Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication

Fisheries and aquaculture play a central role in food security; approximately 90 percent of fishers are small-scale. FAO will continue to support and empower small-scale fishers so that they can achieve their full potential by addressing the social, economic, and cultural needs of fishing communities while promoting responsible fisheries management. The Committee on Fisheries (COFI) has been calling for the development of an international instrument for securing small-scale fisheries since COFI 29. The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication were adopted this week, during COFI 31.

What are the proposed actions set out in the Voluntary Guidelines and how will they benefit small-scale fisheries?

COFI agreed that the SSF Guidelines (small-scale fisheries) should be voluntary, focus on the needs of developing countries, cover both fishing and related activities, and be relevant to marine and inland fisheries. Through workshops, e-consultations, global and regional conferences, research networks and partnerships, and in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations, the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department started a process of considering implementation issues more explicitly.

Areas of intervention include strengthening the capacity development of community-based organizations, cooperatives and advocacy groups and networks; supporting knowledge mobilization, leadership capabilities (of both men and women), research partnerships, use of effective communication tools (including new technologies and social media), and platforms and networks for experience sharing. Creating and supporting regional and national platforms for small-scale fishers and fish workers is also a key aim.

Most significantly, in 2011, the Committee agreed to the establishment and implementation of a Global Assistance Programme in support of sustainable small-scale fisheries.  The Global Assistance Programme encompasses 4 main components:

Raising awareness and providing policy support: knowledge products and outreach.
The success of the Voluntary Guidelines depends entirely on them being understood and reaching the relevant stakeholders. Priorities include the development of implementation guides, translation of the SSF Guidelines into local languages and use of social media, blogs etc. to promote discussion. FAO should engage strategically with actors and partners to influence their policies and funding priorities towards supporting SSF Guidelines implementation.

Strengthening the science-policy interface: sharing of knowledge and supporting policy reform.
To elevate the small-scale fisheries sector on the policy agenda, argumentations should be supported by data and information, e.g. value chain analysis, gender equality, and disaster risk and climate change considerations. These studies will be reinforced by best practices and lessons learnt, case studies on fisheries management and local development, in addition to technical support and assistance.

Empowering stakeholders: capacity development and institutional strengthening.
Developing capacity building is closely linked to empowerment and ensuring that small-scale fisheries actors and communities are able to take an active role in shaping the future of the sector and of their own livelihoods. This includes organizational development at community level as well as national and regional levels, establishing cross-sectoral linkages required for addressing development and resource management needs, in addition to training. 

Supporting implementation: programme management, collaboration and monitoring.
The development of a results-based programme management framework, international and regional meetings and web-based information sharing applications to enable effective collaboration and knowledge sharing as well as a comprehensive implementation monitoring system, are crucial to ensure successful implementation of the guidelines and positive results.

Read the full COFI document (in English only)