GLOBEFISH Event on Fisheries Access Arrangements

25/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

The Fisheries and Aquaculture Division of FAO and GLOBEFISH have the pleasure to invite you to join us on Monday 25 October 2021 at the next webinar on Fisheries Access Arrangements.

The webinar will present a map of the major types of arrangements for accessing marine capture fisheries, with a focus on developing country waters. The focus is exclusively on ‘foreign’ industrial scale activities, including where a vessel is locally flagged and registered but the business enterprise involved is not beneficially owned in that country.

Join us for a dynamic discussion!


Monday 25 October

16 :00 – 16 :05 CEST


     By Mr. Audun Lem, Deputy Director of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, FAO

16 :05 – 16 :25 CEST

Presentation: Mapping the major fishing access arrangements

     By Mr. Liam Campling, Professor, Queen Mary University of London

16 :25 – 16 :55 CEST

Open Debate

     The Audience is encouraged to pose questions and make comments.

16 :55 – 17 :00 CEST


      By Mr. Audun Lem, Deputy Director of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, FAO




This Executive Summary presents the main findings and observations of the report on fisheries access arrangements, which maps the major arrangements for accessing marine capture fisheries in foreign jurisdictional waters, with a particular emphasis on developing countries. The report is the first phase of a comprehensive study on analysing fishing access arrangements from an economic angle to facilitate the identification of opportunities to enhance the trade of fisheries-related services, particularly for developing countries. The full report will be launched in the first quarter of 2022.

The views expressed herein in the report are those of the authors, and they do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In addition, designations employed do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city, area, or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

The report focuses exclusively on industrial-scale activities, including vessels locally flagged and registered where the business is not beneficially owned in the country. The conceptual framing emphasizes that businesses, and not States, engage in fishing activities. In addition, based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), sovereign rights over marine resources are considered a form of state property and a public asset.

The report presents a typology of access arrangements covering a very high percentage of global fisheries that can be classified as:

  • ‘First generation’ access arrangements, involving basically the allocation of fishing access in return for financial payment. They can have different formats, as bilateral or multilateral, such as government-to-government, industry association-to-government, and company-to-government. Additional payments made by the fleet’s home State can also exist.
  • ‘Second-generation’ access arrangements, involving one or two broad mechanisms. They can include allocating access and/or reduced licensing costs for foreign vessels to register locally and agreeing to use local goods and services through transhipment and/or land the fish domestically. Alternatively, they can set onshore investments in return for fishing access, such as processing facilities. Commitments to onshore investments can take the form of joint-venture enterprises and involve anticipated direct and indirect employment generation, spin-offs in terms of ancillary industries, exports, technology transfer, among others.

The primary approaches to implement these arrangements by the major distant water fishing nations (DWFN) and distant water fishing fleets (DWF) are also described. The case studies encompass Japan, the European Union, China, Taiwan Province of China, Republic of Korea, United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the Philippines.

There is a diversity of ways access arrangements can be mapped and analysed. Each case analysis presents the leading players, the overall approach, and the structure of access arrangements. Different analytical techniques for mapping each case were adapted to highlight the more critical contextual trends or evidence contingent issues.

The report then maps the existing access arrangements in developing countries by major regions – Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands. In Africa, two cross-cutting issues are highlighted – (i) the relationship between the European Union resource access and African market access for fisheries and aquaculture products, and (ii) the role of fishing agents. The difference in analytical emphasis is driven by the specifics of the case which can be highlighted be comparing the coverage of India and the Pacific Islands. The section on India emphasises the historical unfolding of domestic policy for a resource-holding State, showing how social dynamics among different domestic actors shaped the politics of access arrangements. The section on the Pacific Islands is more focussed on the forms of South-South cooperation used by these resource holders and their shifting relationships with resource-seeking DWFs and DWFNs.

The legal and technical forms that access arrangements may take vary significantly. The report outlines different access arrangement structures and shows how these structures are enacted in practice. Furthermore, access has a temporally dynamic pattern since resource-owning and resource-seeking countries and firms change and are constantly experimenting with how the designs of access arrangements might best achieve their dynamic goals and objectives. For example, while many access arrangements are bilateral in nature, the mapping also highlights multiple instances in which resource-owning states have collaboratively and positively managed access when they share governance of straddling stocks, demonstrating the importance of regional cooperation.

Despite the ubiquity of access relations, the mapping reveals that each access arrangement reflects the ‘environmental conditions of production’ in each distinct fishery. The ever-shifting combination of regulatory, commercial, and ecological conditions creates dynamic practices considering historical and contemporary sectoral institutional and political relations. Regardless of the classification of access arrangements as ‘first’ or ‘second-generation’, their actual functioning and experience are region- and context-specific. The core characteristics and conditions vary from fishery to fishery. Thus, while movements towards best practices in access agreements can be instrumental, the nature and outcomes of access agreements will ultimately be an empirical issue specific to each case.

To receive information about the launching of the online report, please register here.

[1] Authors: Liam Campling and Elizabeth Havice, with Mialy Andriamahefazafy, Mads Barbesgaard, Siddharth Chakravarty, Béatrice Gorez, Dan Hetherington, Hyunjung Kim, Kwame Mfodwo, André Standing and John Virdin



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