Crowd-Sourcing Meets Small-Scale Fisheries

Small-scale fisheries occur throughout the world, in fresh and marine waters of developed and developing nations. Often not subject to the same level of recording and reporting as larger industrial fisheries, particularly in developing nations, our understanding of small-scale fisheries is hampered by scattered and incomplete information.

Small fishing community in Cadiz City, Philippines. Credit  Brian Evans/Flickr  (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Small fishing community in Cadiz City, Philippines. Credit Brian Evans/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Estimates from scientists such as fishery biologist Professor Daniel Pauly (University of British Columbia) suggests around 90 per cent of the global capture-fishery workforce is employed in small-scale fishers, with an annual catch directed for human consumption similar to that produced by industrial fisheries. Regardless of the figures, small-scale fisheries are more likely to provide essential subsistence and livelihood opportunities in remote communities.


The knowledge-gaps on small-scale fisheries are many – fishing techniques, governance, challenges faced, and so forth. Addressing these knowledge-gap has implications for economic, social, and environmental sustainability of small-scale fisheries, and issues surrounding equitable use and food security.

Enter the Information System on Small-Scale Fisheries (ISSF) – the "first interactive global repository on small-scale fisheries, providing information on key characteristics of this sector in various locations around the world, as well as synthesized knowledge about their importance, contributions and potentials".

ISSF is the brainchild of research network and knowledge mobilization partnership Too Big to Ignore (TBTI). At its heart ISSF is a crowd-sourcing platform (similar to Wikipedia), in which knowledgeable people such as researchers, fishery managers, and fishery organizations can create and update ‘records’ on small-scale fisheries.

This article was written for (and can be read in full at) The Fish Site.