Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries
In recent years, the international community has reviewed on several occasions issues related to small-scale fishing communities, including their low profile in national policies and fisherfolks’ vulnerable and precarious living and working conditions. It has also recommended practical strategies for creating an enabling environment to better fisheries livelihoods and increasing this sector’s contribution to poverty alleviation and food security.
Supported by recent Sessions of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI), the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department has increased its inter-disciplinary efforts aiming at overcoming main constraints affecting the small scale fisheries sector.
Increasing the profile of small scale fisheries through information
The FAO Strategy for improving information on status and trends of capture fisheries adopted by COFI in 2003 recognizes that many small-scale fisheries are not well monitored and awareness needs to be raised on the importance of monitoring these fisheries. Being under-represented in current fisheries status and trends information, these fisheries are not adequately considered in the development of plans and policies for fisheries. The following project activities address this concern:
Develop optimal approaches for assessing the resources and fisheries in high diversity, data-poor situations for the provision of management advice on multispecies fisheries (marine fisheries)
At its 27th Session (2007), COFI expressed its support for a strategy of action aimed at bringing together responsible fisheries with social development to strengthen capacity and incentives of fisherfolk to invest in defending their fishing rights. The Department is active on the following areas which match the principles supported by COFI.
Securing sustainable resources use for present and future generations, and demonstrating value of resources
COFI (2007) supported principles: addressing over-exploitation that threatens resource sustainability and the flow of benefits from fisheries to the wider economy is the priority objective of a shift towards rights-based fishing. As well, defining rights to fish, the rights of present and future generations to benefit from the resources should be included. Building the value of the resources should be an explicit objective of fisheries management in the small-scale sub-sector.
On-going field projects:
Managing transition to rights-based approach including access to resources, markets and social empowerment
COFI (2007) supported principles:
A rights-based approach, in defining and allocating rights to fish, would also address the broader human rights of fishers to an adequate livelihood and would therefore include poverty-reduction criteria as a key component of decisions over equitable allocation of rights, including in decisions over inclusion and exclusion, gender equality, and the protection of small-scale fishworkers’ access to resources and markets. It would also include addressing deficiencies in fishing people’s rights of equitable access to health care, education, justice and the rule of law. Transition to rights-based fishing requires relationships between fishing rights holders and duty-bearers (such as governments) to be transparent and based on mutual trust and accountability. This requires empowerment of fishing communities, both through their social inclusion and building their capabilities. There is a specific need to protect the poor from adverse impacts of the transition to rights-based fisheries management.
On-going field projects:
→ On protection of small-scale fishworkers' access to resources:
→ On improving market access for groups and cooperatives
→ On improving small-scale fishermen livelihoods
Increased sectoral integration of small scale fisheries for maximized contribution of fisheries to poverty alleviation.
COFI (2007) supported principles: in countries where fisheries make significant economic contributions, integrating responsible fisheries policies with wider poverty reduction policies, such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, is a necessary condition to achieve inter-sectoral policy coherence and maximise the contribution of fisheries to meeting poverty targets such as the Millennium Development Goals. It is also important for ensuring that fisheries agencies receive a fair allocation of central and local government budgets.
On going project activities at global level:
On going projects at national level:
As part of the above mentioned Strategy, the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department will organize a broad-based international conference focussing specifically on small-scale fisheries.