It is important that artisanal fishing communities be provided with broader information on international trade in fish and fishery products, a meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organzation of the United Nations (FAO) was told.

The plea was made in an intervention by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) at the 13th Session of the FAO Sub-Committee on Fisheries (COFI) being held at Hyderabad, India, during 20-24 February 2012.

The intervention noted that growing regional trade agreements (RTAs),including free trade agreements and economic partnership agreements, between, and amongst, developed and developing countries are a matter of worry for several small-scale fishing communities. Many local fishing communities are worried that RTAs negatively impact on domestic fish production and domestic fish prices.

Geographical indications (GI) under the trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS ) regime of the World Trade Organization (WTO) can benefit small-scale fishing communities in developing countries, in particular. Along with emphasizing the need to facilitate application of ecolabels originating from small-scale fisheries, FAO may also provide information on how GIs can assist small-scale fishery communities in gaining international market, the ICSF intervention stated.

Information is also needed on the status of low-value fish and fishery products, especially in intra-regional trade in Africa and Asia. Intra-regional trade in low-value fish and fishery products is significant for the nutritional and food security of the poor in many developing countries and towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating poverty and hunger, the intervention noted.

Trade in services is another area that ICSF flagged for the attention of FAO. Fishers are recruited from one country to work on board distant-water fishing vessels, or in fish-processing plants, of third countries. Environment and food-safety services of relevance to fisheries management and food-safety standards are rendered through commercial presence that can also be treated under trade in services, under the WTO General Agreement in Trade in Services (GATS).

Through its intervention, ICSF requested FAO to provide an effective forum for comprehensive consultations not only on all significant technical and economic aspects of international trade in fish and fishery products, but also on the social aspects of international trade in fish and fishery products.

With the increasing globalization of fish trade, it would be fair and appropriate if FAO also provides information on working and living conditions in the context of international trade, especially on the impact of international trade relevant to fisheries, on fishworkers, both men and women, to ensure that decent work of fishworkers is not compromised for short-term benefits in international trade, the ICSF intervention stressed.

The full text of the intervention can be accessed at

ICSF is an international NGO that works towards the establishment of equitable, gender-just, self-reliant and sustainable fisheries, particularly in the small-scale, artisanal sector.

For more, please visit

2012 ICSF