Artisanal Fishing: Low Bycatch

Artisanal fishing pressure is an indicator of how the harvesting of free-ranging fish from coastal waters and high seas by small-scale fisheries can impact the success of future catches of wild fish harvests. This includes catch and bycatch of fish, other seafood and marine wildlife.

Artisanal fishing (also referred to as small-scale fishing) provides food and livelihoods for vast numbers of people around the world, especially in developing nations. Artisanal fisheries can be subsistence or commercial and provide for both local consumption and export, but catches are generally used or marketed locally. These fisheries typically use relatively small amounts of capital and energy, as well as small fishing vessels, to make short fishing trips close to shore (FAO).

Due to their size and practices, small-scale fisheries are potentially more sustainable than large-scale. However, they also inflict pressure on the environment through overfishing and the use of destructive or unregulated fishing methods, which can result in high levels of bycatch, i.e. the catch of unintended species or undersized/underaged specimens of a target species.  
How Was It Measured?
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports statistics on this type of catch for many, but not all, countries; the Ocean Health Index (OHI) utilized data for the 59 countries reported in 2006 and modeled the values for the remaining countries. There currently is no available information on the gear type used for this catch. When determining score, the assumption was made that little of it is done with habitat-destructive gear (e.g., blast fishing) or high bycatch gear (e.g., seine nets) but recognize that high bycatch gear in particular is common.