Svein Jentoft, Aliou SallThis was biggest of a series of world congresses on small-scale fisheries with more than 350 participants from 55 countries. Ratana Chuenpagdee, Project Director of the global research network "Too Big To Ignore" and her staff and local organisers pulled off a highly inspiring and productive conference. Mundus maris made its contribution through the active participation of Aliou Sall, our Vice-President from Senegal. To the right Aliou with Svein Jentoft who was honoured for his outstanding contributions to small-scale fisheries. Congratulations Svein!

The title of the conference set the tone "Transdisciplinarity and Transformation for the Future of Small-Scale Fisheries". Small-scale fisheries are under pressure everywhere from overfishing, competition from industrial operators, constraints in access to space, finance and markets, climate change and the challenges of global markets. This contrasts with the FAO estimate that 97% of all persons active in fisheries are employed in the small-scale sub-sector. The conference theme invited us therefore to think outside the box about what we can do collectively to enhance understanding of the importance of small-scale fisheries, and to support their viability and sustainability.

Although the days were organised into science, community, policy, field and action, the conveners encouraged everyone to think about the following cross-cutting questions as everybody moved through the congress. These cross-cutting questions provided guidance and structure to the sessions. They were:

1. What is the major knowledge gap in small-scale fisheries?

2. What are the major challenges facing small-scale fisheries?

3. What kind of change in science, community, markets and policy is required to improve viability of small-scale fishing communities, reduce their vulnerability and to promote SSF sustainability?

4. What actions are required from civil society organizations, research community and policy people in order to implement the SSF Guidelines?

5. How to strengthen the policy-research interface?

A large number of presenters higlighted a wide range of challenges facing small-scale fisheries in all continents. Aliou Sall spoke to the recent trends in Senegal and along the West African coast that are leading to selective impoverishment of women in fisheries. They lose ground against international investors with deep pockets, who drive up costs and outcompete the women entrepreneurs without access to structural support and ordinary credit.

Examples illustrating some of the underlying case material are documented in some detail on the website. Click here for interviews with Ramatoulaye Barry in Guinea and with Khady Sarr in Senegal. The slides of Aliou's talk in Chiang Mai can be seen here. The book of abstracts is here.

An excursion to a lake fisheries site near the conference venue allowed for interaction with small-scale fishers there.

Some of the conference follow-up programme took place in interactive sessions in workshop style. That allowed for very intense exchange and generation of new insights and research questions.

The conference aim was to find feasible and innovative solutions to make fisheries sustainable, including ways to support implementation of the SSF Guidelines and thus contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. These discussions laid the foundation for greater coordination across the sector leading up to the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development in 2021–2030 and the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2022.

Click here for more information on the congress, including its proceedings, videos, media reactions and more. Click here for the summary report.

During the excursion to a near-by lake fishery Group work
Thanks to Svein Jentoft and Ratana Chuenpagdee