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

FAO and the One Ocean Hub Co-Organised Workshop on Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries

12/04/2021 - 15/05/2021

FAO and the One Ocean Hub (OOH) organised a Regional Training Workshop on Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF), in South Africa, Ghana, and Namibia from 12th to 15th April 2021. The workshop aimed to test the use of the Legislative Guide and the advanced working version of the Policy and Legal Diagnostic Tool for Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, which were developed by FAO to advance the implementation of SSF Guidelines.

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The workshop advanced the partnership between FAO and the Hub. The OOH is an international programme of research for sustainable development, working to promote fair and inclusive decision-making for a healthy-ocean whereby people and planet flourish. The Hub is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The workshop is an example of the Hub’s intention to contribute to multiple scales of the ocean science-policy interface. Two main outcomes of this workshop were: (i) improving the understanding of the relevance of international instruments and international actors that can support the protection of human rights of small-scale fishers at local and national levels; and (ii) enabling different stakeholders that participated in the workshop to provide feedbacks and inputs to the ongoing development of FAO’s Policy and Legal Diagnostic Tool for Small-Scale Fisheries, thereby fostering a participatory and human rights-based approach to the process of making this tool.

The workshop included a series of presentations. From the Hub, Dr Bernadette Snow (OOH Deputy Director) introduced the Hub project to participants. Hub researchers, including Dr Jackie Sunde (University of Cape Town); Professor Joseph Aggrey-Fynn (University of Cape Coast), and Professor Alex Kanyimba (University of Namibia) provided their insights on why it is important to have SSF appropriate legislation, based on legal and social sciences research conducted with small-scale fishing communities in the respective countries over the past two years.

From FAO, Ms Lena Westlund (Consultant, Fisheries Division) provided a comprehensive explanation on the development process, scope, guiding principles, thematic areas covered, and the FAO activities to promote the implementation of the SSF Guidelines, emphasizing that while governments have the main responsibility to implement the Guidelines, other stakeholders, including researchers, can contribute to these efforts. Ms Ana Suarez-Dussan (Human Rights Expert, Fisheries Division) presented on the SSF Legislative Guide as well as on the structure and main components of SSF legislation. Ms Julia Nakamura (Legal Consultant, Development Law Service) presented on the Policy and Legal Diagnostic Tool, explaining the step-wise assessment and how to use it.

Representatives of governments, from the three countries, gave their overview on policy and legal frameworks in their respective countries.

The workshop also offered the opportunity for representatives from small-scale fishers to share their views. Ms Hilda Adams, a representative of small-scale fishers in South Africa, provided a recorded audio message, reflecting on the importance of having appropriate SSF legislation. According to Ms Adams, appropriate SSF legislation that is properly implemented will enable small-scale fishers to contribute even more to food security, empower themselves, eliminate unemployment, and other social problems. Mr Pedro Garcia, another representative of small-scale fishers in South Africa, emphasized the need to involve directly and from early planning stages small-scale fishers in any consultations or discussion concerning their lives and livelihoods. Mr Glenn Kasper, a representative of Topnaar community in Namibia, illustrated the continuous linkages between his peoples and the ocean, and customary rules about fishing activities. Mr Mike Abaka-Edu, a representative of small-scale fishers from Ghana, contributed with a video-message shedding light on the important role of tenure and access rights for SSF appropriate legislation. He stated that although by law preferential access rights have been implemented in Ghana, at practical level small-scale fishers are still facing challenges arising from commercial fishers operating in areas reserved for SSF.

In addition to the presentations, participants engaged practical group exercises, based on the Policy and Legal Diagnostic Tool. First they assessed the implementation of key requirements of the SSF Guidelines in national fisheries policy and law, following a contextualization for each country based on Hub research. Second, they assessed the coherence between selected national fisheries policy and law with other relevant issues identified in the SSF Guidelines, such as human rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, gender equality, and education. The exercise was meant to understand if any perceived gaps in fisheries law and policy should be considered in the light of other relevant laws and policies in other sectors. Third, participants discussed whether the international legally binding instruments relevant for SSF as well as the formally non-binding ones provide specific indications on how to address the gaps and shortcomings identified in the previous exercises focused on national policy and law. Participants discussed whether there are implementation activities in place for international instruments that are relevant for the SSF sector, and related practical experiences, issues and lessons learnt.