This type of innovation aspires to reforming the sales system so that it shortens the value chain between the producer and the consumer by reducing the number of intermediaries and ideally reaching the point where the producer is able to serve the final customer directly. The outcome of a shortened value chain is usually a good price deal for both the fisher and the consumer, who receives a better product, probably also at a better price, but also improved traceability.
Direct contact also improves communication, thus producers are better able to inform consumers about the qualities of their products, and consumers are better able to communicate their requirements.
Initiatives may improve sales systems using ICT (Information and Communication Technology), through apps, online platforms or social media channels to offer their products and services. ICT is increasingly used in the sale of food and, although it is not at the same level of other types of food such as fruits and vegetables, selling fish products online is also raising attention. Online sale is often accompanied by more traditional systems, such as phone orders.
Initiatives may offer different products to diversify the type of sales. Consumption of fish tends to be concentrated on relatively few species (hake, cod, shrimp, bass, farmed salmon, etc.), which can potentially be overexploited and often not correspond to the local reality and seasonal availability. New markets can valorise lesser-known species, which are an important part of the catch for small scale fishing, have gastronomic value, and help to reduce fishing pressure on overexploited species. Interesting initiatives exist to create new markets for non-indigenous (and usually invasive) species that are increasingly being major catches of the small-scale fishers.
These initiatives involve both in-depth printed or digital materials and hands-on promotional activities, consisting of workshops, gastronomic events, fish festivals and cooking classes, targeting different audiences, from chefs to the general public. These initiatives go beyond providing technical and legal information of the products by explaining the origin and the fishing techniques that brought the fish from the sea to the dish, these activities are promoting the intrinsic value of the product, teaching how it is to be prepared, and explaining the ecological significance of the marine species and the low impact nature of small-scale fishers.
Some initiatives have deployed branding and labelling the products to highlight certain aspects of their production method. Known labelling schemes in the Mediterranean have been initiated by fishers or NGOs, and not by public authorities, even if these have been supportive of the action. They have come in the form of a logo and / or a statement on the product that tells the consumer the food meets the standard of that scheme. The sort of information that the brand or label communicates can be different, and has included the origin of the product (geographical indication), the production system (exclusively small-scale), quality and freshness of the products (e.g fish of the day), and others.
While this innovation does not relate to the product or its sale directly, but at managerial level, it constitutes a key innovation factor to take into account when analyzing viable options as it can lead to greater impact as is what enables fishers to become price-makers instead of being price-takers. In some cases, previous investment in support and capacity building of the sector, has become better organized and enhanced the entrepreneurial dimension of their own commercialization initiatives, normally combining several of the previous innovations. This not only empowers the SSF sector as actors of change and diminishes the intra-sectoral competence but allows to create fairer prices of their product and reverts directly to the maintenance of their own structures and collective action.
Initiatives have been set up that seek to coordinate efforts, replicate and scale-up the previously mentioned innovative initiatives to allow a greater impact and enhance visibility. These are initiatives of second level (networks, etc.) that try to give visibility and connect several initiatives and try to simplify messages given the complexity of the whole subject for the general public.
A holistic lens on sustainability suggests responsible fisheries management with, and for small-scale fisheries, as a solution. Historically, SSF have been in an unfavorable position. Nevertheless, the relevant recent policy statements and commitments, relevant for the fisheries policies, have indicated the directions for the reform in fisheries governance and thus provide hope that many of the negative trends (overfishing, stocks collapse, marginalization of SSF etc.) will be reversed.
Blue Economy as a force “to promote growth, jobs and investments and reduce poverty, whilst safeguarding healthy seas and developing a clear vision for the sustainable and integrated development of marine and maritime sectors at national and sea basin level