ūüďĘ The Illuminating Hidden Harvests report is out now! ūüďĘ


Very happy to finally announce the publication of the #IlluminatingHiddenHarvests: the contributions of #SmallScaleFisheries to sustainable development report!

About Illuminating Hidden Harvests: The global contribution of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development goals

Illuminating Hidden Harvests is a global initiative of FAO, Duke University, and WorldFish to generate and disseminate new evidence about the importance of small-scale fisheries to inform policy and practice.‚ÄĮA major output is the Illuminating Hidden Harvest: The contributions of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development (IHH) report, which assesses the current environmental, economic, gender, food security and nutrition, and governance dimensions of small-scale fisheries globally. Over 800 authors and experts worldwide contributed to the report.‚ÄĮRead the report here.

New publication! Tiny fish could unlock big gains in tackling global malnutrition


Check out our new publication in Nature Food, “Small pelagic fish supply abundant and affordable micronutrients to low- and middle-income countries”, part of the Illuminating Hidden Harvests Initiative!

‚ÄúOur findings show that nutrients critical to tackling malnutrition are within the reach of vulnerable people living nearby coastal and freshwater ecosystems across the globe. These small locally-caught fish are packed with nutrients key for sustaining healthy diets, are already caught in sufficient numbers, and are affordable. Small pelagic fisheries must be fished sustainably, and catches must reach vulnerable local populations.‚ÄĚ

The research is part of the ‚Äė Illuminating Hidden Harvests ‚Äô project, where an international
team of researchers and fisheries scientists collected data on catch volumes and economic
and nutrient data for over two-thirds of global fisheries catch, including nearly 2,350 species. The findings identified the most affordable and nutritious fish in 39 low and middle-income countries, and will help inform public health and fisheries policies in places where data on fish nutrients are scarce. Small pelagic fish hit a sweet spot of being highly nutritious, caught abundantly and, crucially, are also the most affordable fish, especially in low-income countries. They are rich in iron, zinc, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium and are up to twice as affordable as other fish groups. Herrings, sardines and anchovies were found to be the cheapest nutritious fish in 28 of the 39 countries studied. Cold-water demersal species, such as cod and flounders were found to be the least affordable.

Illuminating Hidden Harvests: A snapshot of key findings (webinar)


Tuesday 23 November 2021

If you missed our first webinar on the outputs of IHH, you can check it out here!

This 90-minute webinar provides a snapshot of some key findings from the IHH report. Due out in 2022, the IHH report ties together the efforts of nearly 800 authors and experts to contribute to a more complete picture of small-scale fisheries. Drawing on a tapestry of methods, including 58 country and territory case studies, the report examines the current environmental, social, economic and governance contributions of marine and inland small-scale fisheries at global and local scales. In this webinar, the IHH chapter leads shared a few key findings from the report and responded to audience members’ questions during the Q&A session.

More to come in 2022….

Illuminating Hidden Harvests (IHH): A snapshot of key findings


Tuesday 23 November 2021

WEBINAR | A first look Eyes at some findings from the #IlluminatingHiddenHarvests report on #smallscalefisheries

Join us!

The webinar is happening twice and both will be in English with interpretation into French and Spanish:
‚ěĒ 8-9:30 am Rome (CET) / 2-3:30 pm Bangkok (ICT) – register now OR

‚ěĒ 10-11:30 am New York (EST) / 4-5:30 pm Rome (CET) – register now

‚ÄúEcological guidelines for designing networks of marine reserves in the unique biophysical environment of the Gulf of California‚ÄĚ


Fully protected marine reserves are key tools for enhancing fisheries, conserving biodiversity and adapting to climate change. However, their benefits are evident only if they are well designed, strategically placed and are part of bottom-up strategies that include local communities and users.


Fig. 1Gulf of California showing the location of 47 existing marine reserves, and the location of the three biogeographic subregions (Brusca et al. 2005): Northern (NGC), Central (CGC) and Southern (SGC).

By synthesizing the ample scientific information available for the Gulf of California, 37 researchers from 20 institutions, we published the ecological guidelines for designing networks of marine reserves, open access in the Journal Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. The guidelines suggest to protect the main habitats including replicates within each bioregion, protect critical areas for the reproduction and growth of commercial species and sites with unique biodiversity, include sites that are connected with help of oceanic currents to allow for larval exchange and sites with a minimum length of at least 10km to protect ~80% of commercial species, and consider climate change effects, among others.

