ICES Annual Science Conference 2023

Theme session K

Small-scale fisheries under global change – threats and opportunities

Monday 11 September
13:00–15:00 and 15:30–17:30
Room 0D

​​​​​​Small-scale fisheries (SSF) are important for food production and for local economies and culture but SSF are facing a growing number of challenges

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges as it causes changes in ecosystem functioning and fish stock productivity. Renewable energy production, environmental conservation, and tourism are increasingly in competition with SSF. Global crises, such as the present global energy shortage, threaten the profitability of SSF. 

As a consequence, SSF are facing structural changes with huge economic and social consequences for local fishing communities along the coast.

The Western Baltic example

The Western Baltic Sea is a textbook example of how overfishing in combination with climate change can cause the collapse of an entire fishery. The main target species cod and herring experienced drastic declines in stock size, resulting in large quota cuts that induced negative runaway dynamics including declining revenues, exits from the fisheries business, cooperative structures collapsing, and the loss of local infrastructure for remaining fishers. Urgency is needed. Strategies need to be developed to adapt fisheries to the effects of climate change such as lowered target species productivity and other ecosystem changes. Transformative policy instruments need to be developed and implemented to ensure that SSF and social-ecological systems have a sustainable future, a task that is likely required in many other coastal regions.

This session explores the effects of global changes on SSF from a multi-layered environmental, economic, and social perspective as a basis for developing ways to transition into a sustainable future. The session also encourages a critical debate on the multiple challenges and opportunities in ensuring healthy and resilient fishing communities and their small-scale fisheries, especially in the face of continuing climate change. 

The results of the session's contributions will be instrumental for decision-makers at the local, national, and international levels that need to address key issues related to SSF, helping to protect a sector rich in culture and tradition.​

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​Heike Sch​​​​​​wermer (Germany)
Steffen Funk (Germany)
Camilla Sguotti (Italy)
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Theme session K

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