To help get this conversation started, I would like to point out a study I did in 2003 for FAO: “Fish Trade, Food Security, and the Human Right to Adequate Food”.
The abstract reads:
“In global fish trade, large volumes of fish are exported from poorer countries to richer countries. This trade can affect food security in different ways for different parties, depending on the particular local circumstances. In assessing the impacts of fisheries trade on food security, it is important to distinguish among the impacts on fish workers and their communities, on the general population, and on the poor, who are the most vulnerable to malnutrition. The benefits of fisheries trade are likely to be enjoyed primarily by those whose are already well off. The poor may benefit, but they may also be hurt. At times the harm may be quite direct, as when fish on which they had depended for their diet is diverted to overseas markets. At times the impacts may be indirect, as when export oriented fisheries deplete or otherwise harm fisheries that had traditionally been used to provide for local consumption. Export-oriented fisheries may divert resources such as labor and capital away from production for local consumption. Fish workers may benefit from new export oriented fisheries if they participate in them, but in some cases these workers are simply displaced from their traditional livelihoods. The human right to adequate food is now well articulated in international human rights law. Under this law, national governments and other agencies are required to respect, protect, facilitate, and fulfill the right to adequate food. This means that public agencies that oversee the management of fisheries, including fish trade, are obligated to assure that these activities contribute to the achievement of food security, especially for those who are most vulnerable to malnutrition. To this end, it would be useful for the international community to provide guidance on how this can be done. The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries could be elaborated to provide this guidance, giving particular attention to the impacts of fish trade on food security.”
In 2012 the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food presented a report to the General Assembly giving a broader perspective on the right to food in relation to fisheries, available at
These documents raise some of the issues that should be considered in the forthcoming HLPE report on The Role of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food Security and Nutrition.
Aloha, George Kent
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