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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum


How to monitor implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries?

In 2014, the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). They are a set of recommendations to states and other actors on how to make small-scale fisheries more sustainable. Key issues in the SSF Guidelines include allocating tenure rights equitably; managing resources responsibly; supporting social development and decent work; empowering fish workers along the entire value chain; promoting gender equality; and addressing climate change and disaster risks. The SSF Guidelines are the result of a participatory development process that brought together small-scale fisheries actors, governments, academia, NGOs, regional organizations and many other stakeholders. Their content reflects what these actors have identified as key issues for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries, as well as related guidance on how to address those issues.

The implementation of the SSF Guidelines will require engagement with and partnerships across different institutions, organizations and actors, which will have different roles to play to address issues in relation to fisheries governance, gender, post-harvest, food security and nutrition and other wider societal interests.

But, how can we know that the SSF Guidelines have an effect?

In chapter 13, the SSF Guidelines explicitly refer to the need for monitoring of their implementation. FAO is working towards developing guidance for measuring progress at the national level of the implementation of the SSF Guidelines. This e-consultation aims to solicit views, recommendations, suggestions, and good practices for monitoring the implementation of the SSF Guidelines. Your knowledge about and experience with small-scale fisheries is valuable as we work to develop a relevant, realistic and useful tool for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the SSF Guidelines.

Please share your opinions on what parts of the SSF Guidelines should be monitored and how. What defines progress towards securing sustainable small-scale fisheries? How can we measure progress? What would be meaningful and feasible indicators in your opinion? And, who would you suggest is suited to do the measuring? What could participatory monitoring look like?

We look forward to your insights and contributions. Thank you in advance for your time!

Nicole Franz, Amber Himes-Cornell and Katy Dalton

for the FAO SSF Guidelines Secretariat



We would like your feedback on the three topics and related guiding questions presented below.

Background information and links to relevant documents related to the SSF Guidelines, their context and the process by which they have been developed, are available at:

To help us analyze your comments, please indicate clearly to which topic(s) you are responding.

1. Defining progress towards securing sustainable small-scale fisheries

The SSF Guidelines are divided into three parts. Part 1 sets out the overall objectives, the scope, the guiding principles and the relationship with other instruments. Part 2 covers five thematic areas, namely responsible governance of tenure and sustainable resource management; social development, employment and decent work; value chains, post-harvest and trade; gender equality; disaster risks and climate change. Part 3 provides guidance for ensuring an enabling environment and supporting implementation addresses policy coherence, institutional coordination and collaboration; information, research and communication; capacity development; and implementation support and monitoring.

  • What do you think are the 5 most relevant chapters, paragraphs, and/or topics of the SSF Guidelines for assessing progress towards securing sustainable small-scale fisheries?
  • Please describe why you believe these chapters, paragraphs, and/or topics are most relevant.
  • At what geographical scale should progress be measured (e.g. local, national)?

2. Meaningful and feasible indicators: How can we measure progress?

There are many ways to measure progress - using quantitative or qualitative indicators that focus on outputs, processes and other aspects. In order to avoid additional burden and costs in relation to data and information collection it may be good to explore existing indicators for related global or national or sub-national objective and initiatives that relate to the issues addressed in the SSF Guidelines and the principles they are based on (e.g. for the Sustainable Development Goals, or national food security and development plans).

  • Do you have suggestions for indicators that could be used to assess progress towards the priorities you identified under part 1? Please discuss whether you consider these indicators mandatory versus “nice to have.”
  • If possible, please provide examples of where the indicators you suggest have been used successfully, including in data- and capacity-limited contexts.
  • Please describe any monitoring and evaluation frameworks and data sources you are aware of that could be drawn on to measure these indicators.

3. Participatory monitoring: Key elements and experiences

Continuous learning and sharing of experiences is crucial for the effective implementation of the SSF Guidelines. Available lessons learned, best practices and tools should be used and reinventing the wheel avoided, but at the same time, the local context may differ to such a degree that specific tools and solutions must be modified or developed. Monitoring of progress will be important to keep track of what is working (and what is not) and participatory monitoring can help making information available and shared.

Please share any experiences, both good and bad, as well as lessons learned related to participatory monitoring.

  • What do you think are key elements of successful participatory monitoring?
  • What are your experiences with participatory monitoring?
  • Who should be the key actors involved in or responsible for the design and implementation of a monitoring system for the SSF Guidelines?
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