In Chile, small-scale fishing corresponds to an extractive fishing activity carried out by natural or legal persons composed of fishermen operating on a personal, direct and on a regular basis. This activity can be conducted in vessels up to 18 meters in length and 50 tons of Gross Register Tonnage (GRT).
A small-scale fisherman is defined as a fisherman that operates as shipowner or crew member in a small-scale vessel. A small-scale shipowner has one or two vessels; a diver or shellfish gatherer conducts extraction activities of shellfish; and an algae collector gathers and dries algae.
Fishermen and their vessels must be included in the Small-Scale Fisheries Registry (RPA) managed by Sernapesca with the power to operate on particular species, under one or more categories and in a particular region, with the exception of the regime of adjacent areas. Currently, around 86,000 small-scale fishermen and more than 13,000 vessels are included in the RPA (figures as of December 2012).
The first five miles are reserved for small-scale fisheries. This area is called Reserve Area for Small-Scale Fisheries. Meanwhile, the first mile is of exclusive use of vessels with less than 12 m length, from the northern limit of the country up to the southern limit of Chiloe Island.
Regarding landing of fisheries resources, the volume has accounted for 42.8% of the whole country in the last decade, with a growth rate of 60.4%.
In the last 20 years, small-scale fisheries has moved from being a traditional and low-technology activity with low contribution to the national economy to being a sector of territorial, regional and national importance, even participating in international markets with its resources. Management of its fishing resources has also shown a significant increase.