Expanding our understanding of the global contributions of SSFs


In 2012, the World Bank, FAO and WorldFish Center published Hidden Harvest: The Global Contribution of Capture Fisheries (‘HH1’), a study that included estimates of the scope and economic importance of small-scale fisheries. However, given the increased international attention to SSFs, the HH1 study would benefit from a refinement and update that expands measures of the role that SSFs play in sustainable development more broadly.  

Research Questions:

  • What are the contributions of small-scale fisheries to the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – as well as governance, at the global level?
  • What are the key drivers of change, including both threats and opportunities, describing the contributions of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development?

Goals and Deliverables:

For this reason, we propose to update the HH1 study, to include additional measures of the contribution of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development as well as governance, and particularly noting contributions of SSF toward achieving internationally-agreed goals. In addition, the update will identify the main drivers of change or transformation. To achieve these aims, the study results and final publication will include:

  1. Quantification of selected key indicators/variables at the global level, including indicators that can be used to monitor different governance and management arrangements in selected countries.
  2. Thematic studies on central issues that provide a narrative supporting the global trends and analyze the drivers of change/transformation.


The HH2 study will be conducted primarily using three main approaches: 1) Leveraging global datasets by correcting for small-scale fisheries underreporting and applying ratio estimates to disaggregate small-scale and large-scale fisheries contributions. 2) Undertaking national-level case studies that can form the basis for extrapolation to the global level. 3) Assembling non-scalable data that highlight the contributions of and drivers of change in small-scale fisheries in specific contexts.


The three organizations – FAO, World Fish and Duke University – constitute the core study team but there are many other potential collaborators. Funding support is generously provided by the Oak Foundation.




The aim is to publish and launch the HH2 publication in 2020, publishing peer-reviewed articles along the way. Project start: January 1, 2018. Project end: June 30, 2020.