Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission

Ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture: Implementing the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

Category Ecosystems, habitats, environments & climate change

This publication provides guidance on how to implement the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) using an ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture. The CCRF is a voluntary code covering all aspects of the management and development of fisheries and is designed to ensure that they are developed sustainable without adversely affecting the livelihoods of local communities that share the same resources as the fisheries.

The authors outline the basic principles of the CCRF, describe concrete steps to be taken to use the ecosystem approach effectively, and recommend certain institutional changes and reforms that will be necessary in the Asia-Pacific region if the potential of the ecosystem approach is to be realized.

The most significant reform that is needed to achieve the potential of the ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture is a paradigm shift in policy from one that is production oriented to one that is benefits oriented (social and economic). There is evidence that this is already happening in the region with efforts being made to limit access, reduce the number of fishing vessels and introduce community-based rights systems. Stakeholder participation is essential and existing legal instruments and practices that interact with or impact fisheries may also need to be reconsidered, and adjustments made where necessary. In the future, it may even be necessary to regulate the inter-sectoral interactions and impacts through primary legislation, e.g. laws controlling coastal development.

To promote broader adoption and implementation of the ecosystem approach by member countries, a wide range of regional activities is suggested by the authors and includes a media campaign, the building of fishery alliances among countries and capacity building in fishery agencies.

Ensuring the sustainable development of fisheries is crucial if food security and economic well-being are to be achieved throughout the APFIC region. Hopefully the ideas included in this publication will help shape the future of fisheries in the region. 

Staples, D. & Funge-Smith, S. (2009) Ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture: Implementing the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand. RAP Publication 2009/11, 48 pp.