6.2.17 | Tropical fisheries is a changing world are at the centre of a three-day workshop at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) which unites scientists from the institute, its German partners and internationally renowned experts. From February 7 to 9, 2017 the participants will discuss the socioeconomic and the climate-induced drivers of tropical fisheries whilst also looking at modern concepts and tools for fisheries management.

Organizer Professor Matthias Wolff says: “The central objective of our workshop is to put methods assessing the pressing issues of today’s tropical fisheries into focus and to discuss approaches for reconciling sustainable fishing with ecosystem protection.”

The fisheries workshop will provide a platform for exchanging knowledge from the different core areas of ZMT research in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Scientists from the resource management group of ZMT will talk about their research in such different geographic region as East, West, and the inland Africa as well as the Pacific Latin America. In addition, invited international experts will present their insights on the current state of the balanced harvest approach (Kolding, Norway), on California shrimp fishery management as related to climate change (Arreguin-Sanchez, Mexico), on the implications of the introduction of Nile tilapia into lake Victoria (van Zwieten, Netherlands) and the experiences with Locally Managed Marine Areas - LMMA´s (Govan, Fidji).

Tropical fisheries provide the livelihoods and nutrition for hundreds of millions of people. About half of the harvest of all fisheries resources stems from tropical waters. The global demand for fish food is going to increase dramatically in the near future and resources from tropical waters shall play an important role as supplier. With the rising global demand for fish, prices increase and a rising fraction of the fish harvested from tropical waters ends up on plates in the global North, while the access to fresh fish may decrease locally. Tropical fisheries run the risk of being primarily regulated by the global fish market’s top players and many coastal areas shall eventually be made privately managed areas. Some large distant water fisheries are accused of pushing local resource users in tropical developing countries to the edge of their existence. Meanwhile, enlarging Marine Protected Areas may lead to a further reduction of fishable areas along tropical coasts, greatly affecting the livelihoods of coastal villagers.

Fisheries management in tropical waters still follows concepts and paradigms developed for temperate waters. The multispecies, multigear characteristics of tropical fisheries make sound fishing management difficult. Top town measures such as minimum mesh size regulations, gear prohibition, area closures etc. may often not be adequate for sustaining the resource populations and livelihoods of fishermen and associated families. Optimal fishing strategies should be developed locally considering the cultural, ecological and socio-economic context of the fisheries. Resource users and scientists should jointly elaborate management plans. Ways of implementing a fishing regime adapted to the ecosystemic conditions and resource productivities along the size spectrum of the ecosystem should be explored.