ICSF Thematic Campaigns

ICSF campaigns address four themes: Food Security, Blue Economy, Tenure Rights and Climate Change. These are interrelated themes with varied implications for the lives and livelihoods of Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) communities. They require the engagement of fishworkers’ organizations from across the world.

The campaigns build upon the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines), endorsed by FAO Committee on Fisheries (FAO COFI) in 2014. They carry forward the achievements of 2022, observed as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA). Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, IYAFA-2022 is a milestone in the efforts to recognize and highlight the contributions of SSF to global food security, environmental sustainability and well-being.

IYAFA-2022 brought much-needed visibility to the sector in international processes on sustainable development, marine and aquatic biodiversity and climate change. It highlighted the livelihoods, rights and contributions of SSF, including the diverse women, men, communities and organizations at the heart of the sector. Yet they need greater attention, particularly in the face of rapid changes in the use of terrestrial, aquatic and marine resources.

ICSF will draw the attention of policymakers, civil-society and other stakeholders to the need for inclusive policies and programmes in support of the SSF sector. It will do this through its international research, documentation, advocacy, stakeholder consultations and workshops.

Ongoing activities under these campaigns provide opportunities to collaborate with diverse fishworker and civil society organizations in support of SSF. They can influence global, regional and national processes, showing the SSF sector’s contributions to food security and nutrition. They can ensure the maritime (‘blue’) economy is inclusive and sustainable. They can secure the rights of fishing communities to marine resources and coastal habitats. They can promote the active participation of SSF in efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Current Programmes

Food Security

Small-scale fisheries (SSF) play a unique—frequently hidden—role in assuring nutrition and food security in today’s world. This is even more important for the future. As FAO points out, more than two billion people, a quarter of the world’s population, are food insecure. ‘Zero hunger’ continues to be an important Sustainable Development Goal. Provided adequate support, SSF will continue playing this.... For more:

Justice in the Blue Economy

Blue Economy is an omnibus term for all economic sectors with a direct or indirect link to the ocean. In 2016, OECD projected that by 2030, the Blue Economy could outperform the growth of the global economy as a whole. In various formulations, this includes both old uses of coastal and marine resources (food provisioning, marine transport and infrastructure, energy production, extraction and tourism) and emerging industries (for example, marine biotechnology, seabed mining and carbon sequestration)... For more:

Tenure Rights

The campaign for Tenure Rights seeks a balance between equitable development of fishing communities and the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources on which they depend. The SSF Guidelines make it clear that secure tenure rights to the fishing grounds, to land and other resources form the basis for the social and cultural well-being of fishing communities.... For more:

Climate Change

The impacts of climate change on fisheries and fishing communities cannot be ignored any longer. Recent reports of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) extensively describe the effects of rising carbon emissions on marine ecosystems and fisheries. Moreover, small-scale fisheries (SSF) are constantly having to adapt to pollution and degraded ecosystems, even as they strive to reduce the footprint of overfishing. The environmental and economic impacts of climate change have been well documented. ICSF’s campaign will seek to study and communicate the social consequences of these changes on fishing communities. It will develop guidance specific to the SSF sector... For more:


Setting the Table by Elyse Mills, 2021

A ‘counter mobilization’ to transform corporate food systems included a Global Virtual Rally that highlighted the critical role fisheries play in food security and nutrition Download

Seeds that Can’t Be Buried by Magdalena Ackermann Aredes, 2021

A counter-mobilization event in July 2021 united social movements, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations opposed to the UN Food Systems Summit Download

Eat More Fish by Maureen Cheserek, 2021

For better nutrition outcomes, national fisheries and food policies in Kenya should include aquaculture in developing positive attitudes towards consumption of value-added fish products Download

Eyes on the Prize by Sivaja K Nair, 2022

Small-scale fisheries and the SSF Guidelines were front and centre at the Thirty-fifth Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) Download

From Blue Fear to Blue Trust by Brian O’Riordan, 2022

Representatives of small-scale fishing communities – the most numerous ocean users –launch a Call to Action at the United Nations Ocean Conference 2022 Download

Scaffolding for the Future by ICSF, 2022

The social pillar of sustainable development ought to be strengthened to protect the future of lives and livelihoods in the small-scale fisheries subsector Download

Food first? by ICSF, 1996

Fish is at one and the same time both a source of food and income. This is a quintessential characteristic which should be borne in mind while discussing the issue...

Trading in fish as food by FAO, 2003

A new, ongoing study hopes to shed light on the impact and consequences of international trade in fish and fish products Download

Wild food from sea and forest by Ian Watson, 2004

There are some parallels between overfishing and the bushmeat crisis in west Africa, especially in terms of livelihoods and food security Download

Towards Food Sovereignty by Radha Gopalan, 2016

The international democratic process has come a long way in realizing the role of fish in the right to food and nutrition–and yet, a map of the road ahead needs...

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