The ecological guidelines represent an opportunity for Mexico, particularly to strengthen the design of fishery refuges and core zones within natural protected areas administered by CONAPESCA/SAGARPA and CONANP/SEMARNAT, respectively. Well designed marine reserves can help maximize the benefits for both people and nature in the long term.

Link to full open-acces paper:



COFI33 Side event – The importance of small-scale fisheries: Global, regional and national initiatives


Coming to ¬†(Committee on Fisheries 33rd Session) this week at the FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department headquarters? Join us Monday lunch¬†at our side event to discuss ongoing work to improve our knowledge of small-scale fisheries¬†contributions to food security and poverty eradication, and on implementation of the SSF guidelines w/ governments from around the world. Looking forward to a great discussion!


See full agenda here

The endorsement of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication by the FAO Committee on Fisheries in 2014 was a global recognition of the importance of the sector. Importantly, these SSF Guidelines bring together responsible fisheries and social development, providing a policy framework towards small-scale fisheries sustainability through a holistic and integrated approach, in line with the 2030 Agenda, which rests on the interconnected and indivisible nature of its 17 SDGs.

However, this transformation needs substantial support, including better understanding the contributions of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development to make the case for greater political support. This side event will therefore present ongoing work to improve our knowledge of the sector’s contributions, in particular to food security and poverty eradication, and on the implementation of the SSF Guidelines at various levels, which will also support paving the way towards the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2022.

Twitter: #COFI33 #SSFGuidelines

The event will be webcast (FAO)

News Flickr Collection

Illuminating Hidden Harvests: The contributions of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development


All over the world, small-scale fisheries (SSF) provide livelihoods for millions, essential nutrition to billions and contribute substantially to household, local and national economies and economic growth. In the oceans, more people work in SSF than in all other sectors combined (World Bank 2012; OECD 2016). Inland rivers, lakes and floodplains support even more men and women fishers, processors and sellers than do marine systems. Furthermore, SSF are often culturally important to the identity of those involved, and can be central to trade, social structures and interactions within and among communities. Yet due to the highly diverse and dispersed nature of SSF, quantifying and understanding their multiple contributions is difficult. As a result, despite impressive headline statistics, SSF are too frequently marginalized in political processes and not given due attention in policy. This is becoming increasingly problematic as pressure from outside the sector (e.g. globalized trade, competition for space and resources, climate change) and from within (e.g. rising fishing effort, limited investment in management) increases and the costs of marginalization are ever more apparent.


Fig. 1 – HIDDEN HARVEST: The Global Contribution of Capture Fisheries (2012).

The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) have the ambitious goal of supporting the development of SSF and fishing communities through a human rights-based approach to fisheries that is socially and environmentally sustainable. Achieving this goal will require substantial support from governments, private enterprise, international donors and NGOs. A key element in building the case for this support is better illuminating the diverse contributions of these fisheries, and providing new evidence in a way that can be used by communities and advocates to make a strong case for investment in the sector. In 2012, FAO, the World Bank and WorldFish published Hidden Harvest: The Global Contribution of Capture Fisheries (HH1) (Fig. 1), which produced valuable new estimates of relative importance of large-scale and small-scale fisheries. Millions of metric tons of fish from the sector are hidden (unreported), with HH1 suggesting underreporting rates from inland fisheries globally of about 70%. SSF in developing countries produce almost as much fish for direct domestic consumption as large-scale fisheries, and most of this is consumed locally in rural settings where poverty rates are high and quality nutrition is sorely needed. Importantly, the study highlighted that almost 50% of workers in the sector are women.

Org. Framework_IHH

Fig. 2 – Organizational framework of the “Illuminating Hidden Harvests” (IHH) study. SDGs = Sustainable Development Goals.

