• TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 Front Cover
 Abstract
 Introduction
 The nature of small-scale...
 Failures of traditional approaches...
 Need for FSRE-style approach to...
 Challenges in adapting an FSRE...
 Conclusion
 Reference






Group Title: relevance and applicability of FSRE methods to fisheries research and development
Title: The relevance and applicability of FSRE methods to fisheries research and development
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Title: The relevance and applicability of FSRE methods to fisheries research and development
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Abstract
        Page 1
    Introduction
        Page 1
    The nature of small-scale fisheries
        Page 2
    Failures of traditional approaches to fisheries research and development
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Need for FSRE-style approach to fisheries research and development
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Challenges in adapting an FSRE approach to small-scale fisheries
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Conclusion
        Page 10
    Reference
        Page 11
        Page 12
Full Text
















The Relevance and Applicability of FSRE Methods to Fisheries
Research and Development


by:
Kevin Veach 4-09-95








ABSTRACT



Fisheries development projects have often been planned and carried out in a centralized,

top-down fashion like many kinds of development projects. Technical interventions have been

planned with little knowledge of the local conditions and especially without awareness of local

fishers' needs and the socio-cultural factors that affect the fisheries. This approach has often

resulted in the promotion of industrialization of fisheries leading to subsequent overfishing and

conflicts over remaining resources between small-scale and industrial fishers.

The use of Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSRE) methods offers the

possibility of a better understanding of the social context of a fishery, the fishers' needs and greater

opportunity for incorporating the fishers' knowledge into site-specific solutions, but will have to

overcome several challenges of working with fisheries due to the greater social complexity of

fisheries and the nature of the resource base.



I. INTRODUCTION

FSRE is a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and solving the problems of

small-scale, resource-poor farmers. This approach grew out of the realization that Green

Revolution techniques with their emphasis on hybrid varieties, high input requirements,

centralized research and idealized research station conditions were overlooking the needs

of resource-poor farmers in favor of the more advantaged farmers. In contrast, FSRE has

focused on the needs of small-scale farmers by evolving research and extension methods

that respond to the social and environmental diversity of small farms. The typical isolation

of the researcher from the farmer and from the extension worker is overcome by use of

the "sondeo" process (Hildebrand, 1981), in which multidisciplinary teams of social

science and agriculture specialists conduct on-farm visits with the farmers to understand

their farming systems, resources, constraints, needs and priorities, and to devise on-farm

trials with them that can lead to site-specific solutions. One integrating aspect of this








ABSTRACT



Fisheries development projects have often been planned and carried out in a centralized,

top-down fashion like many kinds of development projects. Technical interventions have been

planned with little knowledge of the local conditions and especially without awareness of local

fishers' needs and the socio-cultural factors that affect the fisheries. This approach has often

resulted in the promotion of industrialization of fisheries leading to subsequent overfishing and

conflicts over remaining resources between small-scale and industrial fishers.

The use of Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSRE) methods offers the

possibility of a better understanding of the social context of a fishery, the fishers' needs and greater

opportunity for incorporating the fishers' knowledge into site-specific solutions, but will have to

overcome several challenges of working with fisheries due to the greater social complexity of

fisheries and the nature of the resource base.



I. INTRODUCTION

FSRE is a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and solving the problems of

small-scale, resource-poor farmers. This approach grew out of the realization that Green

Revolution techniques with their emphasis on hybrid varieties, high input requirements,

centralized research and idealized research station conditions were overlooking the needs

of resource-poor farmers in favor of the more advantaged farmers. In contrast, FSRE has

focused on the needs of small-scale farmers by evolving research and extension methods

that respond to the social and environmental diversity of small farms. The typical isolation

of the researcher from the farmer and from the extension worker is overcome by use of

the "sondeo" process (Hildebrand, 1981), in which multidisciplinary teams of social

science and agriculture specialists conduct on-farm visits with the farmers to understand

their farming systems, resources, constraints, needs and priorities, and to devise on-farm

trials with them that can lead to site-specific solutions. One integrating aspect of this









process is that it considers the farm first and foremost as a household livelihood system

composed of many interdependent subsystems, in contrast to considering the farm as

simply a profit-making business (Poats, et al., 1986).

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relevance and applicability of an FSRE

approach for research and development for small-scale or artisan level fisheries. Much like

the Green Revolution, fisheries development policy has stressed industrialization of

fisheries and centralized research focused on technology or fish and has tended to benefit

only the wealthier fishers. While the approach of FSRE has much to offer to improve the

well-being of fishers, it will face several major challenges in adapting itself to the unique

conditions of fisheries.


