As part of Too Big To Ignore’s SSF open house, CABFISHMAN partners hosted an interactive webinar, titled ‘Hands on Deck: New Tools for SSF’. The open house cast a light on the life and livelihoods on all those working in small-scale fisheries globally, bringing attention to the vital role that such fisheries play, celebrating their varied contributions to economy, culture and society, and facilitating a dialogue about an inclusive, equitable and just future for ocean development.

CABFISHMAN were pleased to join an exciting line up of presenters contributing to the theme of ‘Change & Resilience’ in June 2021. 

The event, chaired by Arantza Murillas (AZTI Foundation) gave an overview of CABFISHMAN’s work to promote sustainability throughout the small-scale fishing sector, and enhance collaboration between the many actors who facilitate fisheries management in the Northeast Atlantic. One of the ways in which CABFISHMAN seeks to do this is through the creation of a set of new tools for fisheries governance. These tools will be applicable world-wide, and are informed by assessments of the interactions between small-scale fishing and marine habitats, understanding the impacts of small-scale fisheries on coastal zones, and emphasising the value added through fisheries’ cultural heritage.

Panel Session 1: Spatial patterns of small-scale fishing activity: tools overview and examples
Tania Mendo (University of St Andrews) and Estanis Mugerza (AZTI) gave an overview of the different spatial tracking systems that are used in Northeast Atlantic small-scale fisheries, noting some of their drawbacks and providing practical examples of their value in supporting small-scale fisheries management. 

The presentation was followed by an interactive panel of three questions and answers: 

  1. Are tracking devices being used to collect spatio-temporal data from small-scale fishing vessels in your country?
  2. What are the most important benefits of tracking small-scale fisheries?
  3. What are the main challenges to the use of tracking devices for small-scale fisheries management?

Almost half of respondents mentioned that, while tracking devices were used to track small-scale fisheries in their countries, coverage was typically very low (<5% of vessels). Approximately 40% of respondents noted that coverage in their country was ‘medium’ (>5%-<25% of vessels), and the remaining participants noted that coverage was ‘large’ (>25%). These findings suggest that tracking in SSF is becoming increasingly common, despite the general assumption that such fisheries are not widely monitored. Participants identified estimating fishing effort, informing marine spatial planning, and identifying main fishing grounds as the most important benefits of effective tracking. ‘Empowering fishers’ was not perceived to be  an important benefit of tracking, indicating that there is scope for developing the concept further in scientific and management circles. The main challenge to the use of tracking devices was identified as the concern held by fishers that data may be used and viewed by other fishers (e.g AIS); as well as the perception that the trackers will be for control and enforcement rather than fisheries management.


Panel Session 2: A multi-criteria evaluation matrix for assessing the potential impacts of small-scale fishing gear
Paulo Vasconcelos (IPMA) and Jorge Manuel dos Santos Gonçalves (CCMAR/UAlg) presented an evaluation matrix, developed within the framework of CABFISHMAN, that aims to assess, score, and rank the fishing impacts of diverse gear types operated by the small-scale fleet in the Northeast Atlantic area. 

The presentation was followed by an interactive panel of three questions: 

  1. Should low-impact gears be favoured by enhanced access to fishing areas/resources?; 
  2. Which benefits/compensations could be awarded to fishermen using low-impact gears?
  3. Would you support the replication of this evaluation matrix in your region/country: where, why and how?

All participants supported the suggestion of giving priority access to low-impact gears, particularly in zones with fragile or endangered species and habitats. Respondents noted that possible benefits/compensations for operating low-impacting gears could include granting access to more sensitive areas, where highly impacting gears should be prohibited; cheaper licenses, taxes and fees for fishermen operating low-impact gears; and certification of environmental sustainability and promotional campaigns for fishery products harvested using low-impacting gears. Respondents felt that the potential replication of this methodology elsewhere would allow a comprehensive perspective on fishing impacts to be formed, harnessing the insight of a diverse range of experts and stakeholders (researchers, administrators, NGO’s, fishermen, etc.), with the ultimate aim of improving small-scale fisheries management.


Panel Session 3: Fisheries and cultural heritage: A reference database to identify fisheries’ cultural heritage in the Atlantic area
David Castilla (Universidad de Huelva) and Laura García de la Fuente (Indurot) presented a tool, produced within the scope of CABFISHMAN’s Natural Heritage work, that provides a reference database on natural and cultural heritage related to fisheries in the Northeast Atlantic. They highlighted the need for social and economic issues to be considered alongside biological ones at management levels, outlining how the CABFISHMAN tool allows for the tangible and intangible cultural and heritage value of small-scale fisheries to be evaluated against other factors.

The presentation was followed by an interactive panel focusing on three topics: 

  1. The utility of the CABFISHMAN tool in the European Atlantic area and beyond; 
  2. The viability of managing the seas, oceans, and fisheries without accounting for cultural values; 
  3. Who should finance the cost of the conservation and preservation of cultural heritage related to fisheries?

All participants perceived that  cultural services related to, and derived from, fisheries must be considered for successful management of marine resources. Many also noted that  it is desirable that the tool presented is generalized in the context of small-scale fisheries. Finally,  most respondents considered that the preservation and conservation of fisheries cultural heritage should be financed by a combination of general taxes and specific local fees, managed by both local public administration and non-profit private organizations.



A video recording of the event can be found below: