using this knowledge wisely within a human rights-based approach in line with the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines, and by empowering small-scale fishers and fishworkers, a more inclusive, equitable, sustainable, and resilient small-scale scale fisheries subsector can be achieved.

Spatial Analysis of Aquatic Food Access Can Inform Nutrition-Sensitive Policy

Aquatic foods are critical for food and nutrition security in Malawi, but it is unclear which populations benefit from different aquatic foods and what factors shape food access. Spatial analysis of food flows across value chains from Lake Malawi to domestic consumers shows that usipa (Engraulicypris sardella) reaches more consumers than chambo (Oreochromis karongae) across all Malawi districts. Spatial analysis of food flows can guide policy makers toward supporting fisheries that reach vulnerable populations and designing interventions that enhance physical and economic access to fish.

Proximity to Small-Scale Inland and Coastal Fisheries Is Associated with Improved Income and Food Security

Poverty and food insecurity persist in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors conducted a secondary analysis of nationally representative data from Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda to investigate how both proximity to and engagement with small-scale fisheries are associated with household poverty and food insecurity. Results suggest that households engaged in small-scale fisheries were less likely to be poor than households engaged only in agriculture. Households living in proximity to small-scale fisheries were more likely to achieve adequate food security and were less likely to be income poor, compared to the most distant households.

A snapshot of the economic benefits from foreign bottom trawling in coastal West Africa: A mutually-beneficial trade in services, no winners or extractivism?

Large-scale fishing effort in the waters of tropical and lower income countries is predominantly driven by ‘distant water fishing fleets’ often owned by companies based in a small number of countries and has been associated with a range of negative environmental and social outcomes. West Africa is an example where such fleets are a dominant feature. In the waters of Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana, 75% of all licensed bottom trawl vessels in 2017 either registered (‘flagged’) or largely owned in China.

Combatting Illegal Fishing through Transparency Initiatives: Lessons Learned from Comparative Analysis of Transparency Initiatives in Seafood, Apparel, Extractive, and Timber Supply Chains

Over the last two decades, efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing have led to an expansion of initiatives to enhance transparency across the seafood industry through international agreements, national government regulations, and voluntary private initiatives. Understanding of the effects of these initiatives remains limited, and approaches contested among stakeholders.

New Perspectives on an Old Fishing Practice: Scale, Context and Impacts of Bottom Trawling

A new report by leading fisheries experts found that over 99 percent of bottom trawling worldwide occurs inside the Exclusive Economic Zones of coastal nations—with much of the effort focused within just 12 miles of shore—posing risks to critical habitats and traditional, small-scale, artisanal fishing operations. As the only globally significant fishing practice that requires sustained contact with the seabed, bottom trawling has a uniquely high impact, one that can drive habitat destruction, coastal conflict and major fuel-related carbon emissions.

Blue Gold

This article in Samudra Report discusses a study that illustrates the deep influences guiding the gilded ocean economy: just 100 companies generated 60 percent of revenues from the largest ocean-based industries in 2018.

How Does the World Bank Shape Global Environmental Governance Agendas for Coasts? 50 Years of Small-Scale Fisheries Aid Reveals Paradigm Shifts Over Time

The contribution of marine small-scale fisheries to global food security and coastal livelihoods, coupled with the significant challenges they face, has attracted increasing attention and aid from environmental organizations, philanthropies, and multilateral agencies over recent decades. Our study attends to the understudied role of the World Bank, the largest individual funder shaping present and future sustainability of coastal marine regions, as a key actor shaping global environmental governance paradigms.