II. THE NATURE OF SMALL-SCALE FISHERIES

In fisheries, as in farming, defining "small scale" is a difficult task and the same

scale of fishing operation might be classified differently in different countries. Several of

the criteria developed by Charles (1991) point out the similarity to the nature of small

farms. According to Charles (1991): 1) the fishery is an integral part of the community

where the fishers live; 2) the fishers are highly dependent on the fishery and have few other

opportunities; 3) vessels are relatively small and individually owned; 4) the fishing

operation relies more on labor than on capital; 5) net incomes are generally low; and 6) the

techniques may be viewed as traditional or technologically backward by some. Like small-

scale farming, these small-scale fisheries are enormously important, employing nearly 90%

of the world's fishers and providing about half of the edible catch (Berkes, 1986).

The social and subsistence aspects of the fishery are especially important. Fishing is

often done by kin groups and is often part-time with fishers relying on supplemental

income. The majority of fishers do not own vessels and many do not own gear but work

for wages or a share of the catch (Smith, 1979). Part or all of the catch may go towards

family consumption. Small-scale fishers generally have low incomes compared to the









average in their countries (Smith, 1979) and are often marginalized both geographically

and socially (Cordell, 1986; Smith, 1979). This marginality grants fishers a large measure

of independence and can serve as a screen to allow them to avoid government regulation

(Cordell, 1986). In many places, informal systems of local sea tenure determine access to

the resource, but conflicts among local groups and between local groups and outsiders are

common. Thus, understanding local tenure and social systems is fundamental to

understanding small-scale fisheries.

These social aspects of small-scale fisheries are significantly determined by the

nature of the fisheries resource itself. Small-fishers usually exploit the shallower near-

shore areas that have higher biomass and that they can access with their gear and small

boats (Lampe, 1991). The extreme variability of the catch from area to area and from

season to season demands great flexibility from the fishers changing fishing gear or

locations or even shifting to land-based activities when the catch per unit effort is too low

(Lampe, 1991). In addition, some fishers will migrate to exploit migratory species. This

diversity of environments and strategies exists both between and within countries (Aguero,

1991).


III. FAILURES OF TRADITIONAL APPROACHES TO FISHERIES RESEARCH

AND DEVELOPMENT

While fisheries management in developing countries has often included the

objective of improving the well-being of small-scale fishers, this objective has frequently

lost out to objectives such as maximizing national fisheries earnings or modernizing the

fishing fleet. The actual implementation of traditional fisheries research and development

has been of limited benefit to most small-scale fishers. In this sense, the history of fisheries

research and development clearly mirrors several of the problems of traditional agricultural

research to which FSRE was a response.









As with past agricultural research and development, fisheries development has

been almost exclusively directed in a centralized fashion by national institutes with little

regional flexibility. From the 1960s through the 1980s, the research has focused on the

production technology or the fish, but, until recently, there has been very little

investigation of the social aspects of fisheries in developing countries (Aguero, 1991;

Lampe, 1991; Smith, 1979). This is especially true for the issues of fishers' culture and sea

tenure or sea rights (Cordell, 1986; Lampe, 1991). Despite the recent increase in studies

of the social aspects of fisheries, the information about small-scale fisheries in South

America, for example, is still "fragmentary" or "non-existing" because of the priority on

researching industrial fisheries (Aguero, 1991). Where the social issues and needs of

fishers have been acknowledged, the general prescription has been to form cooperatives,

even though they were shown early on to be highly failure-prone, often because they

conflicted with the existing social structures (Pollnac, 1981; Smith, 1979).

In general, the goal has been to modernize and industrialize the fishing industry.

This focus carried several consequences. Only the wealthier boat owners were able to

receive subsidized loans and thus modernize their equipment. Modem equipment is more

capital intensive, leading to increased unemployment among fishers. When cooperatives

were formed to give the poorer fishers access to credit and modem equipment, frequent

coop failure often left fishers poorer than before (Pollnac, 1981; Smith, 1979).

Industrialization of the fishing fleets thus meant less employment for fishers and increasing

stratification between boat owners and fishers (Cordell, 1986; Smith, 1979).

In addition, a frequent overcapitalization of the industrial off-shore fleet led to

severe overfishing of the pelagic species, forcing the industrial boats to fish in the inshore

waters in conflict with the small-scale fishers and often rapidly depleting the fish stocks

(Cordell, 1986; Smith, 1979). Because local sea-tenure systems were barely recognized,

much less legally protected, increasing conflicts developed in many countries between









industrial and small-scale fishers (Berkes and Kislalioglu, 1991; Cordell, 1986; Ghai and

Vivian, 1992; Johannes, 1978; Quinn and Kolis, 1991).

Finally, it has been this conflict with the more powerful, industrialized fleet,

controlled by outsiders, which has led to the degeneration of the local sea-tenure systems

in many places (Cordell, 1986; Johannes, 1978). Such traditional tenure systems function

well with local residents who are subject to community norms but break down in the face

of outsiders who can simply move on after depleting the resource (Cordell, 1986).


IV. NEED FOR AN FSRE-STYLE APPROACH TO FISHERIES RESEARCH AND

DEVELOPMENT

The problems mentioned above clearly point to the need for an approach to

fisheries research and development that, like FSRE, focuses on complex livelihood

systems and is multidisciplinary and context sensitive. First, due to the increase in both

coastal population and the rural landless population, small-scale fishing is increasing in

many countries (Smith, 1979). There is an urgent need to consider livelihood alternatives

for these people. In order to address their needs as a livelihood system, the social and

consumption aspects of fisheries as well as the biological and production aspects need to

be investigated. For example, due to overfishing, many full-time fishers become part time

in many areas. These fishers' livelihood systems are a complex combination of economic

activities, which often include fishing, hunting, farming, artisanry, shellfish gathering and

other activities. Thus, the FSRE understanding of small-scale farms as complex systems

of interdependent social and economic activities is necessary to understand small-scale

fisheries also.

Like small farmers, traditional small-scale fishers are reluctant to try innovations

with potentially high gains but with high levels of risk that may threaten their subsistence.

Therefore, potential solutions must be assessed within the context of risk of failure as is

done with adaptability in the FSRE context.









Local cultural conditions must be understood, because solutions that do not fit the

cultural context will be ignored. For example, many coops failed because they could not

provide the same flexibility and security to the fishers as did traditional relations with local

middlemen (Smith, 1979). Cultural context is especially important with respect to gender

division of labor. For example, in many locations the men fish while the women market the

catch or harvest shellfish from near-shore or reef areas, the site-specific and human-

centered focus of the "sondeo" is appropriate for collecting this kind of information.

Studies from around the world have shown that many traditional fisheries systems

have managed the resource well and for the benefit of the local people (Berkes, 1986;

Cordell, 1986; Johannes, 1798; McCay, et al., 1987; Ruddle, 1988). Traditional fishers

often have detailed knowledge of sea conditions and fish behaviors (Johannes, 1981). As

Chambers (1991) points out, where increasing population puts more pressure on natural

resources, small-scale farming systems become more complex, and the management

becomes more intensive. He further states, "As solutions become more complexly linked

to other farm activities and become recognized as more location specific, the need for

using farmers' knowledge increases" (Chambers, 1991). The FSRE participatory, on-site

approach to diagnosis and solution generation is thus of extreme relevance to small-scale

fisheries development.

In the past, the technological, biological, and social issues facing small-scale

fisheries were treated as if they were separate and were researched only within their

disciplines (Smith, 1979). Increasingly, many fisheries experts are recognizing the need for

a multidisciplinary approach to the problems of small-scale fisheries. As Aguero (1991, p.

233) states, "In Latin America as in other regions, small-scale fisheries research

encompasses a wide variety of issues, disciplines and problems. Research on the

complexities of fisheries and their natural environment requires the concurrence of several

disciplinary approaches. Moreover, it is well recognized now that this concurrence of

various disciplines should ideally be simultaneous or inter-disciplinary." The









multidisciplinary approach of FSRE to all phases of rural research and development work

would be well matched to these needs.

Finally, the environmental and cultural diversity of small-scale fisheries calls for the

kind of flexible and site-specific approach that is integral to FSRE methods. Since fish

species and their behaviors change from location to location and from season to season,

no generalized solution, even to the problem ofjust catching fish, will work everywhere.

When the variability of livelihood strategies is also acknowledged, it becomes clear that

solutions to the interdependent problems of small-scale fisheries must be considered with a

very site-specific perspective.


V. CHALLENGES IN ADAPTING AN FSRE APPROACH TO SMALL-SCALE

FISHERIES

Adapting FSRE to fisheries will face several challenges related to the complexity

of the resource base and the social organization of fishers. These challenges will affect all

phases of the FSRE process, from description and diagnosis of problems to dissemination

of solutions. One major difference between fisheries and farming systems is that the fishing

areas are not controlled or worked by households but rather by larger social groups such

as kin groups or communities. This will require FSRE to shift from its traditional

household focus to include collective decision-making and policy.

