Inland Fisheries

Policy frameworks relevant to inland fisheries

The FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) was adopted in 1995 by the FAO Conference. In adopting the CCRF, the Conference called on FAO, states and all those involved in fisheries to implement the CCRF including relevant actions to achieve responsible fisheries. The CCRF sets out principles and international standards of behavior for responsible practices with a view to ensuring the effective conservation, management and development of living aquatic resources, with due respect for the ecosystem and biodiversity. The CCRF recognizes the nutritional, economic, social, environmental and cultural importance of fisheries and the interests of all stakeholders of the fishing and aquaculture industries. The CCRF takes into account the biological characteristics of the resources and their environment and the interests of consumers and other users. A variety of instruments have been established within the framework of the CCRF. The CCRF is voluntary rather than mandatory, and aimed at everyone working in, and involved with, fisheries and aquaculture, irrespective of whether they are located in inland areas or in the oceans. Because the CCRF is voluntary, it is necessary to ensure that all people working in fisheries and aquaculture commit themselves to its principles and goals and take practical measures to implement them. The CCRF  covers inland fisheries and there are a number of   technical guidelines issued that relate to inland fisheries issues.

The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (the SSF Guidelines) is the first internationally agreed instrument dedicated entirely to the small-scale fisheries sector.  The SSF Guidelines complement the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which, alongside the fishing provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, is the most widely recognized and implemented international fisheries instrument. The SSF Guidelines are also closely related to the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forestry in the Context of National Food Security, the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security, and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems. The SSF Guidelines place a high priority on the realization of human rights and on the need to attend to vulnerable and marginalized groups. 

The Aichi Targets are a set of 20 global targets under the Convention  for  Biodiversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. They are grouped under five strategic goals. The main targets which  relate to  inland fisheries are Target 6 and Target 11.

Target 6: By 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem based approaches, so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits.

Target 11:  By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

Two other targets (8  and 9) have implications for aquatic ecosystems and are also relevant: 

Target 8: By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity.

Target 9: By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.

The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.  The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”. The RAMSAR convention is relevant to  inland fisheries through  linkages to aquatic habitats and wetlands (e.g. swamps, marshes, wet rice production systems, flooded forests and peatlands).

CMS is an environmental treaty under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, It provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.  CMS is the only global convention dedicated to the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration routes. Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the Convention. CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention.  For these species, the Convention encourages the Range States to conclude global or regional agreements. CMS-Listed migratory species of particular relevance to inland fisheries include those directly targeted by fishing or impacted by interference in migration routes or habitat (e.g. many sturgeon species, Chinese paddlefish, Shovelnose, European eel and the Giant  Mekong Catfish). 

The UN Watercourses Convention (UNWC)  is a global treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1997. It is a framework convention governing international watercourses. The UNWC constitutes a global legal mechanism for facilitating the equitable and sustainable management transboundary rivers and lakes around the world. The Convention’s principal objective is to strengthen cooperation between states over their shared water resources following key principles of international law and prevent potential conflicts. The UNWC entered into force on the 17th of August 2014. There are some case examples of how the UNWC may  apply to inland fisheries in transboundary  waters.