FishPath is being applied across the globe, both led by The Nature Conservancy, NOAA, CSIRO, and other members of the FishPath Network. FishPath case studies range from full FishPath engagements with a series of multiple workshops to trainings on the use of the FishPath tool.
where we work
© Paul Stickland
New South Wales (NSW), the central eastern state of Australia, manages a range of coastal fisheries. The annual total value of NSW wild harvest commercial fisheries is approximately AUS$90 million at first point of sale. The wider seafood industry generates close to AUS$370 million of economic activity each year, employing more than 3,500 people. Simultaneously, the NSW recreational fishing industry generates about AUS$3.4 billion annually. Despite implementing a catch quota system in 2019, NSW fisheries management is not underpinned by formal harvest strategies.
Following a series of introductory workshops and FishPath webinars to NSW fishery managers and broader stakeholders, a dedicated workshop was held in early 2019 to apply FishPath to identify harvest strategy options for a beach-based, intertidal fishery: Beachworms and Pipis (small bivalves) Estuarine General Hand Gathering fishery. Via a series of workshops and core group intersessional work, CSIRO is now partnering with NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries to provide expert, context-specific guidance in the development of harvest strategies using the FishPath process and tool. We aim to build capacity in data-limited fishery stock assessment and deliver implementation ready fishery harvest strategies for a range of NSW DPI Fisheries. The key issues in NSW fisheries are less around data limitation, and more a lack of formal guidance to develop tailored harvest strategies for multiple gears and sectors (including the important recreational sector), especially given that many target species are cross-jurisdictional.
© Jeff Yonover
Watch our short video: Bahamian Queen Conch - Fishers and Scientists Share Knowledge for a Sustainable Fishery
Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas) is an important source of income for Bahamian communities, a staple in local diets, and is important to cultural identity. However, overfishing and habitat degradation undermines the sustainability of the conch fishery throughout the country. Surveys of abundance throughout the Bahamas suggest declines in conch stocks, threatening the health of the marine ecosystem and livelihoods of thousands of fishers.
The Nature Conservancy and its partners, The Bahamas Department of Marine Resources and The Royal Bahamas Defence Force, have been working together to apply the FishPath process to Queen Conch since late 2017. After a foundational step of using the FishPath tool in a multi-stakeholder setting, the Conservancy specifically focused on engaging fishers to hear and document their voices regarding the feasibility of management measures and proposed actions facing the fishery. One of the key bottlenecks identified was a lack of information on determining mature Queen Conch and ensuring that mature individuals can remain in the water to reproduce and maintain a healthy population. To address this challenge and inform the development of improved management measures, the Conservancy began hosting educational engagements with conch fishermen and conch scientists during 2019 about conch biology and maturity. A shared understanding of shell characteristics that indicate maturity, such as shell length and lip thickness, will support both fishermen and fishery managers in ensuring a sustainable fishery. Combined with data analyses with partners at NOAA Fisheries, next steps for the Conservancy and Bahamian stakeholders involve the development and testing of an adaptive fishery management plan.
Fisheries are an essential economic driver for almost every coastal community in Chile, a country with an extremely productive coastal zone that forms part of the Humboldt Current, one of the world’s richest upwelling systems. While Chile is known as a pioneer in developing co-management approaches for nearshore marine resources targeted by artisanal fishermen, overfishing and illegal fishing continue to be a threat to the sustainability of small-scale fisheries and marine ecosystems. The Conservancy is collaborating with government agencies, local fishing communities, academics, local NGOs and other stakeholders to apply FishPath to small-scale fisheries across the country.
In partnership with the Instituto de Fomento Pesquero (IFOP), the Conservancy and partners began applying the FishPath process to the coastal finfish, Vieja Negra (Graus nigra), a species of importance to small-scale and recreational fishers and kelp forests in the central and northern regions of Chile. Through this first FishPath engagement in the country, main challenges to develop and adopt a management plan for Vieja negra, and coastal finfish overall, were identified. To understand the fisheries legal setting for implementing management actions for unmanaged coastal finfish and address challenges in data limitations, data organization exercises and legal analyses were performed and informed by multi-stakeholder workshops. Next steps involve continuing to evaluate the Vieja Negra status through a suite of data-limited assessments supported by expert judgement, and explore options for developing and implementing management measures at the national level. In addition, the Conservancy is currently exploring the application of FishPath to other fisheries in Chile, such as blue and mako sharks, with communities, local NGOs, and university and government partners.
