Category Archives: Food Security

FAO adopts sustainable small-scale fisheries guidelines

Photo credit: Jason Houston

Photo credit: Jason Houston

Small-scale fisheries provide a host of social and economic benefits to local communities.  They contribute about half of the global catch; supplying food for local, national and global markets.  They are responsible for about ninety percent of fishing employment. They provide income, contribute to food security and nutrition, alleviate poverty, and often support a way of life strongly anchored in local culture and community.

But small-scale and artisanal fisheries face many challenges today including depleted fish stocks; pollution; encroachment from development; climate change, and sea level rise. Many small-scale fishing communities are marginalized, with low levels of access to political power, education and other resources.

To combat these challenges, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) collaborated with governments, Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders to develop a set of ‘Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication’ (SSF).  Today at the biennial meeting of the FAO’s Committee on Fisheries in Rome, delegates adopted the SSF Guidelines by consensus.

The SSF Guidelines offer guidance on how to deliver on the promise of sustainable small-scale fisheries in a way that is ecosystem-friendly, participatory and sensitive to cultural context. The Guidelines give strong new impetus to the importance of inclusiveness in setting goals and designing management systems that can work for communities, with an emphasis on the key role that women play in sustainable fishing communities.

In brief, the Guidelines stress that:

  • Small-scale fishing communities need to have secure tenure rights, which equitably distribute benefits from responsibly managed fisheries.
  • These tenure rights are balanced by responsibilities for long term conservation and management of fishery resources, and small-scale actors must fish at levels and with practices that protect the resource over the long term.
  • States must include small-scale fishing communities in the design, planning and implementation of management systems to sustain fisheries and communities – and in particular must ensure that women are equitably included in all aspects of the process.
  • The post-harvest and trade sectors are just as critical to the security of SSF communities as fishing itself, and stakeholders from these sectors (particularly women, who are often more active in post-harvest than harvest roles) must be included in the design, planning and implementation of these parts of the value chain.
  • Special attention to social and economic development may be needed to ensure that often-marginalized SSF communities can have secure livelihoods and enjoy their human rights.
  • Governments need to put in place policies and plans to take into consideration the potential for significant risks to SSF communities from disasters and climate change.
  • All parties need to respect and make use of traditional knowledge, in addition to collecting and disseminating scientific research, in support of SSF; communicating the data in an efficient and transparent way is an essential component of sustainable management.
  • Small-scale fisheries also operate in near-shore environments of great ecological value, and thus high-quality fisheries management systems in those places also yield tangible environmental benefits.

The FAO developed the SSF Guidelines through a very broad and inclusive process of outreach and listening; the result was a document that truly reflects the concerns and aspirations of the people and communities who depend on these fisheries. EDF commends all involved for adoption of these important guidelines and looks forward to assisting in implementation.

Click here to view the full guidelines.

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5 Reasons for Hope on World Fisheries Day

bundle of fish

photo credit: tarotastic via photopin cc

Today is World Fisheries Day— a healthy reminder of how important fisheries are, regardless of where we live.

Wild fisheries must be managed and harvested sustainably in order to successfully rebuild global fish stocks and reliably feed the billions of people around the world who rely on them.

Innovative solutions are needed to establish sustainable fishing practices as the norm and to give a boost to coastal communities that rely on healthy fish stocks.

But today, global fisheries are tremendous pressure—to feed the world’s growing population and from the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.  There is, however, cause for optimism.  Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. In the United States, improved management—in part due to the flexibility and alignment of environmental, social and economic incentives that catch shares provide—is paying off.  Fish stocks are rebuilding, fishermen are finding innovative solutions to be more selective about the stocks they target and the value of commercial seafood landed in 2012 was almost 20% higher than the average of the last decade. Fishermen are also seeing increased revenue per vessel. NMFS recently released an economic study of fisheries managed under quota allotments which found revenue increases of 27% in the first year and 68% after 10 years of the program.  Read More.
  2. Earlier this year EDF examined successes from the United States and several other countries, such as Japan, Chile and Mexico, to assemble a comprehensive toolkit for designing and implementing management systems that can build resilient, profitable fisheries. This toolkit represents years of research and can deliver value to fishery managers around the world. Read More.
  3. After years of deliberation, the European Union has finalized proposals to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the EU’s framework for fisheries management.The new policy promises a better future for both fishermen and fish by providing a comprehensive management system designed to restore healthy marine environments while supporting profitable fisheries and thriving coastal communities. The new CFP, which will enter into force in January, calls for Member States to move to eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding fish at sea. It also requires fishing at sustainable, Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels, and supports a regionalized approach through decentralized decision-making. Read More.
  4. EDF is a proud founding member of an ambitious effort with the World Bank and more than 100 partners to bring 50% of the world’s wild fish under sustainable management in 10 years while increasing economic benefits by $20 billion annually.   This project represents impressive cooperation among countries, the private sector, NGOs and fishery stakeholders and can potentially transform the world’s fisheries and fishing communities. Read More.
  5. Many struggling or collapsed fisheries across the globe are already improving. The challenge is to replicate successful strategies and continue building partnerships with fishermen and other fishery stakeholders in the regions of the world where healthy fisheries are most essential. We are confident this can be achieved and will continue working to bring fishermen and managers together to find efficient, sustainable solutions that will work for both fish and fishermen. Read More.

We hope to have more progress to celebrate next year on World Fisheries Day.

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