To support the growing momentum in implementing the SSF Guidelines, and in response to the Sustainable Development Goals, FAO, WorldFish and Duke University are working in partnership with experts globally to revisit and build on this initial HH1 study. Encompassing the pre-harvesting, harvesting and post-harvesting sectors of inland and marine fisheries, the new study entitled “Illuminating Hidden Harvests” (IHH) asks the questions: 1) What are the social, environmental, economic and governance contributions of SSF at global and local scales? And 2) What are the key drivers of change in these sectors, including both threats and opportunities? As with the HH1 study, we will use a case study approach to engage with local expertise in priority countries that have substantial SSF sectors or notable nutritional dependence on SSF. The study will also take advantage of improved availability of relevant national and global datasets on fisheries, demographics, employment, fish consumption and nutrition in the synthesis and extrapolation process. Besides updating many indicators from the first study, the new study seeks in particular to provide new synthesis on social and nutritional benefits, and social differentiation in the flow of benefits from different fishery sectors. A series of thematic studies will highlight available information on important themes that may include among others climate change impacts, contributions to conservation and governance, where global synthesis is perhaps not yet possible (Fig. 2).

IHH pamphletThe project will produce a major synthesis report in 2020. Thematic studies and possibly some country case studies will be published as separate reports and scientific journal articles where appropriate. A major communications effort will accompany the project, involving close engagement with key stakeholders to understand communication needs to support SSF communities and the drive to implement the SSF Guidelines. The project provides a ‚Äėsnapshot‚Äô of the current contributions from SSF but importantly also looks at drivers of change. Associated with the project, but extending beyond the 2020 reporting date, will be an initiative that integrates methods and outcomes from country case studies, thematic studies and global synthesis into a framework for monitoring change trajectories and impacts of investments and management innovation in the SSF sector.

For further information see project pamphlet here, or please contact:

Project Coordinator FAO: Giulia Gorelli (giulia.gorelli@fao.org)
Duke University: Maria del Mar Mancha-Cisneros (mar.mancha@duke.edu)            WorldFish: David Mills (d.mills@cgiar.org)

A user-friendly tool to evaluate the effectiveness of no-take marine reserves


The benefits of no-take marine reserves – where all extractive activities are prohibited – are well known. While previous work has provided indicators to evaluate performance of marine protected areas, they do not provide guidelines to analyze these indicators, nor a user-friendly tool to conduct the evaluation. A group of graduates from The Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California Santa Barbara have collaborated with the Mexican NGO Comunidad y Biodiversidad A.C. over the past couple of years to provide managers and fishers with tools to evaluate marine reserves taking into account biophysical, socioeconomic, and governance dimensions.

The result of this work is a new open access paper published by the graduates, other colleagues and I in the journal PLoS ONE titled: “A user-friendly tool to evaluate the effectiveness of no-take marine reserves“.¬†The group also developed an open-source user-friendly web application called MAREA (Marine Reserve Evaluation App), which automates the evaluation of the effectiveness of marine no-take reserves and produces a color-coded scorecard.


Citation: Villase√Īor-Derbez JC, Faro C, Wright M, Mart√≠nez J, Fitzgerald S, Fulton S, et al. (2018) A user-friendly tool to evaluate the effectiveness of no-take marine reserves. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0191821. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191821

For more information:


Marine reserves are implemented to achieve a variety of objectives, but are seldom rigorously evaluated to determine whether those objectives are met. In the rare cases when evaluations do take place, they typically focus on ecological indicators and ignore other relevant objectives such as socioeconomics and governance. And regardless of the objectives, the diversity of locations, monitoring protocols, and analysis approaches hinder the ability to compare results across case studies. Moreover, analysis and evaluation of reserves is generally conducted by outside researchers, not the reserve managers or users, plausibly thereby hindering effective local management and rapid response to change. We present a framework and tool, called ‚ÄúMAREA‚ÄĚ, to overcome these challenges. Its purpose is to evaluate the extent to which any given reserve has achieved its stated objectives. MAREA provides specific guidance on data collection and formatting, and then conducts rigorous causal inference analysis based on data input by the user, providing real-time outputs about the effectiveness of the reserve. MAREA‚Äôs ease of use, standardization of state-of-the-art inference methods, and ability to analyze marine reserve effectiveness across ecological, socioeconomic, and governance objectives could dramatically further our understanding and support of effective marine reserve management.

