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Artisanal fishing (also referred to as ‘small scale fishing’) provides food and livelihoods for vast numbers of people around the world, particularly in developing nations. The Artisinal Fishing Opportunities goal measures the extent to which access to artisanal fishing meets the need for such activity (see Artisinal Fishing: Need).

Access to artisanal fishing  measures the regulatory, economic, and physical factors that influence people’s opportunities to fish.  This indicator assesses how fisheries regulations, water access, and economic factors support and facilitate artisanal fishing. Not included in this indicator is an assessment of whether there is anything left to catch in areas where artisanal fishing takes place. It is not possible to measure at a global scale the abundance of fish in these areas, though that may be done in regional assessments. 

How Was It Measured? 

Depending on the scale, measurement of access to artisanal fishing can be assessed differently. For the global assessment scores, data describing the management effectiveness of fisheries was taken from a questionnaire-based study by Mora et al. (2009). Responses used for calculating Status of the Artisinal Fishing Opportunities goal included whether artisanal fishermen are required to have a fishing license; whether there are regulations limiting the size and number of fish caught and the number of fishermen allowed to fish; and whether statistics are collected for this sort of fishing.  Responses to a similar set of questions for recreational fishermen were also used. 

Coastal countries were given a score between 0-100 in the Mora et al. (2009) study, 100 being the best score. Those results were rescaled for the Ocean Health Index to range between 0-1. The scores provided an indication of the effectiveness of institutional measures that supported or facilitated artisanal fishing in each country. Since Mora et al.’s (2009) work has not been repeated, no changes to this indicator have been made since its first use in 2012.  

The target for the Artisanal Fishing Opportunities goal is for there to be no unmet demand for such fishing; and for all artisanal fishing to be done by sustainable methods. Each country's Status score for the goal is calculated as (1 - unmet demand) x country-specific sustainability factor. Unmet demand is calculated as (1 - log transformed rescaled PPPpcGDP) x (1 - access to artisanal fishing). For additional information see Web page for Artisinal Fishing: Need. 

For regional assessments, however, access to artisanal fishing can be measured at a finer scale, looking at more specific measurements. For example, in the US West Coast assessment, access to artisanal fishing was scored by looking at physical and economic access measures. Physical access was assessed by the number of public access points per mile of coastline; and economic access was estimated based on the 5 year trend in diesel prices as a percentage of median income, a factor which would influence how far small-scale fishermen might travel by boat to catch fish. Moreover, fish stock assessments conducted by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service were also available as an estimator of whether fishermen accessing the ocean by foot or by boat would have anything to catch.

For more information, please see our US West Coast assessment.

What are the Impacts?

Good access to artisinal fishing opportunities helps local populations meet their need for protein. If such fishing is done with sustainable methods and appropriate regulation, fish and other seafood stocks should be able to meet people’s needs for years to come.