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Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication

The SSF Guidelines, the first negotiated international instrument dedicated specifically to small-scale fisheries, have been released in all six FAO official languages.

The development process started after the 29th Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) held in February 2011 where the role of small-scale fisheries as principal contributor in poverty eradication was strongly recognized. Between 2010 and 2013, FAO facilitated a global process that involved more than 4 000 representatives of Governments, small-scale fishers, fish workers and their organizations, researchers, development partners and other relevant stakeholders from more than 120 countries.

The SSF Guidelines represent a global consensus on steps needed to improve small-scale fisheries governance and development. They are voluntary and relevant to small-scale fisheries both in marine and inland waters.

The main objectives of the Guidelines (Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication [FAO], 2015, p.1) are:

a) to enhance the contribution of small-scale fisheries to global food security and nutrition and to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food, 

b) to contribute to the equitable development of small-scale fishing communities and poverty eradication and to improve the socio-economic situation of fishers and fish workers within the context of sustainable fisheries management, 

c) to achieve the sustainable utilization, prudent and responsible management and conservation of fisheries resources consistent with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (the Code) and related instruments, 

d) to promote the contribution of small-scale fisheries to an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for the planet and its people,

e) to provide guidance that could be considered by States and stakeholders for the development and implementation of ecosystem friendly and participatory policies, strategies and legal frameworks for the enhancement of responsible and sustainable small-scale fisheries, and

f) to enhance public awareness and promote the advancement of knowledge on the culture, role, contribution and potential of small-scale fisheries, considering ancestral and traditional knowledge, and their related constraints and opportunities.

These objectives should be achieved through the promotion of a human rights- based approach, by empowering small-scale fishing communities, including both men and women, to participate in decision-making processes, and to assume responsibilities for sustainable use of fishery resources, and placing emphasis on the needs of developing countries and for the benefit of vulnerable and marginalized groups. 

The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) in all 6 FAO languages can be found here

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