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

Implementing the SSF Guidelines in Latin America and the Caribbean

24/05/2020

A multitude of actors in Latin America and the Caribbean were active in the formulation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). Their engagement helped shape this important set of guidelines and also made them keen adopters once the SSF Guidelines were endorsed in 2014. This article gives an overview of efforts to implement the SSF Guidelines in the region.

FAO’s support to small-scale fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean

Both on land and on the water, much of our work in FAO is in line with the recommendations in the SSF Guidelines. Fishery Officer Mr Jogeir Toppe from the FAO Subregional Office for Mesoamerica points out that many activities in the region are indeed linked to the implementation of the SSF Guidelines, even though they are not always mentioned explicitly in project reports. For instance, in a recent project to promote fish in school meals in Honduras and Peru, the fish was purchased from small-scale fishers, which supported their livelihoods and gave them a new venue for trading their catch. We in FAO work continuously, not least in Latin America and the Caribbean, to ensure that small-scale fishers have access to the fisheries resource, while at the same time ensuring sustainable resource management. This is in line with SSF Guidelines chapter 5, Sustainable Development Goal 14.b and the ecosystem approach to fisheries.

Mainstreaming the SSF Guidelines in the region

When looking into implementation efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean more broadly, a trend becomes evident: several regional organizations have taken the SSF Guidelines to heart and included them in policies, strategies, work plans and even a model law for small-scale fisheries. From FAO’s side, we have facilitated this uptake through raising awareness, sharing knowledge, empowering stakeholders and supporting initiatives such as an alliance of indigenous peoples, but ultimately it is the regional organizations sitting in the driver’s seat – as it should be. Implementing the SSF Guidelines includes mainstreaming them into policies and processes. Doing so is a shared responsibility for multiple actors to take on, and the result is a so-called enabling environment. In this environment, it is easier for small-scale fishers and fish workers themselves to take collective action to claim their rights, using the SSF Guidelines as a tool, and referring to the policies and processes to demonstrate that their claims have support. Such environment also helps small-scale fisheries earn recognition for the important role they can and should play in co-managing the fisheries resource, contributing to food and nutrition security, and helping to end poverty.

Below is a short summary of organizations who are driving the implementation of the SSF Guidelines in Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by brief examples of activities at national level.

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Santa Rosa de Salinas, Ecuador: Freshly caught fish arrives at the artisanal
Fishery Cooperative of Santa Rosa de Salinas, where the daily catch
is delivered, auctioned wholesale and then filleted for retail sale. ©FAO

The SSF Guidelines reflected in regional organization’s work

The Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission – WECAFC

The Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) has endorsed a resolution that encourages the implementation of the SSF Guidelines in all member states (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, European Union, France, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent/Grenadines, Spain, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United States of America, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela). WECAFC also follows the implementation of the SSF Guidelines closely, and encourages Members to for instance cooperate and share data to be used for an ongoing global study on small-scale fishers, support preparations for the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2022, and report on progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14.b.

The Latin American and Caribbean Parliament – PARLATINO

In 2017, the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (PARLATINO) initiated a “Model Law for Artisanal or Small-Scale Fishing” to define a legal, regulatory, normative, institutional framework for small-scale fisheries. It serves as a normative reference for the countries in the region.

PARLATINO, FAO and other partners also organized a forum for parliamentarians in 2018 on fisheries and aquaculture in Latin America and the Caribbean. The need to put social protection and occupational safety and health in fisheries and aquaculture on the political agenda was discussed by parliamentarians from 17 countries. An agreement was made to foster social protection and occupational safety in labour and fisheries national legal frameworks of member countries.

The Commission for Small-Scale and Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture of Latin America and the Caribbean – COPPESAALC

The Commission for Small-Scale and Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture of Latin America and the Caribbean (COPPESAALC, its acronym in Spanish) originally had a mandate to work for the development and sustainable use of inland fishery resources. The Commission’s mandate was then amended, following a regional workshop on the implementation of the SSF Guidelines organized by COPPESAALC. It is now working in cooperation with other regional and sub-regional actors towards the effective implementation of the SSF Guidelines and other policies, good practices and related activities to ensure sustainable small-scale fisheries governance in the region. South-South Cooperation, as well as triangular cooperation among members has been, and continue to be key in achieving these objectives.

Following a request by Member Countries, as well as a series of consultations with other Regional Fisheries Bodies, COPPESAALC incorporated marine small-scale fisheries into the scope of the Commission. A number of regional baselines and studies have since then been carried out, including on the role of women and youth in small-scale fisheries value chains in Latin American and Caribbean countries, microfinance systems in small-scale fisheries organizations, and migratory processes in small-scale fisheries in the region.

