Committee on Fisheries
Thirty-fourth Session, 1-5 February 2021
Rome, Italy

The Committee on Fisheries (COFI), a subsidiary body of the FAO Council, was established by the FAO Conference in 1965.

It is the only global inter-governmental forum where FAO Members meet to review and consider the issues and challenges related to fisheries and aquaculture.

COFI is a unique body in that it provides periodic global recommendations and policy advice to governments, regional fishery bodies, civil society organizations, and actors from the private sector and international community.

The Committee has fostered the development and adoption of several binding agreements as well as non-binding instruments that have reshaped how the sector works in the interests of resource sustainability (including biodiversity conservation).

34th session - Key highlights

34th session - Key highlights

COFI 34 will mark the 25th Anniversary of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, a key instrument that has been guiding the drive towards sustainable fisheries and aquaculture around the world.

The 25th anniversary comes at a challenging time as climate change, biodiversity loss, unregulated practices and increased competition for the use of marine, inland and coastal areas are threatening our aquatic ecosystems and their precious resources.

Urgent action is needed.

The Committee will table a Declaration for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, for possible adoption. The Declaration will outline a vision of how aquatic natural resources can be used more sustainably and effectively, to attain food security and nutrition.

By seeking science-based solutions, technological innovation, value chain developments and free market access, as well as safe and decent working conditions for all actors in the sector, the Declaration will lay the basis for a global vision for the transformation of blue ecosystems, as we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key topics on the COFI agenda will include: the current state of fisheries and aquaculture, the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, aquaculture biosecurity and sustainable growth, the role of small-scale fisheries and the livelihood of coastal communities, as well as illegal fishing and fish operations at sea.


Global consumption of fish has increased by 122% since 1990.
Aquaculture and mariculture are the fastest growing sectors of the global food industry. They both play a crucial role in meeting consumers’ ever-increasing appetite for fish.
Excluding aquatic plants, aquaculture production has increased by 527% since 1990.
Fish is one of the most internationally traded foods, with a total export value of $165 billion in 2018, up from $36 billion in 1990.
The importance of fisheries and aquaculture goes beyond nutrition: they support the livelihoods of about 10% of the world’s population.
An estimated 97% of people who depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihood, live in developing countries.
Women account for about 50% of the workers in the fisheries and aquaculture primary and secondary post-harvest and service sectors.
Small-scale fishers are among the world’s most vulnerable and often receive a smaller share of the economic benefits of the sector than the processors and retailers they serve.
Sustainable fisheries are also about the health of our aquatic ecosystems, and the livelihoods they support.
We all depend on blue ecosystems for our survival. Yet, there is little awareness of the strong link between their health and our own well-being.
Blue ecosystems are facing a wide range of cumulative threats: from pollution to overfishing, from global warming to the ecosystems degradation.
All our aquatic resources should be assessed and managed effectively and in ways that reflect the complexity and uniqueness of their ecosystems and habitats.
Evidence shows that fisheries stocks recover and flourish where intensive management regimes are in place.
Effective management will increase long-term sustainability of capture fisheries and aquaculture practices and could increase global production by 15% by 2030.

Key publications

Talking Oceans and Climate Change