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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Cornelia Nauen

Mundus maris

Dear colleagues,

I noted that a key element in recording SSF catches was not mentioned. The Sea Around Us ( is the one place where independent scientists in countries all over the globe have painstakingly researched and shared the currently best available estimates about SSF, subsistance and recreational marine catches. Using this resource systematically and encouraging and engaging in research in more countries to improve on the first 20 ys of efforts could much improve the conditions of fisheries management not only in Asian, African and Latin America countries. This is where most women and men in SSF live and work (almost 99% by FAO estimates in the SOFIA 2018 report - you must be working on an update even if COFI 2020 may not happen as usual). Taking inthese estimates as a starting point for further improvement could help government administrations and others to beef up their efforts for the implementation of the guidelines and revalue the importance of their domestic and regional SSF.

I would like to add an experience from the efforts since the 60s to integrate environmental concerns into policy framing and the civil society movement to add criteria of social justice since the 70s. There has since been much talk about integrated water resources management, rural development programmes and the need to blend natural resources analyses in fisheries with social science understanding, something strongly expressed in the consultative process that led up to the Guidelines and the defence of their grounding in human rights approaches.

Despite all the efforts that allowed us to learn a lot in these decades, the nexus between marine ecosystems, water, energy, food, social organisation and other dimensions playing out at local level in people's lives is fiendishly difficult to put into practice. Sectoral government silos remain strong and many well-intended processes even among a diversity of experts can not quite deliver on what's needed.

It always boils down to the two questions: (1) who asks the questions and who's heard, (2) what is the process and how is it set up?

While we know how important governments are in these processes, we also know that they can't do it alone, not even the ones well-endowed with resources.

While people at local level have no choice but juggle with the many challenges and opportunities to make a living, the higher up the ranks of formalisation and institutions you get, the more difficult it is to bring this rich and often contradictory tissue of experiences and knowledges to bear on processes, especially under conditions where key interlocuteurs are located in a mono-purpose agency or similar. Such configurations are not amenable to creating knowledge ecologies for robust solutions based on dialogue and negotiations.

The spatial marine planning approaches that are spreading in many places may well fall victim to such shortcomings and not deliver despite significant resources allocated.

That is a key motivation that led to our support for developing a small-scale fisheries academy to empower men and women in SSF to exchange among themselves in families, neighbourhoods, communities, along value chains to be empowered to speak for themselves. As you know we are early days with testing the methodology for training trainers. The covid-19 pandemic has forced us to postpone the next round of training and stalled progress momentarily, just as it's spanners in the work of key international negotiations.

At the same time, the experience that measures thought unthinkable before have been taken, may embolden efforts to seize opportunities not to go back to the utterly unsustainable state before and join forces for more experiementation of alternatives.

Please bear with me for condensing big concepts into a short text and refraining from explaining more of the background and theoretical and empirical underpinning.

But I wanted at least to flag the issues and stakes and express our interest to contribute to the implementation of the SSF Guidelines in whatever way we can, preferably in a strong collaborative mode.

Kind regards,


Dr. Cornelia E Nauen
Mundus maris - Sciences and Arts for Sustainability asbl