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Fishing in the shadows: Overlooked by policymakers, small-scale fishers face growing challenges

Fishing boats in Ražanac, Croatia
Fishing boats in Ražanac, Croatia   -   Copyright  euronews
By Denis Loctier

Small-scale fisheries (SSF) play a crucial role in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region, representing 83% of the fleet, 57% of employment onboard vessels, 29% of revenue and 15% of the catch. However, small-scale fishers often have limited access to social protection programmes and financial services — and their catch is not always adequately monitored.

Living in a shadow

According to Marco Costantini, Fisheries Project Manager at the WWF Mediterranean Program Office, many small-scale fishers "live in a sort of a shadow".

Marco Costantini, Fisheries Project Manager, WWF Mediterranean Program Office:

"Small-scale fishers are the key component of the fishing fleet of the Mediterranean. 83% to 85% of the entire fleet is made by small-scale fishers, and small-scale fishers are always located in remote areas, and small ports.

"There are very few policies dedicated to them. In particular, there is a huge discrepancy between the way they are managed and the way industrial fishery is managed.

"We don't know exactly if they are fishing sustainably or not, if they are making a huge impact on the ecosystem or not. These are the problems related to the status of their resources. Then there are social aspects: social security and food security. They live in a sort of shadow, I would say."

Win-win solutions

"In the Mediterranean, most of the stocks are overfished. The point is that if we want to reduce this impact, we have to understand the way small-scale fishers are fishing, in order to understand how to limit the impact and improve the status of biodiversity.

There are alternatives to fishing — like pescatourism, like opening restaurants, and understanding how to fish in a different way
Marco Costantini
Fisheries Project Manager, WWF Mediterranean Program Office

"It would mean fishing better and potentially fishing less. Yes, fishing less, but ensuring a good livelihood for the fishers. There are alternatives to fishing — like pescatourism, like opening restaurants, and understanding how to fish in a different way — for example, making the nets and the way they fish more selective is a way to reduce their impact.

"So it's within this interaction that we create win-win solutions in which fishers are getting more from the way they fish, and we can get a reduction of the impact on the ecosystem."