SDG 14: Small projects for big impact in fisheries

12 March 2021

SDG target 14.4 aims to effectively regulate harvesting, end overfishing, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and to end destructive fishing practices. Essentially, this is about fisheries management.

Fisheries management is a wicked problem, full of trade-offs and compromises.The primary challenge of fisheries management is to balance the sustainability of the resource with the livelihoods of people who depend upon it. How do societies do that?

We learn everything we can about the status of the resources.  We create legal structures about what can be fished, when, where, and by whom. We regulate how the fish can be caught, and where it can be sold. We form institutions and community organisations to implement these legal frameworks.

The first step in achieving SDG target 14.4 is the creation of governance structures that support sustainable management in fisheries. Having rules in place is one thing, but making it work in practice can be an entirely different challenge.

In fisheries development, there is a case to be made for smaller, targeted interventions. Investments in smaller, well-founded projects based on insights of research in fisheries might ultimately do more to achieve target 14.4 than large, broad interventions.

Professor Daði Már Kristófersson is a natural resource economist and a professor at the University of Iceland. In this video, he walks us through some examples of how small incentives can lead to real changes on the ground.

What do you think? Do you agree that "small is beautiful" in fisheries development?