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Right to Resources

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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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A study of the fisheries sector in India: An overview of current demand and future prospect -2023

India is thriving in the allied agriculture sector, with fishery, dairy, and livestock being vital livelihood support for millions. The fishery, recognized as a ‘Sunrise Sector’, has seen a double-digit...

Blue economy: Potential, prospects and the path ahead Report by FICCI Blue Economy Task Force 3.0

The Task Force produced FICCI’s first Knowledge Paper entitled ‘Blue Economy Vision 2025: Harnessing Business Potential for India Inc. and International Partners’ in April 2017. The purpose of this knowledge...

Finances of Panchayati Raj Institutions by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), 2024

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released its Report titled “Finances of Panchayati Raj Institutions”. Drawing upon data on 2.58 lakh Panchayats for the years 2020-21 to 2022-23, it presents...

Our beaches, our sea: heritage of fishing communities, usufruct of all citizens

The title of our Report “Our Beaches, Our Sea: Heritage of Fishing Communities, Usufruct of All Citizens” aims to emphasize the profound significance of beaches and the adjacent sea in...

The role of seafood in sustainable diets by J Zachary Koehn et al., 2022

Recent discussions of healthy and sustainable diets encourage increased consumption of plants and decreased consumption of animal-source foods (ASFs) for both human and environmental health. Seafood is often peripheral in...

The sea and the city: From the eyes of Mumbai’s fishing community film by Lalitha Kamath and Gopal Dubey, 2023

What does it mean to live in the city and yet live amidst wetness? We explore this question through the experiences of Mumbai’s indigenous fishing community, the Kolis, that live...

Small fish for food security and nutrition by Maarten Bavinck et al., 2023

Food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition have been on the rise in recent years, due to disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing climate shocks and conflicts. Decades of steady progress...

Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics – Yearbook 2020 by FAO, 2023

The FAO Yearbook of Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics, prepared by the Statistics Team of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, offers a synthesis of the major trends in the fisheries...

Casting nets of change: Exploring the recognition of fishing as work in South Africa’s inland fisheries by Masifundise Development Trust, 2023

The focus of this report is on inland riparian communities that are situated in the vicinity of the Jozini, Vanderkloof, and Gariep dams. The Jozini Dam is fed by the...

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023: Special Edition

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023: Special Edition provides a powerful call to action, presenting a candid assessment of the SDGs based on the latest data and estimates. While highlighting...

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