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Sustainable Fisheries and Responsible Aquaculture: A Guide for USAID Staff and Partners is Now Available

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jul 01, 2013 10:46 PM
Contributors: USAID
The guide provides information on how to design programs to reform capture fisheries and aquaculture sectors to ensure sound and effective development, environmental sustainability, economic profitability, and social responsibility.

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It is the result of collaborative efforts by the E3/Water and E3/Forestry and Biodiversity offices, together with colleagues in BFS, the University of Rhode Island/Coastal Resources Center, and the University of Hawaii at Hilo/Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center. We wish to thank the many reviewers who also provided inputs, including from Department of State, NOAA, the WorldFish Center, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund, among many others.

Investments by governments, donors, and the private sector have in many cases led to overfishing and overcapacity in fisheries sectors, environmental destruction and pollution in aquaculture, loss of biodiversity, perverse subsidies, and boom-and-bust cycles in both.  A more integrated approach to the management of these enterprises is needed to ensure ecosystem integrity. A systems approach can address the multiple dimensions of resource governance, including the enabling policies and laws, integrated coastal and water resources management, incentives to promote resource stewardship, land and sea tenure or access rights, and management at the seascape/landscape scale.

A key message of the guide is that the world cannot afford to neglect global fisheries and expect aquaculture to fill that void. Global food security will not be achievable without reversing the decline of wild stock fisheries, restoring productivity, and moving towards more environmentally friendly and responsible aquaculture. Both fisheries and aquaculture need to be reformed to reduce their environmental and social impacts.

USAID’s experience has shown that well-designed programs can successfully reform capture fisheries and aquaculture, reducing threats to biodiversity while leading to increased productivity, incomes, and livelihoods. Agency programs have focused on an ecosystem-based approach to management in conjunction with improved governance, secure tenure and access to resources, and the application of modern management practices. Such programs can easily contribute to broader development goals, including food security, adaptation to climate change, biodiversity conservation, improved governance and rule of law, poverty reduction, population and family planning, and sound economic growth.

While primarily intended for USAID staff and implementing partners, the guide should be useful to a broader audience as well.  The sections on capture fisheries focus largely on nearshore marine and inland fisheries due to the fact that in developing countries this segment of the industry is critical to the livelihoods and food security for the greatest numbers of people and who are often among the poorest and most vulnerable. The aquaculture section concentrates on reforming the sector for sustainability and social responsibility, with an emphasis on food production for the poor and the utilization of local or native species. While in practice, fisheries and aquaculture are usually addressed as separate sectors, greater attention needs to be paid to the real and potential interactions between the two sectors.

We welcome your feedback and comments on the guide at

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For more information contact:


Richard Volk



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