The Twelfth Session of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture of the FAO Committee on Fisheries was held in Hermosillo, State of Sonora, Mexico, from 16 to 19 May 2023. The Sub-Committee commended FAO’s work during the intersessional period, supported FAO’s efforts to promote aquaculture and expressed appreciation particularly for its global capacity development activities, for the work on aquatic genetic resources and the work on biosecurity, aquatic animal health and antimicrobial resistance.

The Sub-Committee highlighted the importance of aquaculture to food security and nutrition, livelihoods, economic development and public health as well as aquaculture’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals. It recognized aquaculture as an important topic for international cooperation and encouraged FAO to make use of South-South and triangular cooperation for promoting technology exchange of the Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture (EAA).

The Sub-Committee recommended that FAO prioritize work on small-scale aquaculture, and requested FAO develop guidance on climate change mitigation and adaptation for aquaculture, noting that unfed aquaculture can produce aquatic foods with a low environmental and carbon footprint. The Sub-Committee approved the Guidelines for Sustainable Aquaculture (GSA) and recommended that the GSA inform the future programmatic work of FAO. The Sub-Committee called on FAO to raise awareness of the GSA, promote good practices, seek innovative and sustainable sources of funding to provide technical assistance and advice to Members, and explore all platforms and partnerships such as the Global Sustainable Aquaculture Advancement Partnership to support the implementation of the GSA.

The Sub-Committee recognized that gender inequalities in aquaculture persist, called for the development and implementation of more prominent actions toward the improvement of gender equality and women’s empowerment in aquaculture, and requested FAO to explore the creation of a Member-based working group and network on Women in Aquaculture. The Sub-Committee noted the potential of seaweed aquaculture to contribute to global food production, livelihoods and income generation, and that additional support and investment is required to identify suitable farming areas and integrated farming opportunities as well as to deal with issues of food safety, disease, genetics and market-related challenges. The Sub-Committee noted that capacity building is still required and requested FAO to continue with its technical assistance in seaweed aquaculture as well by promoting technical exchanges.