Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

This member contributed to:

    • On behalf of the Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section of the Asian Fisheries Society, we submit the attached responses to the questions posed for this consultation 

      Our congratulations to the dedicated team that brought out the draft report on ‘Reducing inequalities for food security and nutrition’. The Gender in Aquaculture & Fisheries Section (GAFS) of the Asian Fisheries Society (AFS) (Https:// submits comments, addressing the questions raised for the present consultation.

      1. The Framework

      Regarding the framework, it should also be able to provide practical guidance to policy makers in the field of fisheries and rural and social development. Information and examples about social inequality from (small scale) fisheries and aquaculture should be included, intersected by gender, ethnicity, class, caste, age, etc., among others on pg 12-17. ​​​​​​​

      2. New definition of food security

      The new definition of food security is appropriate. Small-scale fisheries (SSF) is an excellent illustration that could be used in the report to illustrate the need for all six dimensions of food security. availability, access, utilization, stability, agency and sustainability. It is pertinent to note that 800 million people (50% are women) around the world depend on smallscale fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. The Illuminating Hidden Harvests (IHH) report (IHH, 2021) found that small-scale fisheries (SSF) account for at least 40 percent of global fisheries catch. About 90 percent of the people employed along capture fisheries value chains operate in small-scale fisheries. 45 million women participate in small-scale fisheries, including for subsistence. Small fish and midwater fish are especially nutritious and found abundantly in small-scale fisheries landings. These fish should be made available as food for those in SSF communities. In some places, access by small-scale fishers and fish processors is compromised by management decisions that grant control of the catch to large industrial operators and channel to fish to uses such as fishmeal. Co-management is likely implemented for about 20 percent of the catch from smallscale fisheries. To improve sustainability and stability of supply and access, greater use of comanagement arrangements is warranted through national fisheries policies. For each fisher in the small-scale sector, at least four other people are engaged in related land-based activities, such as the preparation of equipment, fish processing, and marketing. As a family-based activity, fishing makes a direct contribution to household food security, where women play a particularly important role both as the link with the market and as the provider of food in the household, in addition to their reproductive role. Utilization and agency are linked with the whole set of governance arrangements in SSF. ​​​​​​​

      3. Definitions of inequities, inequalities, etc

      No response ​​​​​​​

      4. Major gaps

      The report also needs to capture adequately capture the contributions of the informal sector of food economy / social economies such as dried/preserved fish value chains that largely remain overlooked and undervalued across science-policy-practice. Attention to the informal sector is important not only because its disproportionate contributions towards FSN of socio-economically marginalized communities particularly in the Global South, but also because of the unique threats to sustainability of such value chains (e.g., commercialization, inter-sectoral competition for coastal resources, and fish stock depletions) (Belton et al., 2022). Furthermore, such informal food economies are largely localized, deeply rooted in cultural and social norms, and remain integral to local culinary traditions that has lasted for centuries. For example, dried fish is a main consumer item in household food baskets in Sri Lanka with steadily increasing local production volumes over the past. Local dishes such as dried queen fish curry is a nutritious comfort food for Sri Lankans across income categories. In addition to the nutritional value, physical characteristics such as storability, portability, and affordability of such food items elevates their suitability for FSN interventions including during disaster and crisis situations ( Overall, attention to such socio-cultural and traditional linkages may provide an entry point for potential interventions seeking to harness the nutritional value of hidden and undervalued food items (Byrd et al., 2021) and thereby transform food systems in culturally appropriate ways. Perhaps the current sub-section on ‘culture and social norms’ (page 74) can be expanded to highlight some of these linkages? ​​​​​​​

      5. Structural drivers of inequality covered?

      Chapter 2 deals with inequalities in Food Security and Nutrition Across Regions and Groups. For inequalities between groups it is recommended to also look into issues of inequalities between specific food producer groups across the food chain of farming, fisheries, livestock, aquaculture, forestr. In Chapter 2 no distinction is made in animal source food, while fish has a very different nutritional value and is of much higher nutritional importance than meat, in particular for children and lactating mothers and also a relaively cheaper source of protein. Policy priorities in most countries and internationally give priority to terrestrial animal-source food rather than aquatic. This needs to be redressed.

      Chapter 3 deals with inequalities in food and other systems and FSN implications.This chapter has a strong focus on inequalities in agriculture food systems. Inequalities in aquatic foodsystems (fisheries & aquaculture value chains) are not included. Inequalities in fisheries and aquaculture should be included in all “fields” of inequalities, in particular regarding Tenure Rights, Market and Trade, Information and Technology, Finance, Participation and Decision making, Decent Work and Social Development, Security and Safety.

