Tropical coastal fisheries provide an important source of food and employment for some of the world's poorest people. However, they present particular problems for management, due to the dispersed nature of fishing communities, the multi-gear, multi-species nature of the fisheries, and the fact that data and resources for management are frequently limited.
Conventional stock assessment methods are typically complex and have high data requirements. They have also been developed principally for temperate species, and are not directly applicable to tropical fish. Furthermore, these methods often fail to account for the complex social and economic characteristics of artisanal fisheries. To date, appropriate solutions for the sustainable management of tropical coastal fisheries have been lacking.
The project conducted a strategic assessment of tropical fisheries management, through evaluating the relevant research methods for the development of tropical fisheries assessment models, and the utility of existing strategies for the implementation of management advice.
The desk-based study comprised three components. Firstly, a detailed socio-economic assessment of management instruments and strategies applicable to tropical capture fisheries was conducted. Secondly, an assessment of the fisheries for tropical large marine ecosystems (LMEs) was conducted, using a technique developed by FAO, and FAO published statistics. Finally, two simple approaches for estimating the potential yield and stock status of a fisheries resource from life history parameters were developed.
The project successfully conducted a strategic review and assessment of fishery and socio-economic models, and drew conclusions on appropriate management solutions for tropical coastal fisheries. The necessity for the socio-economic motivations of fishers to be understood, and for fisher behaviour to be the focus of management efforts, was highlighted.
The analysis of catch statistics by tropical large marine ecosystem, using FAO-developed techniques, indicated that 28% of LMEs could be classified as developing, and that there may be potential for increased production from these. However, the analysis was based on various assumptions, and imprecise data, and these conclusions should be treated with caution.
Two simple approaches for estimating potential yield and stock status from life history parameters were successfully developed. The parameters required for either approach (for example, growth parameters, and length at maturity) are well within the capacity of fisheries institutions in developing countries to assess, and thus these simple approaches should provide a relatively robust basis for assessment for management.