The Commission participated in the IV Forum of Parliamentarians of Fisheries and Aquaculture of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Panama City in 2018, where its members proposed working towards the improvement of national and regional legal frameworks, in terms of social protection schemes and decent employment in inland and marine small-scale fisheries.

The Central America Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization – OSPESCA

Around the time the SSF Guidelines came, the Central America Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (Organización del Sector Pesquero y Acuícola del Istmo Centroamericano, OSPESCA), signed a protocol of intent with FAO to collaborate on their implementation. OSPESCA also hosted an implementation workshop for its members in 2016 together with the Confederation of Artisanal Fisherfolk of Central America (CONFESPESCA), and has established a small-scale fisheries working group where OSPESCA, CONFESPESCA and FAO jointly support the implementation of the SSF Guidelines.  

OSPESCA has furthermore integrated the SSF Guidelines into its 2015-25 strategy, and has encouraged incorporation of small-scale fisheries in national programmes in Central American countries. OSPESCA has moreover published a colourful edition of the SSF Guidelines featuring an additional foreword by the OSPESCA Regional Director.

In 2019, members of OSPESCA, plus representatives from Colombia and Mexico, and the Alliance of Indigenous Fishers of Central America met to discuss a continued regional approach to implement the SSF Guidelines. Currently, the working group is reviewing and refining a roadmap for implementing the SSF Guidelines. Read more about OSPESCA here.

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Panama: Fishing in the Diablo River.©FAO

The Alliance of Indigenous Fishers of Central America

The Alliance of Indigenous Fishers of Central America (Alianza de Pescadores Indígenas Centroamericanos in Spanish) is an international civil society organization safeguarding the interests of indigenous peoples in the region who make a living from small-scale fisheries. Indigenous peoples in the region took the initiative to form the Alliancein 2018 with support from FAO, OSPESCA, the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples for Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC), and the Central American Indigenous Council (CICA), following a trainingfor indigenous leaders, indigenous fishers and government representatives on the SSF Guidelines. The Alliance is keen to implement the SSF Guidelines. It hosted a workshop on governance in fishing in 2019, and joined OSPESCA’s small-scale fisheries working group later that year.

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism – CRFM

Small-scale fisheries are a prominent feature of the 17 small island developing States that form the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). The Ministerial Council of the CRFM agreed to adopt a protocol on the SSF Guidelines into the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy in 2018 – much thanks to a participatory process led by a partnership of Caribbean fisheries stakeholders.

Currently, those same fisheries stakeholders in Caribbean small island developing states are informally tracking implementation success. Fisherfolk organisations, academia and non-governmental organisations have partnered to do so through surveys, focus groups, workshops and other means, drawing inspiration from an FAO expert workshop on monitoring progress in implementing the SSF Guidelines held in Italy in 2017.

The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies – CERMES

FAO continues to support the uptake of the SSF Protocol by CRFM described above through the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) and its Gender In Fisheries Team (GIFT). CERMES and GIFT fill in critical gaps, especially in gender analysis and reporting, to inform more targeted interventions with regards to protocol implementation. An example of such gender analysis is a recently published study from Barbados.

CERMES has also spearheaded the effort to coordinate Caribbean countries contributing data to the Illuminating Hidden Harvests study on environmental, economic, social, food security, and governance contributions of SSF, to be published later this year. The Caribbean countries in the study are Barbados, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Illuminating Hidden Harvests study also covers Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru, although not through CERMES.

The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty - IPC

The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) has a Working Group on Fisheries. The group organized national and regional level consultations with small-scale fisheries organizations on the development of the SSF Guidelines – some of them in Central America. IPC is present in the region through the Alliance for Food Sovereignty of the Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean,  and is among other things safeguarding the interest of small-scale producers by attending the The FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean as observers.

IPC has also been involved in developing learning material tailored to small-scale fisheries organizations for efforts to bridge the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (Tenure Guidelines) and the SSF Guidelines. This learning material has been piloted in Brazil and other places in the world.

Comunidad y Biodiversidad – COBI, and Too Big To Ignore – TBTI

In Mexico, the civil society organization Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI) hosted a workshop in 2019 on small-scale fisheries governance and policy in Latin America and the Caribbean in collaboration with the Too Big To Ignore (TBTI) research network and other partners. Researchers and civil society organizations worked together to co-design a regional framework for mainstreaming the SSF Guidelines into governance and policy in the region. Three years earlier, TBTI also hosted the second World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress in Mexico.

