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The survival of marine and inland fishing communities depends on access to fishing areas, on their collective rights, and adjacent areas for housing fish processing and other community and occupational needs.

Sustainability depends upon effective management of marine and inland fisheries resources. Upon ensuring that overfishing and overcapacity do not degrade the ecological conditions, that they do not harm the breeding stocks of fish. It depends on the collective responsibilities of fishers and fishworkers, regulatory institutions and governments.

ICSF aims to protect and strengthen both collective rights and responsibilities. How? By promoting responsible small-scale fisheries (SSF) through a rights-and-responsibilities framework both in the marine and inland context. By advocating policies that recognize the customary rights and traditional knowledge systems of fishing communities.

With their future dependant on the health of fisheries resources and their distribution, fishers have a great stake in their sustainable management. ICSF programmes help them acquire additional knowledge and skills to adapt their practices to changing conditions. Through training, sound communications and diverse stakeholder involvement—including women, youth, indigenous people marginalized groups—to participate in decision making.

Several ICSF programmes in 2008-2019 analysed, prepared and promoted the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). Along with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the government of Thailand, ICSF organized a civil society preparatory workshop in Bangkok. Before 2008 it held major workshops in Asia (Siem Reap, Cambodia), Eastern and Southern Africa (Zanzibar, Tanzania) and Latin America (Punta de Tralca, Chile).

These events are part of an extensive campaign for secure and equitable tenure rights to fishery resources, not just in the waters but across adjacent land and forests. When fishing rights take into account social and cultural conditions, it helps improve programmes for socioeconomic uplift and environmental protection.

Current Programmes

In light of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF), the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (the Tenure Guidelines), the SSF Guidelines and the SDGs, ICSF has initiated the Making the Small-scale Artisanal Fishing Zones Work! campaign to enforce/create small-scale artisanal non-towed fishing gear zones (SFZs) to benefit fishing communities using these gears and practices in a sustainable manner. The campaign seeks coherence between equitable development of fishing communities and conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in at least three countries before 2024.

Although SFZs or similar area designations exist at the informal level in many coastal nations, the formal creation of SFZs at the national and subnational levels in South and Southeast Asia has a history dating back to the 1970s. In India, for example, SFZs have been created at the subnational level since the 1980s. However, there are no recognized tenure rights to the SFZs. The SSF Guidelines are aware that creating exclusive zones alone are meaningless unless secure tenure rights to the fishing grounds, to land and other resources that form the basis for their social and cultural wellbeing are also granted. The enforcement of the formal SFZs also need to uphold conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources. Governments, fishworker organizations and informal institutions such as traditional panchayats (village councils) in India need to recognize the importance of these elements.

In India, ICSF has initiated the campaign in the state of Andhra Pradesh, starting first with the most disadvantaged (fisher and fishworkers engaged in harvest of fish using no craft or non-motorized traditional craft), paying special attention to the SFZs that are adjacent to the low tide line and earmarked for small-scale artisanal fishing communities. In 2020, ICSF completed the survey of literature and data on fishing practices in marine capture fisheries in India and the social development of coastal fishing communities. Through virtual consultations with its local partner in Andhra Pradesh, ICSF completed the design of the study questionnaire and its translation into Telugu, the local language. The survey documents the various characteristics of the fishery (viz., craft and gear combinations, fishing grounds, species, seasons, conflicts between competing user groups and traditional tenure arrangements and systems of resource management); the social development of non-towed fishers and their families; and their perception in relation to securing rights of relevance to these arrangements, especially to defend their access to marine living resources.

This survey is to be undertaken in two more provinces but is delayed due to the COVID-19 situation and will resume as soon as the public health conditions allow to do so. It will then be extended to Sri Lanka and Indonesia in partnership with relevant fishworker organizations or NGOs

Resources

ALDFG: A Small-scale Fisheries Perspective by Sebastian Mathew

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Problue Global Engagement Forum Lost At Sea: Combating Abandoned, Lost and Otherwise, Discarded Fishing Gear  Salons de l’hôtel des Ars et Mtiers, 9 bis avenue d’lena, 75116 (Paris, France), Sunday,...

ICSF’s interview with Christophe Béné, Senior Policy Advisor at the CIAT, Colombia

ICSF’s interview with Christophe Béné, Senior Policy Advisor at the CIAT, Colombia

Making Small-scale Artisanal Fishing Zones Work!: Research study on the tenure rights of the most vulnerable and marginalized fishers in Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh by Vishakha Gupta

Under Indian legislation, i.e. various state Marine Fishing (Regulation) Act (MFRAs), small-scale traditional fishers are granted exclusive rights to near-shore marine waters, ostensibly to protect their rights and livelihoods. However,...

