Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA)

Global Closing Event

Opening remarks


Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

31 March 2023




Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Dear Colleagues,


When the United Nations General Assembly declared 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, a unique window opened to focus world attention on the important role of small-scale artisanal fishers, fishfarmers and fishworkers in food security and nutrition, poverty eradication and sustainable use of natural resources.

Under the lead of the FAO, and in close collaboration with other UN agencies, FAO Members and partners, the International Year proved to be a successful platform for collective action with over 260 events organized in 68 countries, underpinned by a strong awareness-raising campaign.

Guided by the International Steering Committee, chaired by the Government of Peru, and three regional committees, it was a truly global movement to promote and support small-scale artisanal fishers, fishfarmers and fishworkers and their livelihoods. 

Let me express my deep and sincere gratitude and congratulations to all those who dedicated their time, resources, experiences and commitment to make the celebration of this Year a global success - from the  61 official IYAFA 2022 partners, to small-scale fisheries organizations to governments.

In particular, I wish to convey appreciation to Peru as Chair of the International Steering Committee who has been actively promoting the International Year. Unfortunately, His Excellency the Minister for Production of Peru could not join us today physically due to extreme weather conditions currently affecting Peru due to the cyclone. Our thoughts are with the affected population.

Peru has also generously provided a light lunch for us with Peruvian fish dishes, which we will share at the end of this closing event to honour the work of small-scale fishers, fish farmers and fish workers in Peru and around the world.

And a special thanks to the European Union, Norway and Sweden for their financial support.

Dear Friends,

The International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 celebrated the millions of people working in small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture – including some 45 million women small-scale fishers – who produce 40% of all the fish we eat.

Small in name, but big in impact – small-scale and artisanal fishers contribute to global food security, nutrition, economic growth, and more importantly livelihoods. They are stewards of valuable ecosystems, and of longstanding traditions and cultures.

They are vital to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and essential to realizing FAO’s Blue Transformation vision, to change the way the world manages, uses and conserves its aquatic resources to end hunger and poverty.

Women, men, youth, Indigenous Peoples and rural communities are the backbone of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, yet yhey are among the worlds most vulnerable to environmental degradation, shocks, disasters and the impacts of the climate crisis.

This International Year emphasized the potential of small-scale fishers and aquaculturists to transform our aquatic food systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient, and more sustainable. So if this International Year is coming to a close, it should not be the end, but a new beginning where we continue to amplify the voices of small-scale artisanal fishers, where we continue to support the development of inclusive small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture national plans and strategies.

To do this, we must build on established instruments such as the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, as well as in the context of the recently agreement Global Biodiversity Framework, as well as the High Seas Treaty.

Only by empowering small-scale artisanal fishers, fishfarmers and fishworkers can we enhance the role of aquatic foods in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.

So I call on all of you to continue to build on the momentum of this International Year for an inclusive and equitable Blue Transformation to make this a new era of support for small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture – who are small in scale, but big in value!

And more importantly, blue in colour and bright for the future!!

Thank you.