© Peter French
Coral reefs and associated reef fishes of Hawai‘i provide invaluable cultural and ecological benefits for nature and people. The nearshore fisheries of Ka‘ūpūlehu and Kūkiʻo, located on the western side of the island of Hawai‘i, have been a sustainable source of sustenance to the people of these lands for several hundred years. In recent years, concern for the health of the coastal ecosystem has stimulated a desire to ensure long-term conservation for these resources and prompted the formation of the Ka‘ūpūlehu Marine Life Advisory Committee (KMLAC), tasked with involving community members in efforts to oversee and effectively manage marine and anchialine pond resources within the Ka‘ūpūlehu ahupua‘a and Uluweuweu Bay.
In August 2018, The Conservancy and KMLAC convened scientists, fishermen, natural resource managers, educators, cultural practitioners, members of fisheries-focused NGOs, staff from the Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) and Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), and Conservancy staff to begin the development of a comprehensive Subsistence Fishing Plan using the FishPath process that conserves the marine resources of Ka‘ūpūlehu while ensuring sustainable subsistence use and soundly managed take in a changing climate. The stakeholder group is using FishPath to co-develop an adaptive ecosystem-based fisheries management plan that includes all culturally, ecologically and economically important fish and invertebrate species in this area. Through applying the FishPath process, the group broadly aims to demonstrate a successful process for co-development of adaptive, ecosystem-based fisheries management plans that can be scaled to additional communities throughout the islands.
© Kevin Arnold
Indonesia contains some of the most diverse marine habitats and richest fishing grounds in the world. Its many islands and high water to land ratio makes management a distinct challenge. A large number of stocks across a large area, combined with limited technical capacity, poses an intense challenge to the development and implementation of science-based fisheries management. The FishPath tool was first introduced to colleagues in Indonesia through a stock assessment training in 2017. A subsequent FishPath engagement in 2018 led by NOAA Fisheries brought together scientists, managers and NGOs representing national and provincial levels of governance throughout Fishery Management Area 715 for the first time ever.
Additional applications of the FishPath process and tool have focused specifically on provincial fisheries in West Papua and on nationally-led stock assessments for snappers. In West Papua, NOAA scientists are working with Indonesian colleagues toward establishing the first fishery management plan in Indonesia, and one in its poorest region, to empower local authorities to ensure sustainable catch in anchovies for local villagers who have recently seen diminished livelihood opportunities because of much of the industrial anchovy fisheries diverting catch to provide bait for the tuna fisheries. There is hope this fishery management plan can become a template for the rest of the country. At the national level, the goal of the FishPath process in the mixed-stock snapper fishery is to stabilize fish populations vulnerable to overfishing. In Indonesia, FishPath has been an organizational tool that has repeatedly been used as data collection, assessment, and management options have been critiqued and formulated for the specific needs of each fishery examined.
© Nick Hall
© Carlos Aguilera
The region of the Gulf of California and the Mexican Pacific harbors incredible biological diversity and represents more than 70% of national fishery production. Despite this importance, only one in ten fisheries are managed sustainably, demonstrating the importance of focusing on the remaining fisheries in need of management improvement, conducting stock assessments, and implementing responsive harvest strategies. One of the challenges lies in limited resources for fisheries management, of which a majority are directed towards industrial or larger scale fisheries, which are important for export markets. However, it is important to recognize the vital role that artisanal fisheries play in Mexico; more than 250,000 fishers depend directly on this activity and this sector represents more than 23% of national fishery production.
