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Why International Guidelines on Small-Scale Fisheries

The 29th Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) held in February 2011 recommended that an international instrument on small-scale fisheries be developed. This is based on the increasing recognition of small-scale fisheries as a principal contributor to poverty alleviation and food security and the guidance provided by a number of global and regional conferences and consultative meetings exploring how to better bring together responsible fisheries and social development in coastal and inland fishing communities.

The Guidelines will be voluntary, focus on the needs of developing countries, and relevant to small-scale fisheries in marine and inland waters covering fishing as well as related post-harvest and upstream activities. They will be in support of national, regional and international initiatives for poverty alleviation and equitable social and economic development, for improving governance of fisheries and promoting sustainable resource utilization. Their objective is to provide advice and recommendations, establish principles and criteria, and information to assist States and stakeholders to achieve secure and sustainable small-scale fisheries and related livelihoods.

The Guidelines will be developed through a consultative process involving governments, regional organisations, civil society organisations, and small-scale fishers, fish workers and their communities.

The history

The Global Conference on Small-Scale Fisheries – Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries: Bringing together responsible fisheries and social development, co-organized by FAO and the Royal Government of Thailand and convened in collaboration with the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) and The WorldFish Center in Bangkok in 2008 reinforced the claim that small-scale fisheries have yet to fully realize their potential to significantly contribute to sustainable development and the attaining of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The conference reaffirmed that human rights are critical to achieving sustainable development and called for an international instrument on small-scale fisheries.

In considering the outcome of that Conference at the 28th Session of COFI in 2009, many FAO Members expressed the need for an international instrument on small-scale fisheries that would guide national and international efforts to secure sustainable small-scale fisheries and create a framework for monitoring and reporting.

In October 2010 FAO convened three regional workshops for Africa, Asia and Pacific, and Latin America and Caribbean to consult with national and regional stakeholders, both from governments and civil society, to identify good practices in the governance of small-scale fisheries and to provide their views on how small-scale artisanal fisheries can be best supported and enabled to fulfill their potential. The consultative process was intended to result in a high level of ownership of a possible international instrument by national and regional stakeholders, as recommended in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The potential of a new instrument to strengthen the social pillar of sustainable development in a gender-sensitive manner and to effectively complement the CCRF within a framework of a human rights-based development framework was well recognized by the regional workshops.

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