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In considering “Strategies for Increasing the Sustainable Contribution of Small-scale Fisheries to Food Security and Poverty Alleviation”, at its twenty-fifth session the FAO Committee on Fisheries (Rome, 24–28 February 2003) applauded FAO’s initiative to treat the small-scale fisheries sector as a stand-alone agenda item. COFI welcomed the suggestion that the Organization 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. In response FAO convened an Expert Consultation on the Role of Small-Scale Fisheries in Poverty Alleviation and Food Security, Rome, 5–8 July 2004 (FAO Fisheries Report No. 749).

The participants in the Expert Consultation were: Eddie Allison, Hans Bage, Claudia Stella Beltrán, Christophe Béné, William Emerson, Angel Gumy, Benoît Horemans, Helga Josupeit, Mousthapha Kebe, Aphichoke Kotikula, Blaise Kuemlangan, John Kurien, Audun Lem, Graeme Macfadyen, Ousmane Ndiaye, Francisco Pereira, Fabio Pittaluga, Eric Reynolds, Chandrika Sharma, Andrew Smith, Derek Staples, Somony Thay, Uwe Tietze, Philip Townsley, Benedict Satia, Ulrich Schmidt, Hiromoto Watanabe and Rolf Willmann.

On the basis of a comprehensive background document prepared by C.Béné, G. Macfadyen and E. Allison, the Consultation elaborated a detailed outline and provided its comments and proposed amendments to the text of the background document. This document then served as the basis for the preparation of these technical guidelines, the initial draft of which was prepared by G. Macfadyen. Comments on this draft were received from Kevern Cochrane, William Emerson, Serge Garcia, Benoît Horemans, Helga Josupeit, Audun Lem, Peter Manning, Rebecca Metzner, Eric Reynolds, Chandrika Sharma, Derek Staples, Jeremy Turner and Rolf Willmann. Peter Manning was responsible for the revision of the Guidelines.

The Consultation also recommended that a more comprehensive technical paper be prepared as a companion document to the guidelines (FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 481).

The Guidelines have been prepared with the support of the Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme - a partnership between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Department for International Development, FAO and 25 countries of West Africa - and of FishCode, FAO's umbrella programme for implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

FAO. 2005. Increasing the contribution of small-scale fisheries to poverty alleviation and food security . FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. No. 10. Rome, FAO. 79 pp.


The objectives of these Technical Guidelines are to provide a focus on small-scale fisheries and their current and potential role in contributing to poverty alleviation and food security by expanding on the guidance on small-scale fisheries offered by the Code. The Guidelines are complementary to existing Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries.
Most small-scale fishers are in developing countries and many live in communities characterized by poverty and food insecurity. Small-scale fishing communities are faced with an array of serious problems, including overexploitation and depletion of resources, lack of alternative sources of employment, rapid population growth, migration of populations, displacement in coastal areas due to industrial development and tourism, pollution and environmental degradation and conflicts with large commercial fishing operations. However, small-scale fisheries are critical for food security and poverty alleviation in many countries.
The first part of the Guidelines discusses the current contribution, role and importance of small-scale fisheries in poverty alleviation and food security. It examines the importance of small-scale fisheries for poverty alleviation at a national, local and household level. It also notes the nutritional qualities of fish and thus the particular role of fish in nutritional aspects of food security. The fact that about half of all fish caught for human consumption comes from small-scale fisheries underlines the importance of this sub-sector for the world fish supply. In many countries small-scale fisheries contribute to national food security both directly - where fish is a crucial part of the daily diet, and indirectly - by generating foreign exchange earnings that enable the purchase through trade of a range of food products.
The second part of the Guidelines explores ways through which the contribution of small-scale fisheries to poverty alleviation and food security could be enhanced. A vision for the future of small-scale fisheries is presented as a goal towards which the subsector should develop. Ensuring greater participation by small-scale fishers and their communities in the formulation of policies, the development of related legislation and regulations, and in management decision-making and implementation processes, is vital to the realization of this vision. The central role of effective fisheries management, the importance of considering cross-sectoral uses of fisheries and related resources, the special role of women in fish marketing, processing and value addition, the significant scope for trade, the critical role that adequate financing may have in enabling transitions for effective fisheries management and the role of knowledge in making informed decisions are all discussed in these Guidelines.

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