In order to improve management of small-scale coastal fisheries, a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, the Instituto Nacional de Pesca y Acuacultura (INAPESCA), and the Comisión Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca (CONAPESCA) was established in 2017 to apply the FishPath engagement process to the Huachinango fishery (Lutjanus peru). The Conservancy and partners used the FishPath tool to understand the current setting and challenges of the Huachinango fishery, and begin the selection process of appropriate data collection, assessment, and management measure options. A technical sub-group from the Mexican government agencies, with support from the Conservancy, is currently executing trainings and capacity-building workshops dedicated to fishery data organization and data-limited assessments. Next steps include the development and implementation of standardized data collection protocols, as well as the use of FishPath process results, to support the management plan for huachinango and overall effective management of the fishery. Furthermore, the Conservancy is exploring the application of FishPath to other fisheries in Mexico.
Artisanal fisheries in Peru are incredibly important to the nation’s domestic seafood supply, health of marine ecosystems, and economies of coastal communities. Because of this, The Nature Conservancy has been working across diverse fisheries in Peru to apply FishPath in collaboration with the Instituto del Mar del Perú (IMARPE) and local fishing communities.
In collaboration with IMARPE, the Conservancy and partners applied the FishPath engagement process to the Chita fishery or Peruvian grunt (Anisotremus scapularis) in 2015. This is one the species of concern that IMARPE identified as in need of management reform. Over a two-year period, the Conservancy and Peruvian partners used the FishPath process and tool to select the monitoring actions, stock assessment options, and decision rules applicable to the Chita fishery. During this period the team also completed suitable data-limited assessment approaches identified by FishPath, and considered the associated management regulations that may be implemented to better collect and utilize fishery information. One of the implemented management actions was an annual closed season from 1-31 December, now adopted by Peru’s Ministry of Production (PRODUCE). Continuing the collaborative work with Peruvian partners, the Conservancy and IMARPE are continuing to apply the FishPath process for additional species of concern, including lenguado (Paralichthys adspersus), shark species including Shortfin Mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) and Blue shark (Prionace glauca), and Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides), among others. each involving IMARPE and other fishery stakeholders. In addition, as part of this collaboration, IMARPE and TNC have been implementing a series of workshops to contribute to strengthening technical capacities for implementation of data-limited stock assessments, aimed at fishery scientists. In addition, TNC continues to collaborate with artisanal fishing communities of Ancón to apply FishPath in the design of community-based management strategies for rockfish and benthic resources.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) is tasked with writing fishery management plans for state managed rockfish. In late 2019, the FishPath Tool was applied by the data stewards, scientists, biologist and managers to begin this daunting task. This overall team first divided into small groups, with each group walking through all three Tool questionnaires separately. The small groups then joined together to compare and ultimately settle on answers, documenting any discrepancies and nuances. Any lingering questions were flagged, with FishPath experts at NOAA Fisheries providing clarification through remote meetings. These questionnaires primarily allowed the researchers to identify which stock assessments methods to investigate further or work toward in the future, as well as which management measures were best suited for their management system. It also identified where data collection could be improved. In early 2020, ADFG has now organized and moved forward on its next steps through FishPath by preparing data, conducting stock assessments, and developing control rules. Within the next year, the agency hopes to have fully realized fishery management plans, stock assessments and control rules, with outlined next steps.
© Luis Gustavo Cardoso
Along the coast of Southern Brazil, industrial and artisanal catches targeting demersal fishes have been declining gradually since the 1980s, largely due to lack of an effective management strategy combined with a weak enforcement system, which has led to high fishing effort. The FishPath tool was used to support a decision process of selecting management measures options across an area of 13,700 km² within the territorial sea along the coast of Rio Grande do Sul State (RS), during the initial phases of a broader effort. After the initial tool application and several subsequent stakeholder meetings and data analyses, a ban on bottom trawling, which includes vast bycatch of undersized fish and endangered species, was proposed within the 12 nautical miles (territorial sea) along the RS coast. A follow-up study on the potential impacts of a bottom trawl ban was conducted and showed that each discarded ton of small fish of the four key species would produce 3 tons of fish at commercial size after one year and 10 tons after two years, resulting in potential revenues of ca. US$9 million for the fishing sector and government coffers through associated taxes, as well as benefit an estimated 22 endangered fish species. The results of this study were essential in gaining public support for the bottom trawling ban, which was approved and published as a Decree by the government of RS in 2018.