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Gouyave, Genada: Fishers sorting out equipment after a day of fishing. ©FAO

Implementation activities at country level

On a national level, several initiatives are advancing SSF Guidelines implementation. Here are some of them. Did we miss something? Please email us at [email protected].

Improving governance

Through the Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean Trawl Fisheries project (REBYC-II LAC), Costa Rica, Brazil and Colombia carried out bottom-up stakeholder led consultations to develop management plans that incorporate small-scale fishers. This was the first time that small-scale fishers effectively participated in the decision-making process. This led to the creation of the Barra del Colorado Management Plan in Costa Rica, the creation of intra sectoral fishing and effort agreements in Colombia and the first EAF-based management plan for shrimp fisheries in Brazil.

In El Salvador, the SSF Guidelines have been disseminated widely and implemented at the cooperative level, strengthening infrastructure and hands-on processes to improve production practices, thanks to theproject "Improve the Governance of the Fishing and Aquaculture Sector, for Food and Nutrition Security in El Salvador".

Civil society co-developing for law on small-scale fisheries

Costa Rica has been called a champion of the SSF Guidelines. In collaboration with the civil society organization CoopeSoliDar R.L., small-scale fishers in Costa Rica took active part in the consultations leading to the adoption of the SSF Guidelines, and have since been active in their implementation. The Costa Rican government has likewise shown considerable interest in implementing the SSF Guidelines. Among other things, the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA) has developed a draft law on small-scale fisheries which is currently with the Costa Rican parliament. To develop this law, INCOPESCA engaged in a series of consultations with main actors in the small-scale fisheries sector, in academia, in NGOs and with legislators to ensure that the draft law reflects the main needs and requirements of all actors in small-scale fisheries. Read more about implementation efforts in Costa Rica in this interview.

Supporting indigenous people’s rights

Recognizing the importance of the SSF Guidelines to strengthen indigenous people’s rights in the Amazon, the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) in partnership with Operação Amazônia Nativa (OPAN) and others, organized a workshop in Brazil in 2019 to raise awareness among leaders of 16 ethnic groups from the Amazon river basin.

ICSF has also helped raise awareness in the region in other ways, for instance by offering a summary of the SSF Guidelines in Portuguese and Spanish.

Studies, plans and roadmaps towards national implementation

A number of national level studies have been carried out in Latin America and the Caribbean to provide recommendations for regional and national policy agendas on small-scale fisheries. For instance, the project REBYC-II LAC and StewardFish in collaborating with Duke University, the University of West Indies and others diagnose the functionality of fishing organizations in Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname to understand and reinforce areas of action.

Furthermore, both Ecuador and Peru have developed roadmaps towards the implementation of the SSF Guidelines in their respective countries through multi-stakeholder workshops.

Disaster risk and climate change

We in FAO are providing support to the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO) and national fisherfolk organisations in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago to increase resilience to climate change.

We have also conducted trainings on Fishery and Aquaculture Response in Emergencies (FARE) and Safety at Sea in the Caribbean to strengthen the capacity of national actors in for instance emergency preparation, outboard engine repair and maintenance, safety risk management, boat handling and basic marine traffic rules, as well as First Aid and use of technology such as VHF radio, Global Positioning System (GPS) and cell phones.

We have furthermore assessed legal frameworks in Barbados, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago in terms of entry points for introducing fishing vessel insurance.

Currently we are looking into how to support small-scale fisheries actors in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Tips for further reading

COFI/2016/7: Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries: Towards implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines).

COFI/2016/Inf.13: Towards implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines).

COFI/2018/7: Small-scale and artisanal fisheries governance

COFI/2018/Inf.17: Progress by FAO and partners concerning the implementation of the SSF Guidelines since the thirty-second session of COFI in 2016

COFI/2018/SBD.23: Update on progress to develop the Global Strategic Framework in Support of the Implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF-GSF)

FIPI/R1033: FAO/CRFM/WECAFC Caribbean Regional Consultation on the Development of International Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (2012)

SOFIA 2016: The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture – page 92 onwards

SOFIA 2018: The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture – page 138 onwards

igssf.icsf.net – a website containing efforts by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) to implement the SSF Guidelines

coopesolidar.org a website containing efforts by the by the Professional Services Cooperative for Social Solidarity (CoopeSoLiDar R.L.) to implement the SSF Guidelines in the region

 

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Santa Rosa de Salinas, Ecuador: The daily catch is delivered for auction. ©FAO