Virtual Environmental and Humanitarian Adviser Tool – (VEHA Tool) is a tool
to easily integrate environmental considerations in humanitarian response. Field Implementation guidances are useful for the design and execution of humanitarian activities in the field.

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VEHA - Field Implementation Guidance

Agricultural livelihoods
Recover livelihoods - Fisheries
Fishing boats, engines and nets

Fishing boats, engines and nets


Environmental factors causing/contributing to the needs and affecting the humanitarian activity

Worldwide, over 500 million people depend, directly or indirectly, on fisheries and aquaculture. Fish provide essential nutrition to three billion people, including at least 50 percent of the animal protein and essential mineral intake of 400 million people in the poorest countries. []

Diseases threaten fish and contribute to food and nutrition insecurity among rural populations dependent on fish farming.

Seafood production has a high revenue potential when compared to many other animal or agricultural products. This revenue potential makes it a highly desirable livelihood that is often promoted in coastal communities after a disaster. Seafood capture (both industrial and artisanal) has depleted the world’s oceans and continues to stress fisheries’ ability to reproduce enough to maintain viable stocks globally. In addition to the capture of fish for human consumption, the farming of fish may raise pressure on wild fisheries by extracting wild juveniles for further culturing, or by utilizing wild fish as a feed source. Therefore fisheries-based livelihoods may be vulnerable to collapse because of insufficient natural capital.

The fishing industry causes significant harm to fish breeding grounds, including coral reefs, and pollution, turbidity, that damages ecosystems. Fishnets often capture species that are not wanted for food that is then thrown back into the ocean dead, this includes fish that are too small to eat that now dead cannot grow to provide food.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Some women own fishing vessels and in many countries, they finance fishing trips, thereby guaranteeing a source of fish for their processing and marketing operations.


Environmental impact categories

Climate Change
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem
Water pollution

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

· Overfishing

· Fuel consumption and its impact on Climate change

· The capture of endangered, threatened, and protected species

· Destructive fishing practices (incl. illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing)

· Impacts on natural capital and ecosystem services

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Overfishing occurs when there is excess fishing capacity available, capturing fish in quantities that cannot be naturally sustained.

Overfishing reduces the size of the stock in a body of water and eventually reduces the potential yields that can be harvested on an annual basis. Fishing subsidies can cause or exacerbate overfishing. They are typically used to increase catch capacity through increased expenditure on fuel, nets, vessels, processing equipment, or other fishing equipment.

The type of equipment used and the type of fish targeted influence energy efficiency in fisheries. Equipment type and target species affect fuel efficiency. Hence, fisheries management policies can have impacts on fuel efficiency and the emission of greenhouse gases.

Endangered, threatened, and protected (ETP) aquatic and marine species such as marine mammals (dolphins, whales), turtles, sea birds, and sharks can be captured and harmed or killed by the use of fishing equipment that intentionally or unintentionally captures them. They are susceptible to drift gillnets, surface gill nets, and trawl nets.

Destructive fishing practices indiscriminately damage or destroy habitats, breeding grounds, or fish populations. Harmful methods include bottom-trawling, the use of explosives such as dynamite, and the use of chemicals, such as cyanide. The use of fine mesh nets is common in small-scale fisheries, capturing a high proportion of juveniles, preventing them from maturing into adults.

The fisheries sector is entirely dependent on the ability of aquatic ecosystems to provide habitats for the fish species being harvested, as well as provisioning their food sources, and any other species that support the stability and resilience of those ecosystems.


Summary of environmental activities

Ensure that fisheries-related livelihoods…

· are based on the assessment of the viability of target fish stocks.

· support proper monitoring practices that allow understanding of the trends in fish stocks.

· are developed in consultation with local environmental NGOs with experience in fisheries and livelihoods.

· include training with the community, fisheries agencies, and fishing cooperatives in ecosystem-based management of fishing livelihoods

· use equipment and practices that do not harm breeding grounds or juvenile fish, or capture species that are not wanted for food

· promote the creation of sustainable fish farms

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Where possible, promote community-led reconstruction efforts, including investment in local industries and local capacity for rebuilding boats and infrastructure and livelihoods, taking care to ensure that fish are not overharvested.

Promote the use of recycled or sustainably sourced materials in the rebuilding of boats and supporting infrastructure, and re-equip with appropriate gears according to national and local management frameworks, working within an overarching sustainable fisheries management plan.

Avoid the introduction of inappropriate technologies such as steel boats or drag nets, and critically evaluate donor or national government-driven initiatives that seek to introduce substantially different boats or fishing equipment.

Invest in the reconstruction of strong local formal and informal institutions and the human capacity for management, including monitoring and enforcement.

Advocate for the implementation of the Code of Conduct for responsible fisheries and for fisheries, vessel, and infrastructure insurance as well as for improved safety in the design, construction, and equipment for fishing vessels. Advocate for less harmful practices including larger apertures in nets; or the introduction of well-managed sustainable fish farms.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Ex. of disease-threatening fishery sector – In 2009, fish stock in the Zambezi River Valley was infected by Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome, threatening to spread the disease to seven countries surrounding the river basin and potentially affecting the food security and livelihoods of 32 million people.

Indonesia, Tsunami operation – In the rush to restore fisheries’ livelihoods in the tsunami-affected countries, many aid agencies provided large numbers of boats and fishing gear without consideration as to whether the natural resource base could support existing let alone an increased fishing effort. Over-harvesting of natural resources at an unsustainable rate can cause or worsen food security and create conflict. The newly constructed boats were larger and able to catch more fish faster than the original boat.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Proportion of recycled materials used in boat, net and engine restoration

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

This requires consultation with people who have fishing livelihoods and assessment of local fish stocks and likely impacts on them.

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