Fisheries Development

Fisheries development is the process of achieving the full potential of the fishery sector and includes both eco-biological as well as technological and socio-economic dimensions such as ethical considerations.

A fishery may be regarded as being developed if the biomass of the target stock is being fished down to its optimal size (corresponding to its maximum biological productivity) or if efforts are being made to restore it to its optimal level. In the latter case, though, the terms "fisheries rehabilitation" or "stock rebuilding" are preferably used. However, fisheries development may not necessarily involve any prospect of an increase in the size of the harvest.

The focus of development trends and activities may be directed towards improving the well-being of the people engaged in the fisheries sector which, in addition to fishers, includes processors, traders, and others directly working in, and dependent on, the sector.

As the full potential of wild fisheries resources has been achieved - and often "lost" through overfishing - the main objective and emphasis in capture fisheries development strategies has changed from increasing harvest (an objective during the first three quarters of the last century) to establishing a more sustainable and optimal use of the available fisheries resources (particularly since UNCED in 1992). The same path has been followed by aquaculture where development from the 1950s to the 1990s emphasized technology development, intensification, and larger harvests . Concern for environmental management and sustainability appeared essentially during the 1990s.

For centuries, open access was the norm in capture fisheries. Fishers regarded catching whatever they wished or could as a right available to everyone. It is now widely recognized that limiting and striclty controlling the harvesting of wild fish is essential for sustainability. Similarly, for aquaculture, a shift is occuring towards more area-based management, particularly for water management and disease control. This means that effective and ecosystem-based management of marine fisheries and aquaculture is essential to achieving long-term development of fisheries.