Small-Scale Fisheries Policy Reforms

Providing specific legal guidance can contribute to streamlining the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication. For this purpose, the ELI-Ocean Program research team, with support from the Oak Foundation and in partnership with Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), is carrying out a project to identify effective avenues to achieve comprehensive policy reforms of small-scale fisheries (SSF) and develop detailed governance roadmaps for strengthening rule of law in coastal fisheries management. Specifically, the project seeks to identify effective legal tools and approaches for the implementation of the following six policy recommendations from the Voluntary Guidelines:

• Tenure rights for small-scale fishing;

• Creation/enforcement of exclusive zones for small-scale fisheries;

• Participatory management systems and co-management;

• Effective monitoring/enforcement mechanisms to deter, prevent and eliminate illegal and/or destructive fishing practices;

• Introduction of fisheries management regulations as conservation tools, in accordance with co-management frameworks; and

• Implement spatial management, including marine spatial planning.

First, the project team conducted an in-depth regulatory analysis of a selection of cases of successful implementation of the six policy recommendations above.

Second, the project team developed a Law and Governance Toolkit for Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, published in December 2020. The Toolkit focuses on implementing successful institutional, governance, and legal approaches that are supported by both SSF policy research and regulatory practice. Working with PGA’s global network of parliamentarians, the project provides specific guidance to policymakers and will help disseminate knowledge on how to address the challenges to sustainable SSF, while establishing a roadmap for legal implementation of the FAO Guidelines.

To learn more about the Toolkit, please see our brief video introduction below:

More information can also be found in the detailed project summary available here. If you have further questions, please email Xiao Recio-Blanco, Sofia O’Connor, and Jessie Sugarman at,, and