Committee on Fisheries
Thirty-fifth Session, 5-9 September 2022
Rome, Italy

Key publications

Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

From ancient times, fishing has been a major source of food for humanity and a provider of employment and economic benefits to those engaged in this activity. The wealth of aquatic resources was assumed to be an unlimited gift of nature. However, with increased knowledge and the dynamic development of fisheries after the second world war, this myth has faded in face of the realization that aquatic resources, although renewable, are not infinite and need to be properly managed, if their contribu tion to the nutritional, economic and social well-being of the growing world's population is to be sustained. The widespread introduction in the mid-seventies of exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and the adoption in 1982, after long deliberations, of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provided a new framework for the better management of marine resources. The new legal regime of the ocean gave coastal States rights and responsibilities for the management and use of fishery re sources within their EEZs which embrace some 90 percent of the world's marine fisheries. Such extended national jurisdiction was a necessary but insufficient step toward the efficient management and sustainable development of fisheries. Many coastal States continued to face serious challenges as, lacking, experience and financial and physical resources, they sought to extract greater benefits from the fisheries within their EEZs.

Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries - Trends over the last 25 years

Fishing and aquaculture provide a vital source of food, employment, trade and economic well-being for people throughout the world, for present and future generations, and should therefore be conducted in a responsible manner. The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (the Code) sets out principles and international standards for responsible practices supporting the sustainable exploitation and production of living aquatic resources, with due consideration for the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity, and recognising the nutritional, economic, social, environmental and cultural importance of fisheries. Twenty-five years after its adoption, the Code remains as relevant today as it was in 1995. This booklet offers a glimpse into the objectives of the Code and the framework of instruments and guidelines that have, over the last 25 years, been built on the Code and in support of the implementation of its wide-ranging provisions. It also provides insights into some trends that can be observed through reporting by FAO Members on its implementation.

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022

Towards Blue Transformation - The 2022 edition of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture coincides with the launch of the Decade of Action to deliver the Global Goals, the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. It presents how these and other equally important United Nations events, such as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022), are being integrated and supported through Blue Transformation, a priority area of FAO’s new Strategic Framework 2022–2031 designed to accelerate achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in food and agriculture.

FAO and marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) process

FAO is actively engaged in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) through projects and initiatives for which it provides assistance to Member Nations and relevant international organizations. This document presents information on the work of FAO that is relevant to the BBNJ process, including ongoing processes and initiatives, and lessons learned, which may be informative and useful for BBNJ Delegates and others. This information may also be a useful indication of areas where FAO may assist Member Nations in the implementation of the future international legally binding instrument (ILBI).

Transshipment: a closer look

The in-depth Study on Transshipment responded to ongoing concerns by COFI and the international community regarding the risks posed by transshipment that IUU sourced fish may be introduced into the marketing chain. This brochure presents the key features of the study: including the approach adopted and main findings.

Transshipment: a closer look

An in-depth study in support of the development of international guidelines - Transshipment is a widespread practice in marine capture fisheries, that has recently been associated with a possible risk of introducing catches derived from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing into the supply chain. This in-depth study was carried out in order to shed more light on the practice and make recommendations to inform future discussions on the development of international guidelines for the regulation, monitoring and control of transshipment. The report presents a background to the study, its approach and methodology, the key findings including possible elements of the guidelines, and discusses the main issues from the perspective of the risk of transshipment in supporting IUU fishing.

Understanding and implementing catch documentation schemes

A guide for national authorities - The document contains chapters on the legal and policy background to CDS, an introduction to the features and requirements of existing schemes, as well as guidance on how to handle CDS information requirements and identify national key data elements. Finally, it provides a series of exercises for assessing relevant national capabilities and coordination processes, including the management and exchange of information.

Key successes Common Oceans ABNJ Program 2014-2019 - To contribute to meet these goals, the Common Oceans ABNJ Program brought together global stakeholders and partners to promote the sustainable use of fisheries and the protection of marine biodiversity in the ABNJ. The Program, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), involved the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank Group (WBG), as well as Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) and other intergovernmental organizations, national governments, the private sector, civil society and academia. This report presents the results obtained by the Common Oceans ABNJ Program between 2014-2019. It highlights the value, importance and benefits of sustainably managing fisheries and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ, and how the collateral impact of fishing is less harmful to the marine environment now than when the program started out in 2014.

While diversified aquaculture could reduce both biological and financial risks, the private sector may lack incentives to diversify the species composition of aquaculture production because developing or adopting new species tends to be costly and risky. Conversely, concentrating on the most efficient species can benefit from economies of scale in both production and marketing. With ever-growing concerns over climate change, disease outbreaks, market fluctuations and other uncertainties, species diversification has become an increasingly prominent strategy for sustainable aquaculture development. Policy and planning on species diversification require a holistic, sector-wide perspective to assess the overall prospect of individually promising species that may not be entirely successful when competing for limited resources and markets. The historical experiences of species diversification in global aquaculture can provide guidance for the assessment. This paper develops a benchmarking system to examine species diversification patterns in around 200 countries for three decades to generate information and insights in support of evidence-based policy and planning in aquaculture development. The system uses “effective number of species” (ENS) as a diversity measure that is essentially equivalent to, yet more intuitive than, the widely used Shannon Index. A statistical model is established to estimate a benchmark ENS for each country and construct a benchmarking species diversification index (BSDI) to compare a country’s species diversification with global experiences. Key results are presented and discussed in the main text; and more comprehensive results are documented in Appendix II. The benchmarking system can be used in foresight analyses to help design or refine future production targets (including species composition) in policy and planning for aquaculture development; an example is provided in Appendix I to help practitioners better understand and utilize the system.

This Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GPA) was developed by FAO at the request of the members of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in response to the needs and challenges identified in the first global assessment of the status of Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (AqGR). It was developed following broad consultation with the regions and, following endorsement by the Commission, was formally adopted by FAO members at the 168th session of the FAO Council. The GPA is voluntary and non-binding and aims to promote effective management of AqGR ensuring that it makes a significant contribution to food security and sustainable development and to the alleviation of poverty and is targeted at all stakeholders in aquaculture, with a focus on resource managers and policy makers. The GPA has two parts, the first part introduces and sets the context for the importance of AqGR to sustainable aquaculture and future food security. The second part identifies strategic priorities and recommends actions under four priority areas: i) characterization, inventory and monitoring; ii) conservation and sustainable use; iii) development of AqGR for aquaculture; and iv) policies, institutions, capacity building and cooperation.

This brief presents an overview of the inland capture fisheries sector in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), describes historical and current trends, highlights management successes and failures, identifies common constraints and opportunities, and provides recommendations to ensure that the full potential of the sector is realised. Inland capture fisheries in the SADC region are estimated to support over a million people and contribute significantly to food and nutrition security, employment, livelihoods, and human welfare. They also provide a range of important socio-cultural and ecosystem services that contribute directly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These benefits are particularly important in a region that faces a number of dire socioeconomic challenges including extreme poverty, acute malnutrition, and a lack of alternative livelihoods.

The impact of COVID-19 on fisheries and aquaculture food systems, possible responses

The purpose of this information paper is to update information on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the fisheries and aquaculture sector and the measures taken, to inform on the ongoing impact on the fisheries and aquaculture food systems, and responses from seafood providers and governments to counteract the negative impacts on seafood chains.

See the full list of policy briefs related to COVID-19.

CITES and the sea - Trade in commercially exploited CITES-listed marine species

Fish and fish products are amongst the most highly traded food items in the world today, with most of the world’s countries reporting some fish trade. This assessment of commercial trade in CITES-listed marine species occurs within a broader context of globalization and a more general rapid expansion of the international trade in fish and fish products. It summarizes ten years (2007–2016) of trade in a subset of commercially exploited marine taxa listed in CITES Appendix II. We examine both CITES trade data reporting processes (including information on the practical elements of reporting by CITES Parties) and analyse CITES trade records. The analysis shows how, for Appendix II CITES-listed marine species, the overall number of direct export transactions reported by CITES Parties has increased sevenfold during 1990–2016 and how trade for each CITES-listed marine species sub-group has changed through time. An assessment is made, with assistance from species and trade experts, on the strengths and challenges of collating and reporting on trade in CITES-listed marine species. Additional datasets of relevance to marine species trade are highlighted, and recommendations for further refining and improving CITES trade reporting for marine species are provided.

The State of Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries 2020

This third edition of the State of Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries provides a comprehensive overview of the status of fisheries in the region, looking at their main features and trends, in order to better inform their management and better examine current and future challenges that they will face in the near future. The aim of this report is to produce a document that could provide useful analysis and direction for decision-making and future action. In this respect, this publication also represents a convenient source of information for the FAO Committee on Fisheries and offers a practical complement to the data provided in the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture published by the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. This volume includes seven chapters divided into two sections: a first part on the status and trends of different aspects of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries, including fleet, catches, socio-economic variables and bycatch, and a second part that focuses on the management of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries, including an overview on small-scale fisheries. This report is based to a large extent on the most up-to-date data available submitted by GFCM contracting and cooperating non-contracting parties, including information on stock status, national catches, fleet and socio-economic information up to 2018. It is also complemented with information from other sources.

Impacts of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement recognizes the need for effective and progressive responses to the urgent threat of climate change, through mitigation and adaptation measures, while taking into account the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems. The inclusion of adaptation measures in the fisheries and aquaculture sector is currently hampered by a widespread lack of targeted analyses of the sector’s vulnerabilities to climate change and associated risks, as well as the opportunities and responses available. This report provides the most up-to-date information on the disaggregated impacts of climate change for marine and inland fisheries, and aquaculture, in the context of poverty alleviation and the differential dependency of countries on fish and fishery resources. The work is based on model projections, data analyses, as well as national, regional and basin-scale expert assessments. The results indicate that climate change will lead to significant changes in the availability and trade of fish products, with potentially important geopolitical and economic consequences, especially for those countries most dependent on the sector.

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

The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) represent the first ever international instrument dedicated to small-scale fisheries. They represent a global consensus on principles and guidance for small-scale fisheries governance and development. They were developed for small-scale fisheries in close collaboration with representatives of small-scale fisheries organizations in a participatory process between 2011-13, involving over 4000 stakeholders; facilitated by FAO, based on a mandate by COFI. They are directed at all those involved in the sector and intend to guide and encourage governments, fishing communities and other stakeholders to work together and ensure secure and sustainable small-scale fisheries for the benefit of small-scale fishers, fish workers and their communities as well as for society at large. They complement existing international instruments, such as the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the VG Tenure and the Right to Food Guidelines. Underpinned by a human rights approach, the SSF Guidelines represent a critical instrument to empower small-scale fishing communities - including vulnerable and marginalized groups - to participate in decision-making processes, and to assume responsibilities for sustainable use of fishery resources. The SSF Guidelines are already referred to in a number of ongoing policy processes (Committee on Global Food Security: Principles for responsible investment in agriculture and food systems 41st CFS recommendations; NEPAD’s policy framework and reform strategy for fisheries and aquaculture in Africa; Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC), Resolution WECAFC/15/2014/8).