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1. At the Fourth Session of the FAO Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research (ACFR), in December 2002, the Committee highlighted that small-scale fisheries had not received the research attention that they deserved considering the important contribution that they make to nutrition, food security, sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation, especially in developing countries. The Committee pointed out that although many of the issues such as user-rights, excess capacity, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, trade and incentives, governance, etc. are common across all fisheries, they need explicit attention in the small-scale fisheries (SSF) context. The Committee recommended that a working party be convened to elaborate a draft research agenda and undertake an evaluation of the role and importance of small-scale (marine) fisheries and outline ways in which the transition to responsible fisheries could be facilitated, bearing in mind the developing paradigm of Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF). The scope was later extended within the FAO Fisheries Department to also include estuarine and inland water capture fisheries.

2. The FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI), at its Twenty-fifth Session, 24-28 February 2003, considered “Strategies for increasing the sustainable contribution of small-scale fisheries to food security and poverty alleviation”. The Committee applauded FAO’s initiative to treat the small-scale fisheries sector as a stand-alone agenda item for the Committee’s attention, supporting the view of the last Session of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research. COFI strongly advocated that more efforts be made to support the small-scale fisheries sector, both inland and marine. The Committee welcomed the suggestion for the Organization to elaborate, in the context of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, technical guidelines on increasing the contribution of small-scale fisheries to food security and poverty alleviation. Lastly, the Committee recognized that there was linkage between EAF and small-scale fisheries management and suggested that FAO, through case studies on small-scale fisheries, develop an adaptive EAF tool box with rapid appraisal techniques, participatory processes, conflict resolution, integrated resource assessment and management, including co-management, and capacity-building.

3. In response to the above requests, the Director-General of FAO, Dr. Jacques Diouf, convened the ACFR Working Party on Small-scale Fisheries to undertake an evaluation of the role and importance of small-scale fisheries, elaborate a research agenda for the sector, review strategies and mechanisms to bridge the gap between research and action and provide views on key elements that should be included in the draft guidelines on small-scale fisheries.

4. The outcome of the Working Party will be presented to ACFR at its Fifth Session in the fourth quarter of 2004. This administrative report gives a summary of the Working Party’s outcomes and outputs.

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