As mentioned above, this social analysis will require examination of local sea-

tenure systems, intercommunity conflicts, cultural and ethnic factors and gender division

of labor. This greater need to address issues at the community level poses one of the major

challenges to extending an FSRE approach to fisheries. This is because FSRE has typically

been confined to decisions at the individual farm level, due to the constraints of the

institutions within which FSRE practitioners work (Bottrall and John, 1992). However, as

pointed out by Bottrall and John (1992), solutions in common-property contexts such as

group-managed fisheries will require FSRE to add new research techniques to its









repertoire and carry out "action research" jointly with other agencies involved in

community organization.

Likewise, FSRE must expand its scope to address the policy level. Small-scale

fisheries exist in a political context that favors industrial fisheries and often harms small-

scale inshore fisheries. Where traditional forms of sea tenure exist, they can form the basis

for limiting access to the inshore fisheries resource to enhance the security of local fishers.

An FSRE approach should work with these local systems, but as shown above, would still

need to address the policy level to assure legal protection for such systems of local

management.

While the small farm may frequently be mainly a subsistence system with only a

small portion of its products going to the market, fishing livelihoods usually depend on the

market and market linkages. This requires an expansion of the typical FSRE approach to

include various marketing mechanisms and technologies within its recommendation

domains.

The nature of the fisheries resource base also poses great challenges to a typical

FSRE approach. The natural resources of small farms, while quite varied, are generally

stable, and the same solution may be applied over time to the same piece of land.

However, the sea conditions are in constant flux, and fish migrate and change behavior in

response to these changes. This, in turn, means fishers must move and change strategies as

well. FSRE recommendations will have to be more complex and more responsive to

change to deal with the increased spatial and temporal complexity and uncertainty of

fishing as compared to farming.

However, investigation of the appropriate technologies and calculation of yields

for fisheries is fmudamentally different than for farming. Calculating crop yields is relatively

straightforward while accurate inventories offish species is all but impossible, and most

attempts to achieve maximum sustainable yields (MSY) without overharvesting have been

notorious failures. While research can gauge soil nutrients, erosion, and crop yields over









time as indicators of sustainability, experience has shown that it is not possible to know

the precise level of maximum sustainable yield in fisheries until that level has been greatly

exceeded, at which point it becomes extremely difficult to return to sustainable levels.

Therefore, FSRE must develop techniques for making recommendations in much lower

levels of certainty.

Because fisheries (unlike farms) can not add inputs of seed or fertilizer to increase

yield (with few exceptions), fishers rely on the inputs of gear and knowledge to increase

production. The biological, technological and social research challenges become

developing the knowledge offish populations and behavior, as well as the gear and the

social arrangements to harvest the resource at a sustainable level.

Many coastal fisheries of the world are already overfished. This demands finding

income alternatives that do not depend on increasing overall fisheries production and

which can incorporate other economic activities such as agriculture, aquaculture, tourism

and artisanry. To do this, FSRE would have to expand its base of expertise beyond

agricultural crops and livestock to a much wider range of livelihood activities and their

interdependencies. Furthermore, this will also require FSRE to change its focus from

production to conservation of resources, a focus shift which will mean that FSRE must

begin to look seriously at ecological sustainability as one of its criteria for evaluating

alternatives.

Finally, where fishing exists in combination with use of coastal land resources and

estuaries a more traditional FSRE approach could be applied to the aquaculture or farming

components. In Asia and India, fish farming is already common either in conjunction with

rice paddy agriculture or in separate ponds that receive animal and plants wastes as

fertilizers. This is what Ruddle (1991) argues for when he discusses integrating

aquaculture into an integrated farming systems approach. In fact he sees this as having

great potential for creating stronger linkages between all the components of the farm









system, by using waste materials from one activity as energy or material sources for other

activities and creating greater output with less need for outside inputs.


VI. CONCLUSION

While there are many unanswered questions about how the methodology of FSRE

may be best applied to small-scale fisheries, there is a strong trend in current

socioeconomic studies of fisheries to recognize the need for multidisciplinary and human-

centered research (Charles, 1993). It is also widely acknowledged that solutions for fishers

will not be appropriate unless they are site specific, account for the unique mix of cultural

factors and livelihood strategies in an area and draw upon fishers' traditional knowledge.

These are all processes in which FSRE has proven strengths. Major challenges remain in

expanding FSRE to cover the policy-recommendation arena and in adapting its

quantitative tools, such as adaptability analysis to the more complex nature and higher

uncertainty levels in assessing fish stocks and the variable strategies of fishers.




The author wishes to acknowledge the kind assistance of Mr. Ali Ustun and Mr. Allen

Wood for their helpful review and comments on this paper. The final responsibility for any

errors remain the author's.








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