© David Hills
Fitzgerald et al. (2018): Detecting a need for improved management in a data-limited crab fishery.
The small-scale, data-limited Southern California Rock Crab fishery targets multiple species, including red (Metacarcinus or Cancer productus), yellow (Metacarcinus (formerly C.) anthonyi), and brown (Romaleon antennarium (formerly C. antennarius)) rock crab. Although economically valuable, the fishery has never been formally assessed and has exhibited rapid fishery growth in recent years that may be leading to overfishing. The fishery is currently managed through a state-wide size limit and restriction of the number of fishing permits, but little information is available on the efficacy of these controls or life history information. The assessment section of the FishPath tool was used to identify a suite of data-limited stock assessment approaches best suited for the available information and conditions of the fishery. Assessment results collectively indicated symptoms of serial depletion (Fitzgerald et al. 2018). The results may be utilized by managers and fishery stakeholders to provide the critical scientific foundation for management in the California Rock Crab fishery.
© Mwangi Kirubi
Blog Post: Steering a New Course for Kenya's Fisheries
Small-scale coastal fisheries in Kenya target many species that are important for coastal biodiversity and form the basis of local livelihoods. However, there is often limited data and capacity for monitoring and managing these important coastal resources, such as spiny lobster, coastal finfish, and octopus. During the development of the conceptual framework that underpins FishPath, under the auspices of SNAPP, the FishPath tool was tested and refined through a pilot case study in Kenya, focused on lobster and reef fish, with the engagement and support of local fishery scientists, NGOs, and fisheries managers. Moving forward, the use of FishPath process is planned to continue in lobster and start in octopus fisheries led by TNC together with local partners, government agencies, and CSIRO and supported by scientists from NOAA.
© Jason Houston
The Republic of Seychelles has one of the highest per capita rates of fish consumption in the world. The Seychelles fishing sector constitutes ~17% of total formal employment, while exports of fish and fish products represent ~95% of the total merchandise exported in Seychelles. The Seychelles marine ecosystem has been compromised by increasing human pressures, including overfishing. Several fisheries have collapsed, prompting the government to take stronger actions to ensure Seychellois fisheries remain sustainable. Fisheries management is currently limited by insufficient legal and institutional frameworks, human capacity, and infrastructure. In late 2017, an MOU was signed between the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) and CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, to encourage joint research activities including in fisheries stock assessments and harvest strategy development. In early 2019. the SFA and CSIRO, held an initial FishPath workshop in Victoria, Seychelles, to demonstrate the use of the FishPath tool. During this first exposure to FishPath in Seychelles, progress was made towards developing a draft harvest strategy for the lobster fishery. The positive feedback and interest from SFA and local partners and the fishing sector have helped paved the way for continuation of the refinement of a harvest strategy for lobster and a broader series of FishPath engagements in the country led by CSIRO, TNC and NOAA Fisheries in collaboration with local partners.
Learn more about the Organización de Productores Pesqueros 72 (OPP-72)
Throughout the Gulf of Cadiz in southwestern Spain, the Bocinegro (Pagrus pagrus) fishery is economically and culturally important. The community of Conil de la Frontera (Conil), is responsible for approximately 64% of the total annual bocinegro catches in the Gulf of Cadiz region. Despite the development and enforcement of self-regulations, traceability platforms, and marketing measures by the Organization of Fishery Producers (Organización de Productores Pesqueros 72; OPP-72) of Conil, the fishery is limited by a lack of scientific and fleet information. The FishPath process was applied through a collaborative project with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The project sought to explore how tools, such as FishPath and the Data-Limited Methods Toolkit, can help move data-limited fisheries along a path towards certification. During the FishPath process, diverse participants, including representatives from OPP-72, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, and local non-profit organizations, collaboratively used the FishPath tool to identify appropriate data collection, assessment, and management options for the Bocinegro fishery.