Report on the Responsible Governance of Tenure in Lake Victoria Fisheries

This report aims to determine how responsible governance of tenure can be implemented in accordance with the SSF Guidelines in Lake Victoria, Tanzania. In this study, qualitative and quantitative research...

Traditional knowledge Use for the Sustainable Management of Marine and Fishing Resources

This study documents three experiences in Central America where traditional knowledge has been used to improve marine spatial planning and frame a new policy oriented towards human rights approaches to...

Organizational Arrangements in the Fisheries of Kerala: A Case study of Kerala State Cooperative Federation for Fisheries Development Ltd (Matsyafed) since 90’s in Kerala

Kerala, having only 590 km coast line quiet often became one of the leading fish producing States in India and a record production of 8.4 lakhs tones of fish was...

Inland Fisheries, Food Security and Poverty Eradication: A case study of Bihar and West Bengal

This study is undertaken, to gain some insight into the status of inland fisheries in India, and highlight some of the research lacunae in this sector, in the hope that...

Small-scale Fishing in Central American Indigenous People: Governance, Tenure and Sustainable Management of Marine Resources

This is one of the first studies focusing on indigenous territories, artisanal fisheries and SSF guidelines. The cases are a first approach to discussing and analyzing relevant social and human...

Eyes On Their Fingertips: Some Aspects of the Arts, Science, Technology and Culture of the Fisherfolk of Trivandrum, India

Eyes on Their Finger Tips deals with the traditional marine wisdom of a set of people and the rarest of rare experiences they have had at sea. Through these numerous...

A Participatory Study of the Traditional Knowledge of Fishing Communities in the Gulf of Mannar, India – in Tamil

This is the first in a series of case studies undertaken by the ICSF to document the traditional knowledge of fishing communities dependent on marine and coastal resources in protected...

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Ocean, Water and Fisher Peoples’ Tribunals: Cutting the nets of capital and weaving nets of solidarity by TNI, 2024

This report reviews evidence from seven Ocean, Water, and Fisher Peoples’ Tribunals across six countries, highlighting key testimonies, demands, and recommendations. It aims to amplify fisher peoples’ struggles for justice,...

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2024: Blue Transformation in action by FAO, 2024

The 2024 edition of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture features the Blue Transformation in action, illustrated by activities and initiatives, led by FAO in collaboration with Members, partners...

Marine Fish Landings in India – 2023 by CMFRI, 2024

The estimated marine fish landings along the mainland of India in 2023 was 3.53 million tonnes, indicating a 1.2% increase compared to the landings in 2022. The marine fish landings...

A Fisher Development Index (FDI) for assessing Human Development in marine fishers of Kerala, India

Growth and development are two different connotations in the context of fishers. Over the years, the fisher community in Kerala has had a Human Development Index (HDI) which are lower...

World Report 2024: The Human Rights System Is Under Threat: A Call to Action published by Human Rights Watch, 2024

This 34th annual World Report summarizes human rights conditions in over 100 countries and territories worldwide in 2023. It reflects extensive investigative work that Human Rights Watch staff conducted during...

Human Development Report 2023-2024: Breaking the gridlock: Reimagining cooperation in a polarized world, UNDP, 2024

The 2023/24 Human Development Report assesses the dangerous gridlock resulting from uneven development progress, intensifying inequality, and escalating political polarization, that we must urgently tackle. The report emphasizes how global interdependence is...

Dredging destruction: Human rights violations and environmental destruction in international dredging projects insured by the Dutch state by Both ENDS, 2024

Recent years have witnessed an increase of large-scale marine and coastal infrastructure projects around the world. Such projects have wreaked havoc on coastal communities and marine ecosystems. Between 2012 and...

Propelling India’s blue economy: technological and governance perspectives in fisheries and aquaculture by A. Gopalakrishnan et al., 2024

The blue economy, encompassing sustainable utilization of coastal and oceanic resources, has gained global significance in the context of the developing discourse on economic growth and environmental conservation in ocean-based...

Poverty line income and fisheries subsidies in developing country fishing communities by Louise S. L. Teh et al., 2024

Eradicating poverty and harmful fisheries subsidies are two pressing challenges frequently addressed in international agendas for sustainable development. Here we investigate a potential solution for addressing both challenges simultaneously by...

World Food and Agriculture – Statistical Yearbook 2023 by FAO, 2023

This publication offers a synthesis of the major factors at play in the global food and agricultural landscape. Statistics are presented in four thematic chapters, covering the economic importance of...

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