Maritime Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 305–314 | Cite as

Too big to fail: An essay about Svein Jentoft’s engagement in small-scale fisheries research and development of the interactive governance theory

  • Ratana ChuenpagdeeEmail author


The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines) adopted in 2014 marked a special moment for small-scale fisheries worldwide. It is the first global instrument that is designed “by” and “for” small-scale fisheries. The emphasis on food security and poverty alleviation may be interpreted to mean that the SSF Guidelines aim only at developing countries. However, as argued by Prof. Svein Jentoft, who has been instrumental in the drafting of the Guidelines’ text as well as in the official adoption process, the SSF Guidelines are relevant for small-scale fisheries in the north in the same way that small-scale fisheries are important to many developed countries. A fundamental question is how to make use of the SSF Guidelines in enabling the sustainability of small-scale fisheries. This essay presents some of the arguments made by Prof. Jentoft’s work on small-scale fisheries and fisheries governance, that the implementation of the SSF Guidelines requires changes in all governing orders. Specifically, multiple case studies research is necessary at the first order to illuminate the diversity and complexity of small-scale fisheries and the multifaceted issues and challenges they face. This is imperative for the new design and re-arrangement of institutions in the second-order to allow for flexibility and adaptation to deal with the dynamics in small-scale fisheries and the changing environment. Finally, at the meta-order, new images for small-scale fisheries governance are required. The essay concludes with some discussion about moving forward, reflecting on the influence of Prof. Jentoft’s work in shaping research and governance for small-scale fisheries sustainability.



The author wishes to acknowledge Prof. John Kurien for his contribution to the early drafts of the essay. The essay also benefits from the suggestions by the reviewers, especially in the final round, and the special issue editors. Thanks also to Brennan Lowery for the editorial help. The final thanks go to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for the financial support to the Too Big To Ignore: Global Partnership for Small-Scale Fisheries Research, based at Memorial University, St. John’s, Canada (grant number 895-2011-1011).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Memorial UniversitySt. John’sCanada

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