A Global Database of Tenure and Access Rights for Small-Scale Fisheries: A Preliminary Assessment

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Small-scale fisheries (SSF) provide essential protein and nutrition to billions of people worldwide, employ more than 90 percent of the world’s fishers, and account for about 40% of the global fisheries catch. Yet, their contribution to sustainable development is often overlooked and undervalued. Using data from 51 country case studies from the Illuminating Hidden Harvests (IHH) Project, the EDF Fishery Solutions Center, and a co-management database from Gutierrez, Hilborn and Defeo (2011), I compile a database of tenure and access rights in SSF, an indicator for Sustainable Development Goal 14.b to “provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.” By using a broad definition of Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries (TURFs), I explore how fishers access resources, what rules and rights govern their interactions, and if their power is de jure or de facto. This assessment reveals “new” TURFs from old systems of self-governance and finds evidence of property rights in freshwater and inland fisheries, seasonal or temporary arrangements, specific fishing methods, and familial lineages. In addition, two case studies highlight the potential benefits and challenges of declaring rights-based fisheries “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs) – a new area-based designation. The evidence presented in this study builds the case for recognizing de facto property rights as a potential means for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable development and lays the foundation for future research efforts.





Tholan, Brittany (2022). A Global Database of Tenure and Access Rights for Small-Scale Fisheries: A Preliminary Assessment. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/24863.

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