Food Loss and Waste in Fish Value Chains

IYAFA2022 in addressing food loss and waste

Omar Peñarubia, 25 October 2021

The International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 (IYAFA2022) aims to raise awareness on the role of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, strengthen science-policy interaction, empower stakeholders to take action, and to build new and strengthen existing partnerships. IYAFA2022 will highlight the importance of small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture for our food systems, livelihoods, culture and the environment.

In The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020, it is estimated that of the 59.51 million people engaged in capture fisheries (39.0 million people) and aquaculture (20.5 million people) in 2018, the majority are in developing countries and employed as small-scale, artisanal fishers and aquaculture workers. Women accounted for 14 percent of the total, with shares of 19 percent in aquaculture and 12 percent in capture fisheries. However, when post-harvest operations data are included, it is estimated that one in two workers in the sector is a woman. According to the 2012 Hidden Harvest study, 116 million people work in developing countries where small-scale fisheries produce over half the fish catch and 90–95 percent of this is consumed locally in rural settings where poverty rates are high and quality nutrition is sorely needed. The employment in small-scale fisheries is several times higher per ton of harvest than in large-scale fisheries.

Food loss and waste (FLW) in developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) countries are found at all stages of the value chain: at production, transportation, processing, storage, sale and consumption. FLW causes are often linked to inadequate infrastructure and services, a lack of knowledge and skills of the actors in the value chain in good practices, and a lack of or weak cold chain. Ultimately this mix of issues leads to poor handling, hygiene and product spoilage.

Addressing FLW in the small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture sector requires a multi-stakeholder approach focused on a combination of some or all of the following entry points: policy, appropriate technology, skills and knowledge, services and infrastructure, regulatory environment, social and gender equity, as well as good linkages to and knowledge of markets. The sector tends to be firmly rooted in local communities, traditions and values, but tends to have low visibility and receive little attention from policy-makers. Many small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture activities are informal, diverse and dispersed and not counted. As a result, they are often marginalized in policy-making processes and overlooked in policy.

The IYAFA2022 Global Action Plan (IYAFA GAP) is structured around seven pillars. Specifically, Pillar 2 Economic sustainability: Support inclusive value chains for small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture with the key message - Access to markets, appropriate infrastructure, inclusive value chains enable fishers, fishfarmers and fishworkers to better provide affordable high-quality fish products, foster economic development and generate employment, highlights the importance of sustainable practices along the value chain to avoid losses and waste by combining traditional and innovative, cost-efficient methods with appropriate technologies. Value addition, alongside robust management systems, can sustain livelihoods and maintain sufficient production of aquatic foods and products, whilst reducing the extraction of natural resources. Market access and leverage present particular opportunities and challenges for small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture, which can be influenced by wide a variety of trade policies implemented by countries.

The IYAFA GAP aims to build global momentum to empower small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture and secure a sustainable future for these important sectors. It provides indicative activities that can be done to achieve outputs on raising awareness, strengthening science-policy interface, empowering stakeholders and building new and strengthening existing partnerships. It will provide a unique opportunity to raise awareness of food loss and waste in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture value chains, the implications and solutions.

Small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture play an important role in food security and nutrition, poverty eradication, equitable development and sustainable resource utilization. The sector provides livelihoods for millions of people, essential nutrition to billions and contributes substantially to household, local and national economies and economic growth. IYAFA2022 will provide an opportunity to raise the profile of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture including the issue of FLW.

Find out more about reducing food loss and waste in fish value chains here.