Login Area

The Fisheries Experts Group has global scientific expertise on the ecosystem approach to fisheries and conservation




At the UN Conference on Biodiversity (CBD) COP13 held from the 4-17 December in Cancun, Mexico, EBCD together with the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, IUCN-CEM-FEG and in collaboration with ICSF organised a side event on the 7th of December entitled Small-scale fisheries communities and Aichi Target 11: Achieving conservation, sustainable livelihoods and food security in MPAs and other effective area-based measures (OEABMs). 

This event, moderated by Lena Westlund, FAO, considered the important role of small-scale fishers as part of the solution to healthy marine ecosystems, particularly in coastal areas. It also highlighted the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (the SSF Guidelines).

Westlund said that achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 on MPAs and other effective area-based measures (OEABMs) depends on mainstreaming effective fishing community participation.

Serge García, IUCN-CEM-FEG, explained why mainstreaming community participation in MPAs and OEABMS is important, underscoring that communities have formal rights to ecosystem services, and that human rights, including the right to food, should be secured if MPAs are to become successful.

Alifereti Tawake, Pacific Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network, discussed the legal and institutional framework and processes enabling LMMAs. She said LMMAs are critical as they help reduce the tragedy of the commons by facilitating adaptive management through fisheries associations.

Minerva Arce, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), reported on the recognition of human rights and norms of indigenous peoples in the Mexican constitution. She cited the ‘Too Big To Ignore’ project, which addresses community-based and participatory approaches for sustainable small-scale fisheries.

Mitchell Lay, Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organization (CNFO), shared the challenges of MPAs in the Caribbean, and said they have benefited tourism more than fisheries. Citing the example of the set up and expansion of an MPA in Belize, he noted that fishers’ cooperatives were weakened as tourism blossomed, with fishers displaced from meaningful livelihoods.

Vivienne Solis, ICSF, Costa Rica, said the SSF Guidelines have been useful in creating co-management structures and cited the formation of Marine Responsible Fishing Areas spearheaded by fishermen in Costa Rica. She referred to awareness raising, training of trainers, workshops and other activities to popularize the wider use of the SSF Guidelines in Central America.

In discussions, participants noted that, inter alia: MPAs should consider equity within the fisheries supply chain, particularly in regards to middlemen; and that finding a solution to fish spoils en route to markets will also address fishing pressure.

Further information on the event can be found here.


Overexploitation, environmental degradation, social inequities, tenure insecurity and poverty are interconnected threats to aquatic biodiversity conservation and to coastal and rural communities that depend on aquatic resources for their livelihoods and well-being. It is crucial to determine the appropriate forms of MPAs and OEABMs that can both improve biodiversity conservation and maintain or improve livelihoods and food security. Participation of the communities concerned in assessment, planning and implementation is essential. The question is then how to mainstream effective community participation, including the recognition or development of tenure rights, into both fishery and conservation policies, strategies and plans. Participation is a key guiding principle of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) and the human rights based approach (HRBA), which seeks to ensure the non-discriminatory empowerment and participation of small-scale fishing communities in transparent and accountable decision-making processes.

Link to event page


European Parliament public hearing, 09-11-2016 – Marine Protected Areas: marine biodiversity and ecosystems for the Blue Economy.

The European Parliament Committee on Fisheries will hold a hearing on “Marine Protected Areas: valuing marine biodiversity and ecosystems for the Blue Economy” on 9 November 2016 from 16:30 to 18:30.

Dr. S.M. Garcia, Chair of the IUCN Fisheries Expert Group will contribute to the hearing make a brief presentation on: Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries: some current issues.

More information here.

Follow this link for the web stream of the meeting.


Welcome to a new FEG member!

Professor Michel Kaiser, teacher in Marine Conservation Ecology at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University has just joined the Fisheries Expert Group of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (IUCN-CEM-FEG). Professor Kaiser’s competence lies at the interface between conservation and fisheries, the effects of fishing and aquaculture on the marine environment and he is also interested in the social and economic consequences of different fishery management approaches. His current work is on techniques to minimize ecological impacts of fisheries and aquaculture and on the appropriate use of marine protected areas.

These are work areas in which FEG has been deeply involved for a few years and the experience of professor Kaiser is a most welcomed addition to our competence.


Serge Garcia, Chair of the Fisheries Expert Group, took part in the conference organised by the Paris Oceanographic Institute entitled “Le monde de la pêche face à de nouveaux défis: environnementaux, sociaux et économiques –Une gouvernance plus écologique pour une conservation plus humaine ” (The fisheries world facing new challenges: environmental, social and economic – A more ecologic governance towards a more human conservation). The conference took place on the 3rd of May, and featured the presence of Ray Hilborn and Pascal Le Floc’h, alongside Serge Garcia. Click here to access Serge Garcia’s presentation.



The Fisheries Experts Group of the IUCN Commission of Ecosystem Management (IUCN/CEM/FEG, in brief FEG) was established during the IUCN World Congress in Barcelona in 2008 at the initiative of the European Bureau of Conservation and Development (EBCD) and with the support of the IUCN Global Marine Program. The scientific Expert Group has global expertise on the Ecosystem Approach to fisheries and conservation and addresses the need for an ecosystem-focused competence on marine fishery and conservation issues within the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM).

EBCD provides the Secretariat of FEG and its Director ensures the coordination.


The mission of FEG is to foster the sustainable use of fisheries and promote the conservation of related marine ecosystems. To fulfil this mission, FEG seeks to inform fisheries and marine conservation policies and related strategies and approaches and to provide a bridge between the two governance streams, facilitating their convergence.

FEG intends also to provide a link between the fishery and biodiversity expert communities of IUCN.

In pursuing its objectives, FEG links as appropriate with other IUCN Commissions such as the Species Survival Commission (SSC) (particularly with its Marine Conservation sub-Committee and the Fisheries Experts Group of the ESUSG), with the Commission on Ecological, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) and the World Commission for Protected Areas (WCPA).


FEG organizes scientific debates and meetings on key issues at the interface between fisheries and conservation. It produces and contributes to publications, books, articles, policy briefs, supported by desk studies and syntheses of available knowledge.

Pool of experts

FEG draws part of the expertise it needs to answer the broad range of questions from its Pool of Experts. The pool is a database of experts selected by the FEG Bureau for their expertise that have been either proposed formally to IUCN/CEM or have applied directly.