Sustainable fisheries requires support to small-scale fishery operators, who create jobs for the local communities, protect local and regional marine resources and promote sustainable consumption. In this regard, the role of small scale artisanal fishers cannot be overemphasized. Micro-, small- and medium-enterprises (MSME) in the agri-business sector, including in the fishery processing industry, are present in almost every coastal country. Their role is even more vital in poverty eradication and empowerment of youth and women.
Formal MSMEs contribute up to 45 percent of total employment and up to 33 percent of national income (GDP) in emerging economies. These numbers are significantly higher when micro enterprises and informal SMEs are included. In coastal regions, many of these MSMEs are engaged in sustainable fisheries, mainly for local markets, but with increasing potentials for national and regional markets, including export markets. MSMEs often involve people with little or no financial resources who also face tremendous barriers to access the conventional financial institutions for start-up businesses due to their poverty and lack of collateral assets.
In addition, MSMEs are constrained by lack of capacity and knowledge on launching businesses, market access and other resources. Furthermore, many developing countries have not been able to fully tap the potentials of MSMEs due to weak policy, institutional and support mechanisms. MSMEs can be a powerful vehicle to improve economic and social conditions of individuals, communities and society in the coastal regions. Accordingly, the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development has specific targets regarding MSMEs under Goal 8 and also under goal 14 in terms of support for access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets; but the significance of and support for MSMEs have been mentioned in many other Goals and Targets.
This initiative aims to address issues such as lack of access to financial resources, credit, business operation capacities, market analysis skills and management skills. The beneficiaries could include small-scale artisanal fishery operators, the public sector agencies, local communities, local cooperatives, as well as the business association in support of MSMEs. It is expected that the eventual beneficiaries of the project will also include the MSME entrepreneurs including women and youth.