Countries in the region share a long heritage of coastal fishing, seafaring and maritime trading that persists today. As indicated above, artisanal and small-scale fisheries provide the mainstay of the fisheries sector, both in terms of employment and catches. With widespread poverty and underdevelopment in the region, and with significant dependence on fishery resources for food and livelihoods, artisanal and small-scale fisheries could make a vital contribution to the region’s long-term development. However, for this to happen a number of trends must be addressed and remedied in ways that promote the sustainability of the Indian Ocean fisheries resources. Also, and more than ever before, some of the fisheries management issues are acquiring a regional dimension and therefore require a ‘community’ approach to management—an approach that involves all nations with their principal stakeholders in the IOR.

Based on discussions with some of the key policy makers, NGOs and fishworker organizations, the main issues identified are summarized in this section.