Re: Implementing the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries

Shannon Eldredge Cape Cod Community Supported Fishery, Estados Unidos de América


  1. Partnering for implementation

The implementation of the SSF Guidelines will require engagement and partnerships across different institutions, organizations and actors as the SSF Guidelines implementation does not only require the involvement by fishers but takes into consideration also the role and needs of those around them. Fishing communities, CSOs, academia, NGOs, governments, regional organizations, donors and international agencies and organizations all need to work together - but different actors may have different roles to play to address issues in relation to fisheries governance, gender, post-harvest, consumer interests, wider societal interests, etc. Please share any experiences, both good or bad as well as lessons learned related to partnerships in the implementation of international instruments

  • How do you see the role of your organization and others in the implementation of the SSF Guidelines?
    • Connecting policy change to seafood justice & sovereignty. The two go hand-in-hand, and we help bring consumers to that arena by building programs and awareness campaigns that they can participate in.
  • How can partnerships be fostered and strengthened to include the ‘voices of the marginalized?
  • The marginalized voices are strengthened by supporters from a broad range of industries around fishing. Work with those who are allies of small-scale fishers to help in awareness campaigns, policy making, programs.
  • What will be required at local, national, regional and global levels to ensure effective and efficient partnerships?
  1. Information and communication – promoting experience sharing and collaboration

Continuous learning and sharing of experiences will be of utmost importance for effective implementation. Available lessons learnt, 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 developed. Monitoring of progress will be important to keep track of what is working (and what is not) and participatory monitoring and evaluation systems and relevant statistics can help making information available and shared.

  • What best practices with regard to communication would you recommend for SSF Guidelines implementation at local, national, regional and global level?
    • Bottom-up, transparent communication through all channels is essential.
  • What are your experiences from participatory monitoring and evaluation?
    • Take into consideration what kind of organizations are doing the evaluations. How do their values compare to those that are being portrayed in their reports? Are monitors and evaluators employing objective methods to their assessments.
    • The threat of having fishermen pay for observers and monitors on board their vessels for the purpose of evaluating stocks is potentially damaging to that day’s earnings. So, monitoring of progress of these guidelines during fishing time should be completely paid for by grant-funded, objective partners who will not interfere with the wages or earnings of fishermen when they are working.
  • How can progress in implementing the SSF Guidelines be measured and reported in a useful way?
  • Fund organizations like Slow Fish, which have building networks of small-scale fishers internationally, to develop modes of communication that can be funneled to FAO.  Measuring progress is specific to the communities being observed, because different nations, different fisheries are at different stages in their development of programs, or destruction of ecosystem, or even just definitions of status quo. From each community participating in observations, there should be folks developing methods of measuring progress, and they should be in communication with folks from other communities around the world to glean ideas about how to monitor & report.
  1. Challenges and opportunities – needs for support and interventions

There will be implementation challenges (e.g. financial, political, institutional, cultural) to address but also opportunities to capitalize on. These may vary from one context to another and also differ between the global, regional, national and local levels. Understanding these challenges and opportunities will be important for identifying and designing support activities. The implementation of the SSF Guidelines will need a mix of different types of interventions, including – but not necessarily limited to – the strengthening of political commitment and awareness raising, changes in policies, revisions of legislation and/or regulations, development of capacity and empowerment, improving and sharing information, and strengthened research and communication.

  • What do you think the main implementation challenges are, generally as well as in a specific country context, and how could they be overcome?
    • Political commitment and revisions of legislation/regulations.
    • They could be overcome by transparency to the public on how policies are supported by the government, and in the process of creating those regulations. Also, small-scale fishers (individuals, not necessarily those “representing” certain NGOs who lobby for fishers) should hold office on committees and in councils to regulate and create policies that implement SSF Guidelines.
  • What are your experiences of addressing these types of challenges and what have been successful or unsuccessful strategies and approaches?
  • Experience has been a lot of resistance and corruption.
  • Unsuccessful strategies are trusting organizations that represent practices that are detrimental to small-scale, community-based fishing fleets.
  • Successful strategies are ones that have a keen ear toward independent fishers & crews whose survival incomes, daily livelihoods, could be directly impacted by major or minor policy shifts that implement SSF Guidelines.
  • Timeframes would vary drastically, as there are so many factors differentiating one community from the next, one fishery from the next, one nation from the next.
  • How would interventions vary, depending on the time frame (e.g. what can be done within the next 12 months, in the next 5 years, in the long term) and depending on the existing resources (e.g. small/medium investments or large/transformative investments)?