Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries
in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication

Dialogue on Social Responsibility in Fisheries and Aquaculture Value Chains

19/06/2019 - 20/06/2019 Rome, Italy

Twenty-three participants from both the small- and large-scale fisheries and aquaculture sectors, including actors from trade unions, fishworker organisations, NGOs, academia and the private sector, gathered in Rome recently for constructive discussions on social responsibility along the fisheries and aquaculture value chains.

Photo from the dialogue ©FAO

The aim of this dialogue meeting was for the participants to give input on a draft guidance document under development in FAO. When final, the guidance document will give a comprehensive and practical orientation to key issues to address throughout the value chains in order to improve social responsibility.

The guidance will also help readers navigate which international instruments treat the respective issues. It lists over a dozen instruments, among them widely used instruments such as ILO conventions and human rights conventions, but also the SSF Guidelines and their principles on social development, employment and decent work.

The dialogue participants in Rome engaged in constructive group discussions about what key challenges they were aware of and concerned about along the value chains, what available international instruments address the challenges, if there are gaps in any instruments or in their implementation, and not least what actors are responsible for addressing the issues.

Zooming in on key issues and needs of small-scale producers, the participants raised how small-scale producers need to be made more visible, and need to gain access to information on multiple things ranging from their rights, to safety regulations, to market value of their produce, and more. Small-scale producers also need to gain more opportunities to raise their voices in matters concerning them. Then the participants further stressed that all actors in the value chain would need to be enabled and capacitated to fully take social responsibility.

The initiative to develop guidance came from FAO member countries in 2017. The member countries recognized the complexity of addressing social issues relative to human and labour rights in fisheries value chains, and recommended FAO to collaborate with interested partner organizations and stakeholders to develop a guidance document to assist fish value chain actors.

The Rome Dialogue was the third of in total four dialogues to help elaborate the guidance. The next dialogue will be held in Singapore, 3-4 of July. Then the proposed guidance document is scheduled to be put forward to FAO Members for discussion at the next FAO Sub-Committee on Fish Trade in November 2019.