Mobilizing in support of small-scale fisheries impacted by COVID-19

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly spread around the world with extensive social and economic effects for the small-scale fisheries sector and coastal communities. Much of the news is dismal for the more than 100 million people working as small-scale fishers or in post-harvest jobs. Documented negative consequences have included complete shut-downs, market disruptions, increased health risks, further marginalization, exacerbated vulnerabilities, and increased illegal fishing. Some positive outcomes have also emerged such as food sharing, the revival of local food networks, increases in local sales, collective actions to safeguard rights, collaborations between communities and governments, and reduced fishing pressure in some places. Yet, we are concerned that the collective response thus far is insufficient to meet the scale and nature of the impacts that are being experienced by the small-scale fisheries sector. Thus, we urge governments, development organizations, NGOs, donors, the private sector, and researchers to rapidly mobilize in support of small-scale fishers and coastal fishing communities

Actions to support small-scale fisheries during and after COVID-19

Recommendations: Suggested responses include:

  1. Governments and development organizations can protect workers, safeguard supply chains, augment social and health services, provide economic relief, and prioritize re-opening small-scale fisheries.
  2. NGOs can aggregate insights, mobilize financial resources and personnel, support market development, advocate for SSFs, and coordinate activities.
  3. Donors can identify options to support, re-orient funding programs, be flexible with already allocated funds, and target funds to support SSF.
  4. The private sector can protect the safety of workers, strengthen social safeguards, source from SSFs, and ensure market access.
  5. Researchers can research social impacts, identify solutions, communicate recommendations, support advocacy, and re-orient research projects and funds.

 

KEY MESSAGE

The COVID-19 pandemic is having substantial impacts on the small-scale fisheries sector globally. Thus, we urge governments, development organizations, NGOs, donors, the private sector, and researchers to rapidly mobilize in support of small-scale fishers and coastal fishing communities.

 

*For more information, please refer to the following open access paper: Bennett, N. J., Finkbeiner, E., Ban, N. C., Belhabib, D., Jupiter, S. D., Kittinger, J. N., Mangubhai, S., Scholtens, J., Gill, D., & Christie, P. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic, small-scale fisheries and coastal fishing communities. Coastal Management. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08920753.2020.1766937

A PDF of this Policy Brief can be found here: POLICY BRIEF – Mobilizing in support of small-scale fisheries impacted by COVID-19

If you have any questions, please contact me.

 

New Paper in Nature Sustainability: Towards a sustainable and equitable blue economy

A global group of collaborators and I just published a new paper in Nature Sustainability titled “Towards a sustainable and equitable blue economy“.

In this paper, we argue that “The global rush to develop the ‘blue economy’ risks harming both the marine environment and human wellbeing. Bold policies and actions are urgently needed. We identify five priorities to chart a course towards an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable blue economy.”

Figure 1 - Economic development in the oceans

Our five recommendations, which are summarized in our press release, include:

 

  • Establishing a global coordinating body and develop international guidelines;
  • Ensuring national policies and institutions safeguard sustainability;
  • Promoting equitable sharing of benefits and minimization of harms;
  • Employing inclusive governance and decision-making processes; and
  • Engaging with insights from interdisciplinary ocean science.

 

Read the paper here: rdcu.be/bUfM8

Accompanying press release: Achieving a safe and just future for the ocean economy

Five Steps to Achieve a Safe & Just Future Ocean Economy

Policy Brief: Marine Social Science and Ocean Sustainability

Figure 1 - The coastal margin

Around the world, the marine and coastal environment is occupied, used and relied on by coastal communities, small-scale fishers, and Indigenous peoples.

Background: Marine protected areas, marine spatial planning, fisheries management, climate adaptation and economic development activities are increasing across the world’s oceans. Coastal communities, indigenous peoples, and small-scale fishers also occupy, use and rely on the ocean and coastal environment for livelihoods, for sustenance, and for wellbeing. An understanding of the human dimensions of the peopled seas is required to make informed marine policy and management decisions. A diverse set of social science disciplines, methods, and theories can be applied to rigorously study the human dimensions of ocean and coastal issues and challenges. Insights from the marine social sciences include:

  1. Documenting the social context (eg, uses, benefits, values, rights, knowledge, culture) to inform planning and management;
  2. Characterizing and evaluating the appropriateness and effectiveness of governance processes and management actions;
  3. Assessing the impacts of conservation, management or development activities on coastal economics and human well-being; and,
  4. Identifying the social and institutional factors that influence people’s behaviours, actions or responses to identify effective interventions.

The marine social sciences must be part of the mandate and investments of national and international ocean science, policy and sustainability initiatives. Yet, marine social science often receives limited attention and investments from ocean-focused government agencies, NGOs and funders.