      ​​​​​​​6. Other trends that should be included?

      Chapter 4. The systemic drivers and root causes of FSN inequalities (Pg 79 Fisheries policy and investment). In this sections more information should be given on SSF and impact of global trends like the policies on “blue economy”and “blue growth”. Although the international community has endorsed the SSF Guidelines, the implementation continues to meet major obstacles. The growing pressures of a ‘blue economy’, including the rapid expansion of aquaculture, wind farms, etc., pose multiple threats to small-scale fisheries, most fundamentally at the level of tenure rights, and access to resources and markets. Climate change and global environmental policies too are impacting small-scale fisheries in a major way. ​​​​​​​

      7. Under/overrepresented topics

      Women and gender are under-represented topics in this report on inequalities. Although the words “women” and “gender” occur frequently, they are used mostly in formulaic ways. The short subsection on Gender and FSN (starting on p. 41) soon grades into other inequality dimensions and is rather vague and simple. If the intent of this report is not to focus much on gender inequality, e.g., because of the ongoing issues over the halted process concerning the VG on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment, this perhaps this should be noted?

      9 Success stories

      Example of a success story include the state nutrition program of the state of Odisha, India where powdered dried fish has been introduced as part of the take-home ration. [News stories -…- ;…]. Also, ongoing research initiatives such as ‘Dried Fish Matters’ (a research partnership based in Canada with focus of dried fish social economies in South and Southeast Asia; attempts to address the invisibility of informal food economies in research and policy.


      · Belton, B., Derek S. Johnson, Eric Thrift, Jonah Olsen, Mostafa Ali Reza Hossain, Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, 2022, Dried fish at the intersection of food science, economy, and culture: A global survey, Fish and Fisheries,

      · SMALL-SCALE FISHERIES AND THE HUMAN RIGHT TO ADEQUATE FOOD. Making the connection: exploring synergies in the implementation of the SSF Guidelines and the Right to Food Guidelines

      · Priority Actions for Ocean Equity: and

      · Towards gender-equitable small-scale fisheries governance and development – A handbook:

      · The international Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication:

      · IHH. 2021. Illuminating Hidden Harvests: The contribution of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development

      Additional materials

      Blue Economy and impact on (gender in) SSF, Climate change and impact on (gender in) SSF, Environmental policies and impact on (and gender in) SSF , International Trade and impact on (gender in) SSF

      1. Bertarelli, D. (2021, March 22). “The Blue Economy Is an Ocean of Opportunity to Advance Gender Equality “. UNCTAD.

      2. Gustavsson, M., Frangoudes, K., Lindström, L., Burgos, M. C. Á., & de la Torre-Castro, M. (2021). Gender and Blue Justice in small-scale fisheries governance. Marine Policy, 133, 104743.

      3. Merayo, E. (2019, June 6). Steering gender to the centre of the blue economy. International Institute for Environment and Development.

      4. Cohen, P. J., Allison, E. H., Andrew, N. L., Cinner, J., Evans, L. S., Fabinyi, M., ... & Ratner, B. D. (2019). Securing a just space for small-scale fisheries in the blue economy. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6, 171.

      5. Musinguzi, L., Natugonza, V., Efitre, J., & Ogutu-Ohwayo, R. (2018). The role of gender in improving adaptation to climate change among small-scale fishers. Climate and Development, 10(6), 566-576.

      6. Lau, J. (2021, November 5). Does gender determine how one experiences climate change?. World Fish Center.

      7. Badjeck, M. C., Allison, E. H., Halls, A. S., & Dulvy, N. K. (2010). Impacts of climate variability and change on fishery-based livelihoods. Marine policy, 34(3), 375-383.

      8. Global Programme on Risk Assessment and Management for Adaptation to Climate Change (Loss and Damage), Siebert,M., Schindler,S., Petersen,A.K., Hanke,N., & Schmidt,J. (2021). Climate change and small-scale fisheries-A climate risk management perspective for West Africa. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

      9. De la Torre-Castro, M. (2019). Inclusive management through gender consideration in smallscale fisheries: the why and the how. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6, 156.

      10. Sumaila, U. R. (2017). Trade and sustainable fisheries (No. 676). ADBI Working Paper.

      11. Biswas, N. (2018). Towards gender-equitable small-scale fisheries governance and development: a handbook.

      12. Adam, R., Amani, A., Kuijpers, R., Smits, E., & Kruijssen, F. (2022). Climate change, gender and aquatic food systems: call for action to address gender and social inequalities matters in the nexus.… 7ec60a.pdf?sequence=2.

