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Seal of Approval for Maldives Tuna

THE International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) has praised a new initiative that will see all exports of Maldives pole-and-line skipjack tuna caught in the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified fishery carry a Validation Certificate issued by the Maldives Seafood Processors and Exporters Association (MSPEA).

The Validation Certificate confirms that the fish have been caught in the Maldives and by the traditional pole-and-line fishing method. The MSPEA has based the new certificate on official catch records, and without it the market should not accept the product as MSC-certified Maldives pole-and-line skipjack tuna.

Each shipment of fish will also travel with a validated IUU Fishing Regulation catch certificate, which is required for all wild-caught fish exported into the European Union, to show it has been caught legally. In the case of Maldives tuna, the catch certificate is issued by the Maldivian government.

Through the pairing of these certificates, the Maldives is ensuring full traceability of its skipjack resource throughout the supply chain and allowing end-markets to trace the product back to a sustainable, MSC-certified source.

The Maldives’ pole-and-line skipjack fishery achieved MSC status in November 2012. It was the first large pole-and-line fishery and the first Indian Ocean fishery to achieve MSC certification. Skipjack from members of the client group MSPEA is now eligible to be marketed with the MSC’s eco-label and these members are dedicated to preserving the credibility of this unique status.

“It is vital to the survival of fisheries such as the Maldives pole-and-line skipjack fishery that the catch achieves its full market potential. MSC certification was a big step towards realising this potential and now that MSC-certified Maldivian skipjack has started to arrive in European supermarkets, the new Validation Certificate gives further peace of mind to those companies that have supported Maldivian tuna, says Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan, chairman of the IPNLF.

“Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a growing problem around the world; it reduces fish stocks and makes it harder to manage fisheries sustainably, which affects the livelihoods of local fishermen and can cause extreme damage to the marine environment, he adds.

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Coastal Cities

For the first time in human history, more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and each year tens of millions more people become city dwellers through births and migration.We have become an urban species.

What does this have to do with marine ecosystems?Most of the world’s urban population is coastal.According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (, for example, two-thirds of the world’s largest cities are on coasts.Coastal cities occur because that is where ecosystem services are often abundant.The adjacent seas supply food, allow for transportation and trade, carry away wastes, and so on.

Although the focus of ecosystem-based management is often on marine agencies and uses (for example, on how to manage fisheries, and where to site offshore energy facilities), the solutions to at least some of our oceans’ ills start in our cities. Urban runoff and wastewater pollute coastal seas. Poorly planned urban development results in lost wetlands and other coastal ecosystems.

Source: cities



CoopeTárcoles R.L.: Tárcoles Fishermen’s Co-operative, Costa Rica

CoopeTárcoles R.L, is a fishermen’s co-operative that was founded in 1985 and which is located in the community of Tárcoles in Costa Rica.

It is the only co-operative in this industry that has managed to keep going over the long term despite the constant adversities that the sector faces.

The continued decline of fisheries production due to industrial fishing and climate change mean that CoopeTárcoles and its associated fishermen find themselves in a highly vulnerable situation.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that artisanal fishing is the motor driving the community of Tárcoles

The community is 85 per cent dependent on this activity. CoopeTárcoles R.L., is, therefore, hugely important not just for its 35 members but also for their families, which include children and even single mothers who depend indirectly on the wellbeing of the co-operative to enable them to get on, through undertaking “lujado which involves the untangling of fishing gear (lines) to allow fishermen to do their work the next day.

Furthermore, in 2004 CoopeTárcoles R.L., with the support of CoopeSoliDar R.L., became the first co-operative in the whole of Central America to adopt voluntarily a code for responsible fisheries, which applies particular rules that contribute to environmentally friendly fishing and appropriate ways of handling fish products.

In 2006 the co-operative gained United Nations recognition (the UNDP Equator Prize) for its important work on poverty reduction and good environmental management.

CoopeTárcoles R.L., has set an example in recent years for social work and has been the model followed by other fishing communities. It has been visited by groups of fishermen who would like to copy the good management practices of CoopeTárcoles R.L.

The co-operative hopes to continue supporting fishermen in their struggle to provide, in a decent and responsible manner, the means for their families to prosper, and to provide the country with fresh fish products in a responsible fashion through its fish shop and intermediaries.

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Baseline Surveys

During the early phases of the Regional Fisheries Livelihood Programme for South and Southeast Asia (RFLP), baseline surveys were carried out in all six RFLP countries, namely, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Timor Leste and Sri Lanka. The results helped shape national RFLP priorities and activities while the surveys themselves revealed a wealth of valuable data concerning small-scale fishing communities.

As part of an exercise to highlight key baseline findings and to make the survey results more accessible and understandable by a wider audience graphic summaries of each survey have been produced.

It is hoped that these will help add to the level of understanding of small-scale fishing communities in South and Southeast Asia and act as gateway to the more detailed information contined in the surveys themselves.

