Primary fisheries management: a minimum requirement forprovision of sustainable human benefits in small-scalefisheries
The social and economic importance of small-scale fisheries is frequently under-valued, and they are rarely effectively managed. There is now growing consensus onhow these fisheries could be managed for sustainability and to minimize the risks ofcrossing undesirable thresholds. Using a concept developed in health care, theseapproaches have been referred to as primary fisheries management. By encouragingthe use of best-available information in a precautionary way, the approaches willfacilitate sustainable use and should therefore be encouraged, but they accept highscientific and implementation uncertainties as unavoidable because of limitedmanagement and enforcement resources and capacity. It is important to recognizethat this limitation will result in social costs, because application of a precautionaryapproach in the face of high uncertainties will require forgoing potential sustainablebenefits. Acceptance of primary fisheries management as a final and sufficient goalcould therefore add a further constraint on the possibility of fishing communitiesescaping the poverty trap. Primary fisheries management should be seen as a first andminimum target for fisheries where there is currently no or inadequate management,but the longer-term goal should still be well informed and adaptive management thatstrives for optimal benefits, referred to here as tertiary management.