Citation: Villase√Īor-Derbez J.C.,Faro, C., Wright, M., Mart√≠nez, J., Fitzgerald, S., Fulton, S.,¬†Mancha-Cisneros, M.M.,¬†McDonald, G., Micheli, F., Su√°rez, A., Torre, J., Costello, C. 2018. A user-friendly tool to evaluate the effectiveness of no-take marine reserves. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0191821.

Designing connected marine reserves in the face of global warming


(Spanish version here)

Global warming can disrupt ecological connectivity among marine reserves by shortening potential dispersal pathways through changes in larval physiology. These changes can compromise the effectiveness of marine reserve networks, thus requiring adjusting their design to account for warmer oceans. To address this challenge, a group of scientists, agencies, NGOs, and fishers have developed an approach to planning for connectivity under future ocean warming. The project, coordinated by Comunidad y Biodiversidad, A.C. (COBI), is guiding the design and implementation of a network of marine reserves in the Gulf of California, Mexico.


Midriff Islands Region in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico. Photo by Thor Morales ©

Using the Midriff Islands Region as a case study, we developed a framework to design marine reserve networks that integrates graph theory and changes in larval connectivity due to ocean warming. Our study shows that maintaining dispersal connectivity incidentally through representation-only reserve design is unlikely, particularly in regions with strong asymmetric patterns of connectivity. We suggest that, given potential reductions in planktonic larval duration due to ocean warming, future marine reserve networks would require more and/or larger reserves in closer proximity to maintain larval connectivity. Designing marine reserve networks through an approach based on centrality of habitat patches produces better-connected marine reserve networks for the future with equivalent socioeconomic costs. The results of this study, led by Jorge G. Alvarez-Romero, were recently published in Global Change Biology.

**For more information, refer to the following publication and blog:

AŐĀlvarez-Romero, J.G., Munguia-Vega, A., Beger, M., Mancha-Cisneros, M.M., SuaŐĀrez-Castillo, A.N., Gurney, G.G., Pressey, R.L., Gerber, Morzaria-Luna, H.N., L.R., Reyes-Bonilla, H., Adams, V.M., Kolb, M., Graham, E.M., VanDerWal, J., Castillo-Lopez, A., Hinojosa-Arango, G., PetataŐĀn-RamiŐĀrez, D., Moreno-Baez, M., GodiŐĀnez-Reyes, C.R., Torre, J. 2017. Designing connected marine reserves in the face of global warming. Global Change Biology: 1-21. Link:¬†http://rdcu.be/Dd7H

Blog: Designing connected marine reserves in the face of global warming

Graduate students advance collaborations in synthesizing coding efforts for SES research

IASC_2017Graduate students affiliated with the¬†Center for Behavior, Institutions, and the Environment (CBIE)¬†organized an¬†interdisciplinary panel at the¬†16th¬†Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons¬†(IASC) to present follow-up work to the graduate student workshop “Breaking the Code: Synthesizing Coding Efforts for SES Research“.

The conference took place in July 2017 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Collaborators included CBIE affiliated graduate students Ute Brady, Elicia Ratajczyk,¬†Sechindra Vallury,¬†Cathy Rubi√Īos,¬†Mady Tyson,¬†Hoon Shin, Skaidra Smith-Heisters, and former ASU post-doc¬†Michael Bernstein, as well as other emerging social and natural science scholars from various U.S., Canadian, and European universities.

Panel presentations outlined issues such as defining success in resource management (success for what and for whom?); dialogues between coding variables and frameworks in case studies of Common-pool Resources; the lack of inclusion of variables deemed to be important for SES analysis in resource database; and overcoming barriers for ‚Äėcommons‚Äô scholars to share their data and research findings in a more consistent and easily accessible manner. The panel presentation also included suggestions as to how some of the identified problems related to SES governance may be addressed.

The ASU-CBIE team presented their work on the incorporation of coding variables into the structure of the Robustness Framework, which is now publicly accessible at a Wikisite that functions both as a portal for scholars interested in learning about common pool resource (CPR) methodologies and a forum for feedback on these variables. In doing so, the team aims to advance a common set of variables for SES analysis to foster better cross-comparisons of case studies involving natural resources and biodiversity preservation efforts.

The panel presentation was well attended and generated many interesting discussions with the potential for future collaborations. The team’s research efforts will certainly expand beyond their successful presentation at the IASC.