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APFIC/FAO Regional consultative workshop “Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries: Bringing together responsible fisheries and social development”

Category Development & policy advice

The Asia-Pacific Regional Consultative Workshop on ‘Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries: Bringing together responsible fisheries and social development’ was held from 6 to 8 October 2010, at the Windsor Suites Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand. The 72 participants came from a cross section of fisheries sector stakeholders including from 20 countries and 12 Regional Fisheries Bodies and Regional Organizations and 14 fish workers’ organizations, disaster preparedness and response agencies, and other civil society organizations. The workshop’s objectives were to receive guidance from regional and national stakeholders on the nature, principles and key thematic areas of a possible international instrument to plan, implement and report on securing sustainability in small-scale fisheries. The workshop was further tasked to develop high priority actions and identify potential gaps in the implementation of good governance practices in small-scale fisheries and related assistance needs. In order to develop the guidance, the workshop focussed on the following themes:

Good Practices in the Governance of Small-Scale Fisheries, with a Focus on Rights-Based Approaches

Gender and Small-Scale Fisheries in Asia and the Pacific: Considerations, Issues and Good Practices

Good practices in applying the ecosystem approach to small-scale fisheries

Reducing vulnerability of fishing and fish farming communities to disasters and climate change impacts (this included the findings from the one-day Disaster Risk Management pre-meeting held prior to the workshop).

The workshop concluded the rights of fishers, fishing communities and small-scale fishers were various and many are already internationally recognized. Detailed coverage of important rights for supporting small-scale fisheries were identified and these were clustered under the following categories:

Right to livelihood & social protection

Right to good governance

Rights to manage resources

Right to access & tenure

Right to decent and safe, labour & working conditions

The rights identified as essential for the support of small-scale fisheries are underpinned by a number of Key Principles including the following:

Principle of Subsidiarity

Transparency and accountability

Gender equality

Respect for traditional/indigenous knowledge and local wisdom

Formal integration of small-scale fisheries into rural development policies

Policies and interventions associated with disaster risk management (DRM) and climate change (CC) should take into account and respond to the specific needs of the small-scale fisheries sector

Appropriate consultation mechanisms

Prior and informed consent

Consensus should be built on approaches, systems and strategies to address the needs of small-scale fisheries in relation to disaster preparedness (including prevention and mitigation), response and rehabilitation

Engagement and consultation with NGO’s and CBO in support of small-scale fisheries

NGO’s concerned with small-scale fisheries should be afforded the opportunity to fully participate in planning and implementation of relevant legislation, policies and programmes

Approaches, systems and strategies should reflect the needs and requirements of different stakeholders in small-scale fisheries, including men, women and children involved in capture, post harvest and ancillary work

Taking into account the human rights and key principles, a number of goals for the small-scale fisheries sector were identified. These goals should be informed by the UN Millennium Development Goals and include the following:

Management of small-scale fisheries ensures that human well-being is balanced with ecological well-being

Security from external threats (pollution, industrial fishing, displacement)

Ensure that larger-scale operations do not undermine small-scale fisheries and respect the human rights based approach and gender dimension

Reduction of conflicts with other resource users

Elimination of child labour

Promotion of decent and safe work and employment

Reduced vulnerability of fishing communities to natural disasters and CC impacts

Enhanced capacity small-scale fisheries communities with regard to CC adaptation

Reducing the carbon footprint and negative environmental impacts of small-scale fisheries

Ensure equitable benefits to small-scale fisheries from development of tourism, aquaculture and conservation efforts etc.

Ensuring that the benefits of the fishery trade lead to human development

Ensuring that fisheries trade promotes human development

Secured access to markets for small-scale fisheries products

Products of small-scale fisheries meet food hygiene requirement

Diversifying livelihoods to reduce dependency on fisheries resources

 Increasing the voice, choice and capacity of small-scale fisheries to take up alternative livelihood opportunities

The participants agreed that the proposed instrument should be a code or guidelines developed by international consensus which would inform a global programme of assistance. The international instrument would form the basis for the development of regional, national and local guidelines and plans of action for small-scale fisheries. The synthesized outcomes of this and the other two regional consultative workshops will be presented to the 29th Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries in January/February 2011. 

FAO. 2010. Report of the APFIC/FAO Regional Consultative Workshop “Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries: Bringing together responsible fisheries and social development”, Bangkok, Thailand, 6-8 October 2010. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. RAP Publication 2010/19. 56 pp.