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Fisheries policy must address all social issues
Fisheries policy must address all social issues

Putting society into policy

Sound management actions that are meant to responsibly steward fisheries and aquaculture development should also seek to take into account a vast range of social issues: from food security to trade to environment to fishing rights. While these issues are broad and vary from individual to collective concerns, policies formed to help those who depend on fisheries and aquaculture for livelihood and well-being -- whether directly or indirectly -- should not ignore social objectives.

Globalization presents both opportunities and threats to responsible fisheries and poverty reduction among fishing-dependent communities. Governing fisheries involves much more than applying fisheries laws and policies. A fishery system is governed by factors affecting the rights and livelihoods of the people who fish, the trade in fishery products and services, the environment the fish live in and the national economic and political context within which the sector operates.

Fishing livelihoods are potentially influenced by a range of human rights, which are defined or referred to in a number of instruments including international and national laws, codes and agreements on gender equity, rights to decent work, the rights of the child and those of transboundary migrants.

Considerations in supporting management measures

The increasing influence of global governance instruments, coupled with local empowerment, allows fishery stakeholders to take advantage of opportunities to improve fishery management and development outcomes. For example, governments can be held to account for their commitment to global agreements on working conditions, environmental standards and poverty reduction policies.

Measures to restructure the fishing industry and reduce fishing effort in response to the overall state of fish stocks imply short term social and economic consequences but at even greater costs to the ecosystem resources in the long run. The implementation of fishing effort limitations within management frameworks can lead to substantial short-term impact on economic activity in the sector. For example, limiting the number of days fishing vessels could spend at sea can reduce income for affected vessel owners and crews. In cases where vessels may have to be tied up for periods so long as to make them unprofitable, their owners may want to opt for permanent withdrawal of the vessel.

Proposing measures that can improve living and working conditions, establish equitable social protection and benefits and offer alternative livelihood options, as well as specific measures in favour of small-scale fishers to mobilize resources for training and capacity-building, are all positive steps to include social dimensions in fisheries and aquaculture development.

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