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Artisanal Fisheries Research Network


IGERT students have created a collaborative research group to facilitate knowledge sharing and interdisciplinary research in artisanal fisheries.

Artisanal fisheries are small-scale fisheries for subsistence or local, small markets, generally using traditional fishing techniques and small boats. They occur around the world (particularly in developing nations) and are vital to livelihoods and food security. Collectively, these fisheries catch about 30 million tons of fish for human consumption annually (the same amount as commercial fisheries), and an estimated 150 million people directly depend on these fisheries for protein and income.

Artisanal fisheries have a significant, negative impact on marine ecosystems – overfishing, damage to coral reefs and mangroves, and the deliberate or accidental capture of marine megafauna. Because many artisanal fishers depend on the health of marine ecosystems for their subsistence, these impacts not only threaten biodiversity, but human well-being as well.

However, we only have very limited information on these fisheries ? we need more data on what they catch, how much they catch, and the underlying socioeconomic and cultural drivers. The limited infrastructure in many developing nations for research, management, and monitoring, and the inherently decentralized nature of artisanal fisheries, pose significant research challenges. Given the increase in artisanal fishing effort with increasing population pressures, increasing understanding of artisanal fisheries is an emerging priority for marine conservation.

Address Goals

This activity exemplifies the need for interdisciplinary research and collaboration. Understanding and managing artisanal fisheries effectively requires (1) effective collaboration and communication across disciplines and research projects, and (2) cooperation with artisanal fishing communities. We need to understand the ecology of impacted marine ecosystems and to quantitatively and scientifically assess the extent and nature of the impacts. To truly move forward to effectively mitigate these impacts, we need to study the socioeconomic and cultural forces that underly these fisheries.