Committee on Fisheries
Thirty-sixth Session, 8-12 July 2024
Rome, Italy

The Committee on Fisheries (COFI), a subsidiary body of the FAO Council, was established by the FAO Conference in 1965.

It is the only global inter-governmental forum where FAO Members meet to review and consider the issues and challenges related to fisheries and aquaculture.

COFI is a unique body in that it provides periodic global recommendations and policy advice to governments, regional fishery bodies, civil society organizations, and actors from the private sector and international community.

The Committee has fostered the development and adoption of several binding agreements as well as non-binding instruments that have reshaped how the sector works in the interests of resource sustainability (including biodiversity conservation).

35th session - Key highlights

35th session - Key highlights

The sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in the context of a changing climate, a better use of biodiversity, ensuring equitable growth for small scale operators and the elimination IUU fishing, will be among the major issues to be discussed at COFI 35.

FAO’s flagship State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report SOFIA 2022  will provide participants with a comprehensive overview of trends and projections in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, and there will be further discussion on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries that has been guiding efforts to advance sustainable fisheries and aquaculture around the world for decades.

To support the implementation of the Code, the Committee will call on countries to endorse the first Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment, a new instrument that will provide FAO Members and organizations with critical standards to apply in their policies and regulations. 

Regulating, monitoring and controlling transshipment contribute to tighten the loopholes that enable fish derived from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing to enter the market.

The 35th session will require countries to discuss the establishment of a sub-committee on fisheries management to support dialogue on governance and management solutions for the conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources. The session will also discuss the development of Sustainable Aquaculture Guidelines, an instrument that will leverage the sector’s potential to sustainably supply the global demand for aquatic foods from a growing population.

To mark the International Year for Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, a high-level event will discuss the critical contribution that small-scale fishers and fish farmers make to the livelihoods of entire communities around the world, especially in developing countries.

Equity, resilience and sustainability will be the key principles driving debates and discussions at COFI35, supporting the use of knowledge, tools and practices that can secure and expand the contribution of aquatic food systems to global food security and employment.

Despite the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, global fisheries and aquaculture production is at a record-high.
Growth is being driven by aquaculture, the fastest growing food production system in the world.
The primary fisheries and aquaculture sector employs 58.5 million people, 21 percent of them are women.
When considering the entire aquatic value chain, women account for 50 percent of all those employed.
It is estimated that 600 million people depend at least partially on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihood.
Despite the contribution they make to the sector, many small-scale producers, especially women, remain vulnerable and have insecure working conditions.
Today we fish almost 3000 species and farm around 650 species. This demonstrates the unique diversity of aquatic food systems.
Aquatic products are among the most internationally traded foods.
Excluding algae, global trade of fisheries and aquaculture products generated $151 billion in 2020, a 7% decline caused by COVID-19 disruptions.
Global consumption of aquatic animals has risen from an average 9,9 kg per capita in the 1960s to 20.2 kg in 2020.
Aquatic animal consumption has more than doubled compared to 50 years ago and is expected to grow by another 15 percent by 2030 as a result of rising incomes, growing urbanization and changes in dietary trends.
Although fishery resources continue to decline due to overfishing, pollution, poor management and ecosystem degradation, the number of landings from biologically sustainable stocks is on the rise.
Effective management is the most efficient tool for the conservation and sustainable use of fishery resources.
Future growth of the sector must be guided by resilience, sustainability and equitability to satisfy the global demand for aquatic foods, especially in food deficit regions.
We all depend on aquatic food systems for our survival: sustainable development, expansion and management of aquatic food systems must be the foundation of a Blue Transformation.
Blue Transformation is a vision to enhance the role of the sector in ending poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

Key publications

Blue Transformation – A vision for resilient, equitable and sustainable aquatic food systems