 

Recommendations: Recommended actions include:

  1. Policy-makers, managers and practitioners need to account for the human dimensions in all marine conservation, marine planning, fisheries management and ocean development decisions.
  2. Governments should ensure that ocean-focused laws, policies and planning processes require the consideration of social, cultural, economic and governance considerations.
  3. National and international ocean science and sustainability initiatives, such as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), must include social science in their mandates and investments.
  4. Financial support is needed from ocean-focused government agencies, multi-lateral organizations, NGOs and funders for capacity, programs and infrastructure to enable applied and policy-relevant marine social science research.

 

KEY MESSAGES

The pursuit of sustainable oceans must be informed by insights from the marine social sciences.

Recent years have seen significant growth in conservation, management and development activities in the ocean. Coastal communities, indigenous peoples, and small-scale fishers also occupy and rely on the ocean for livelihoods, for subsistence, and for wellbeing. Thus, an understanding of the human dimensions is required to make evidence-based decisions across marine policy realms. Greater support for marine social science programs and capacity are needed from ocean-focused government agencies, NGOs, and funders.

 

A PDF Version of this Policy Brief is available here: Policy Brief – Marine Social Science and Ocean Sustainability

For more information regarding this topic, see the following paper: N Bennett (2019), Marine Social Science for the Peopled Seas, Coastal Management, 47(2), 244-252. (Link)

 

Contact: Dr. Nathan Bennett (linkis the Chair of the People and the Ocean Specialist Group of the Commission on Ecological, Economic and Social Policy of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (link) and the Principal Investigator of The Peopled Seas Initiative.

New Paper – Navigating a just and inclusive path towards sustainable oceans

I just published a new paper in Marine Policy titled “Navigating a just and inclusive path towards sustainable oceans” (link to paper). This agenda setting paper argues that the ocean science, practitioner, governance and funding communities need to pay greater attention to justice and inclusion across key ocean policy realms including marine conservation, fisheries management, marine spatial planning, the blue economy, climate adaptation and global ocean governance.

Reference: N.J. Bennett, Navigating a just and inclusive path towards sustainable oceans, Marine Policy. (2018). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2018.06.001

Abstract: The ocean is the next frontier for many conservation and development activities. Growth in marine protected areas, fisheries management, the blue economy, and marine spatial planning initiatives are occurring both within and beyond national jurisdictions. This mounting activity has coincided with increasing concerns about sustainability and international attention to ocean governance. Yet, despite growing concerns about exclusionary decision-making processes and social injustices, there remains inadequate attention to issues of social justice and inclusion in ocean science, management, governance and funding. In a rapidly changing and progressively busier ocean, we need to learn from past mistakes and identify ways to navigate a just and inclusive path towards sustainability. Proactive attention to inclusive decision-making and social justice is needed across key ocean policy realms including marine conservation, fisheries management, marine spatial planning, the blue economy, climate adaptation and global ocean governance for both ethical and instrumental reasons. This discussion paper aims to stimulate greater engagement with these critical topics. It is a call to action for ocean-focused researchers, policy-makers, managers, practitioners, and funders.

What is Environmental Stewardship?: New Open Access Review Paper

Environmental stewardship is a valuable and holistic concept for guiding productive and sustained relationships with the environment. A group of colleagues and I have just published a new open access paper in the journal Environmental Management titled: “Environmental Stewardship: A conceptual review and analytical framework“. In this paper, we define local environmental stewardship as “the actions taken by individuals, groups or networks of actors, with various motivations and levels of capacity, to protect, care for or responsibly use the environment in pursuit of environmental and/or social outcomes in diverse social–ecological contexts.” We review the literature to provide a framework to guide analysis of local environmental stewardship initiatives in diverse contexts and situations.

Environmental stewardship

Abstract: There has been increasing attention to and investment in local environmental stewardship in conservation and environmental management policies and programs globally. Yet environmental stewardship has not received adequate conceptual attention. Establishing a clear definition and comprehensive analytical framework could strengthen our ability to understand the factors that lead to the success or failure of environmental stewardship in different contexts and how to most effectively support and enable local efforts. Here we propose such a definition and framework. First, we define local environmental stewardship as the actions taken by individuals, groups or networks of actors, with various motivations and levels of capacity, to protect, care for or responsibly use the environment in pursuit of environmental and/or social outcomes in diverse social–ecological contexts. Next, drawing from a review of the environmental stewardship, management and governance literatures, we unpack the elements of this definition to develop an analytical framework that can facilitate research on local environmental stewardship. Finally, we discuss potential interventions and leverage points for promoting or supporting local stewardship and future applications of the framework to guide descriptive, evaluative, prescriptive or systematic analysis of environmental stewardship. Further application of this framework in diverse environmental and social contexts is recommended to refine the elements and develop insights that will guide and improve the outcomes of environmental stewardship initiatives and investments. Ultimately, our aim is to raise the profile of environmental stewardship as a valuable and holistic concept for guiding productive and sustained relationships with the environment.

Reference: Bennett, N. J., Whitty, T. S., Finkbeiner, E., Pittman, J., Bassett, H., Gelcich, S., & Allison, E. H. (2018). Environmental Stewardship: A Conceptual Review and Analytical Framework. Environmental Management. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-017-0993-2 (OPEN ACCESS)