Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Small- Scale Fisheries has not been given the importance it deserves on the national level, as a major contributor to food security, livelihood, employment creation, etc. Over the years it had been the major contributor to national fish production with figures ranging above 70% of the national fish production figure in Nigeria.

The FAO Small-Scale Voluntary Guidelines (SSF guidelines) are a set of recommendations developed to guide states and other actors on how to make small-scale fisheries more sustainable.

Challenges of the SSF sector in Nigeria:

The SSF sector has faced several challenges over the years. These include,

a) Lack of substantial budgetary allocation to Small Scale Fisheries Development activities to fund national and international /donor counterpart programs.

b) Under reporting of fisheries statistics as a result of lack of updated frame and catch surveys since 2007. Most especially at the national level, to predict or estimate actual catch volume and to facilitate or aid proper future planning for development.

c) Many landing sites are remotely located, and not easily accessible for meaningful socio-economic development.

d) Data from localised or community fisheries go unreported or are not captured, in particular, production by small scale aquaculture.

e) The Small-scale fisheries operators are disenchanted by the lack of sustainable support by government to many of their challenges such as inadequate supply of fishing inputs, disruptions of their activities by environmental issues such as flooding and coastal erosion.

The disorganised nature of their location and operations make it impossible to have the requisite data that would make monitoring of their fishing activities and other related associated activities easy and comprehensive under the guiding principles of the SSF guidelines. Unlike the industrial sector, where the visibility of operations enhances an appreciation of the sector’s contributions. Together with the large-scale aquaculture farms, their contributions to foreign exchange earnings in the country put them at a better advantage for private sector investments and government quick interventions. The SSF though better positioned to export non aquaculture products to the European markets, have not been able to maximise the opportunities because of their locations in remote areas, lack of technical expertise on quality control and best practices amongst most operators.

Implementation of FAO SSF Guidelines

Securing the commitment of government at all levels (Federal, State, Local Government) for the implementation of the FAO SSF guidelines is most important. This should be done before

the design of a relevant, realistic and useful tool for the monitoring and evaluation of the guidelines can be achieved. The commitment would guarantee developing specific sector policies and legal framework to support SSF in the country. Though Nigeria has adopted the guidelines and accented to, by the Honourable Minister for Agriculture, the implementation is still very slow and poor. Sector specific funding is very important. There should be budgetary allocation specific to the implementation of the SSF guidelines. Deliberate efforts to create awareness and sound education of the SSF guidelines amongst policy makers, regulatory agencies, stakeholders at community, Local Government, State and National levels should be made. A good understanding of the principles of the SSF guidelines will make the monitoring easy and efficient to implement.


Data collation

Data is very important. A baseline data on the activities of the sector, and evaluation of progress or otherwise is the very first step. The last national frame and catch survey was in 2007. There is an urgent need for an updated national frame and catch survey to predict or estimate catch volume in SSF for the country. Sex-aggregated data will give information on gender. A bottom-up approach of management is also advocated and strong stakeholders’ involvement in policy formulation, decisions and implementation along the entire value chain.

Monitoring indices

The monitoring indices should include those that are operational at the community, state and national levels. The indices should monitor resources management, decision making, culture and social aspects and progress of all activities within the SSF. Monitoring should also be at different levels of operations taking into consideration social and economic factors within the communities. Some of the indices should include:

a) Evaluation of governance structure within the fishing communities on the national level. What informs women’s participation and mode of participation in governance, decision making, and how the principle of equality and equity are considered or effected? Are the structures in place open in terms of gender? Identification of cultural and religious norms that affect Tenure and Use rights, women’s participation in direct fishing activities. How has going to Sea by women being affected by civilisation, urbanisation, capitalisation and relegation of women under different forms of biases?