      Inequalities in aquatic food systems related to (access to) Tenure Rights, Market and Trade, Information and Technology, Finance, Participation and Decision making, Decent Work and Social Development, Security and Safety

      1. Lee, K. (2021). Four strategies to achieve inclusive and equitable aquatic food systems.

      2. Land Tenure And Sustainable Agri-Food Systems. (2021). FAO.

      3. Simmance, F. A., Cohen, P. J., Huchery, C., Sutcliffe, S., Suri, S. K., Tezzo, X., ... & Phillips, M. J. (2022). Nudging fisheries and aquaculture research towards food systems. Fish and Fisheries, 23(1), 34-53.

      4. Fishy business: Millions of people missing out on their fair share of aquatic foods. (2023, January 12). Down To Earth.

      5. Nara, B. B., Lengoiboni, M., & Zevenbergen, J. (2020). Implications of customary land rights inequalities for food security: A study of smallholder farmers in northwest Ghana. Land, 9(6), 178.

      6. Short, R. E., Gelcich, S., Little, D. C., Micheli, F., Allison, E. H., Basurto, X., ... & Zhang, W. (2021). Harnessing the diversity of small-scale actors is key to the future of aquatic food systems. Nature Food, 2(9), 733-741. 0. 7. Hicks, C. C., Gephart, J. A., Koehn, J. Z., Nakayama, S., Payne, H. J., Allison, E. H., ... & Naylor, R. L. (2022). Rights and representation support justice across aquatic food systems. Nature Food, 3(10), 851-861.

      8. Cojocaru, A. L., Liu, Y., Smith, M. D., Akpalu, W., Chávez, C., Dey, M. M., ... & Tran, N. (2022). The “seafood” system: Aquatic foods, food security, and the Global South. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 16(2), 306-326.

      9. Poulain, F., & Belton, B. (2021). Aquatic food systems under COVID-19.

      10. Levelling the playing field: Eliminating inequalities in accessing science, technology and innovation across value chains. (2022). Committee on World Food Security. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

      11. Hicks, C. C., Gephart, J. A., Koehn, J. Z., Nakayama, S., Payne, H. J., Allison, E. H., ... & Naylor, R. L. (2022). Rights and representation support justice across aquatic food systems. Nature Food, 3(10), 851-861.….

    • This response is from the Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section (GAFS) of the Asian Fisheries Society ( Hence, our suggestions relate to the gender elements of the SSF-VG. We also draw your attention to Quist (2016) [LINK – “A Gender Analysis of the Adopted Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication: Constraints and Opportunities” Asian Fisheries Science, 29:149-160.]

      The key messages from our detailed response (attached) are:

      • Women are vital to SSF: Women are a large, important but poorly documented part of SSF, creating monitoring problems within the overall SSF Guidelines monitoring challenge. Many local and national fisheries officials have a very low awareness of the gender provisions in the SSF Guidelines. This could lead to women’s status and engagement diminishing, in spite of efforts to improve SSF. Monitoring should be sensitive to the possibility of negative as well as positive change in gender equality.
      • Local scale monitoring is key: The scale of monitoring should primarily be local due to the diverse forms of SSF. Progress measured at the local level would then be collated for the regional/national levels where progress would be measured in terms of policies and programmes in line with the Guidelines, including special programs addressing women. Empirical studies are needed to work through model approaches, at the national level, for collecting sex-disaggregated data.
      • Adapt SDG gender targets: The SSF monitoring programme could adapt selected gender targets from relevant SDGs (UN Women, 2018). An annex of suggested targets is provided for consideration. Unfortunately, SDG 14 (Life Under Water) is one of the few SDGs to contain no gender-specific targets, but other SDGs contain relevant targets.
      • In depth gender analysis needed: To help overcome gender blindness, in depth gender analysis is needed to establish the fisheries (resources and value chain) and the policies, institutions and organizations that specially affect women of fishing communities.
      • First raise community awareness of SSF Guidelines: Greater awareness among SSF communities on the Guidelines is the essential first step for participatory monitoring. Capacity building is needed to educate women and men on the ground that the SSF Guidelines is an exclusive instrument that can be used to ensure their livelihoods including their access to their resources and all other aspects encompassing it.
      • Combine participatory monitoring with social change: Nurturing social change is entwined with participatory monitoring. Participants will be the fishers, the local governments, fishers’ organisations, CSOs, researchers (especially those working in SSF and gender). Government agencies will have to cede some control and work in a collaborative rather than top-down manner.