b) Development of measurable indices to evaluate the number of fisheries organisations at local, state and national levels, number of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), associations directly or in-directed related to SSF, the increase in the number of associations and their advocacy activities, and at what levels of Governance? Also indices to measure platforms of exchange of ideas, experiences, trainings and partnerships should include, number such platforms, number of women in leadership

positions, number of trainings and partnership arrangements, number of women fisheries organisation at local and national levels.

c) Indices to monitor the direct activities of women such as number of women in fishing communities, number of women in fishing, processing and marketing (governance structure in the markets), livelihoods and alternative means of livelihoods, other socio- economic activities and multiple roles in fishing communities.

d) Actual fish production which could be through artisanal fisheries or small-scale aquaculture. Indices will include monitoring sea-related activities, those involved directly in fishing; boats and net making or supplies and repairs; sponsors of fishing activities who rent or lease fishing boats and other in-puts; and for aquaculture, types of fish growing structures, sizes, location, outputs; post- harvest activities; processing; value addition; marketing; employment. (women participation, mode of participation, cultural and religious norms in SSF to address gender equality and equity, respect for culture, discrimination etc).

e) Trade – markets, marketing structure, trade dynamics. Monitoring indices should include discrimination in market access; under what terms are trade alliances formed between SSF producers and off-takers? What protects small -scale practitioners from being deprived of commensurate benefits for their catches since often, they lack the capability to store their products. How are the small -scale aquaculture producers able to market when they crop their ponds? Do they market directly? Another index is measurement of the lease arrangement or sponsorship of fishing expenditure. At what costs do they rent or acquire inputs from suppliers/sponsors and under what payment arrangements in cash or fish catches? These factors will affect the sustainability of the SSF.

f) Human rights indices on conflicts between the artisanal fishermen and industrial fleets at sea especially within the non-trawling zone should include: how many conflicts are reported, resolved and compensation paid to the artisanal fishermen for loss of their fishing crafts annually? Are compensations commensurate to losses? Are the processes fair in cost of time and expenses to the fisherfolks or loss of fishing days? Are the processes of arbitration fair or subjected to human judgement, influence or are scientifically based? Develop recording system for loss of lives and livelihood at local, state and national levels? Develop monitoring indices for resolving conflicts within and between fishing communities and how is gender equity maintained?

g) Still on human rights, are SSF operators compensated for pollutions from oil, sand and discharge of effluents? Are SSF operators adequately compensated by oil companies or do the communities consider SSF operators in sharing of compensations to the communities? Dredging, sand- filling in urban areas have negative effects on coastal fisheries, destroying spawning beds, disrupting live cycles of some species of fish, increasing the turbidity of the water and making it difficult to fish thereby reducing the catch per unit efforts, increasing steaming time and fuel consumption in going further to sea for those who have capable sea worthy fishing crafts. How many such incidences have been reported and how many were adequately addressed?

h) How to monitor interrelated issues of food security, livelihood, climate change, poverty reduction, education, general living standards (provision of water, health

services, schools, storage facilities (cold stores, stores), gear and repair platforms etc. Are there data to support the percentage of catches consumed by fishing households? Whatever percentages of their catches are traded off to meet other needs in the family? What is the level of development in the fishing communities - living and working conditions? What are the levels of vulnerability to the effects of climate change such as floods, flooding, drought) on their livelihood and operations (loss of lives, relocation from operating base or landing sites, loss of crafts, fishing inputs, ponds and growing structures washed away, fish and net loss, loss of processing facilities and dried up ponds) Are there schools and health services within the community? What is the level of education amongst the fisher-folks?

Evaluation: There should be periodic evaluation of the guidelines on policies and regulations, improvement in general welfare and women participation, ability to adapt to effects of climate change, fish production data and of the other indices.


There is the urgent need to establish a framework for data collection on which to base development of the SSF sector and the implementation of the FAO SSF Guidelines. A national implementation body should be formed which should include relevant government and supervisory agencies, CSOs, fishmen, fisherwomen and fish farmers, processors, marketers, fisheries cooperatives societies, researchers and universities, women organisations to monitor and periodically evaluate the implementation of the guidelines.