RFLP undertakes field activities in Cambodia in coastal fishing communities in all four coastal provinces of the country: Koh Kong, Kampot, Preah Sihanouk and Kep. The coastline is 435 km long and there are approximately 10,000 people engaged in the marine fisheries sector. The RFLP project coordination office is based in Sihanoukville meanwhile the implementing agency in Cambodia is the Fisheries Administration (FiA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). The survey’s coverage was 15 Community Fisheries (CFis) in 40 villages of Cambodia’s coastal provinces, as well as government agencies in Phnom Penh. A total of 778 people from 15 stakeholder groups were interviewed, of which 624 came from CFis at village level and 53 respondents from government agencies at commune and provincial levels. ( One of the outcomes of the survey clearly shows that women are clearly less satisfied with, and engaged in, fisheries management and livelihood development activities resulting from other agencies’ and organizations’ interventions. RFLP/CAM clearly needs to develop a special emphasis on the situation of women in coastal fisheries. Ideas should be developed with a view to addressing women’s needs specifically through co-management plans and their implementation, and to strengthen women’s participation in CFi decision-making bodies. The Community Fisheries (CFi) programme so far scores better on more bureaucratic issues (in fisheries co-management, for example), and less with regard to genuine engagement by ordinary users/members. There is a need to formulate and implement activities for improving communication and interaction both within CFis as well as between CFis and supporting agencies and organizations.

RFLP field activities in Indonesia were undertaken in the Province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) and specifically in four out of 20 regencies, namely, Kupang District, Kupang Municipality, Alor District and Rote Ndao District. Fieldwork for the RFLP Indonesia baseline surveys was carried out during late 2010 and early 2011 with 272 households sampled across the target areas.

Fisher groups (kelompok nelayan) are the main actors in Indonesian coastal communities and are important initiators of co-management. Fisher group initiation has had only limited success in NTT with group consensus (musyawarah) being the main mode of fisheries management.

From the results, it can be said that the prospect for fisheries co-management output is relatively high in Alor District and moderate in Kupang District and Rote Ndao District. In Kupang Municipality, the prospect for fisheries co-management is considered low. In the context of safety at sea, the prospect of this output in the municipality and the three districts of RFLP East Nusa Tenggara are considered low because of the limited mechanisms and systems to ensure the safety at sea of coastal fishing communities.

RFLP activities in Vietnam were undertaken in Quang Tri, Quang Nam and Thua Thien Hue. These provinces are characterized by increasing fishing effort but stagnant, and, in some cases, reduced fish production. Fishing communities are not strongly organized, while health and quality standards of fishery products are often low. Throughout the three study areas, many respondents, especially women, are generally unaware of the co-management concept and its potential usefulness in fisheries management. Interestingly, respondents feel that the government is heavily responsible for fisheries management and policy. Both men and women claim that government efforts are more effective compared to community-based management mechanisms.

Sri Lanka’s lagoon and estuary areas play a valuable role in the support of coastal Fisheries. The baseline survey was done in two districtsPuttalam (Chilaw and Puttalam lagoon) and Gampaha (Negombo lagoon). The survey showed that respondents possess limited understanding of the co-management concept. They believed that the State has low to moderate involvement/impact on fisheries management. The survey showed that women are very active in fisheries management meetings as they often represent their husbands. Most fishers believe that a combination of both traditional and formal fisheries management methods is the most effective way to manage coastal resources.

In the Philippines, the survey was undertaken in two coastal cities (Dipolog and Dapitan) and 10 municipalities of Zamboanga del Norte province in Mindanao Island. According to the survey, many fishers believe that the government is the main actor in fisheries management and enforcement. Some communities also felt that coastal management should be only managed by the government, not the local community. Women in these areas are more recognized for their efforts in environmental conservation and sustainable management of fishery resources. Respondents declared that mangrove decline is a result of conversion of mangrove areas into residential and commercial areas.

The baseline survey was conducted in Baucau, Dili, Bobonaro, Covalima and Oecusse districts in Timor-Leste, where the concept and terminology of co-management was poorly understood by the local fisher groups. Tara bandu is the traditional system of resource management in certain districts, developed by traditional local leaders and elders, and operating as an unwritten agreement. It protects an area from exploitative actions by specifying activities that are prohibited. Women mainly manage household finances and are more active in the selling and processing of landings.

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ICSF’s Documentation Centre ( has a range of information resources that are regularly updated. A selection:


Welcomme, R., Lymer, D. An Audit of Inland Capture Fishery Statistics – Africa. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1051. Rome, FAO. 2012. 61 pp.

Fish catch reports from the 20 highest producing countries in the world (representing more than 94 percent of the total catch) are analyzed for consistency by a subjective evaluation based on the form of the data set, knowledge of trends in climate, predicted yield patterns from models of similar fisheries and the results of independent research. The other African countries are examined in less detail. The audit shows that 37 per cent of countries reported catches as still rising, 28 per cent as falling and 35 per cent as stable. The reported catch from about 72 per cent of countries is judged to need some clarification before these trends can be fully understood.

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Selling the Sea, Fishing for Power: A study of conflict over marine tenure in Kei Islands, eastern Indonesia by Dedi Supriadi Adhuri

Asia-Pacific Environment Monograph 8. Australian National University. ISBN 9781922144836 (Online), Published March 2013

This book proposes a different perspective on communal marine tenure from the current view that sees tenure merely as a means of marine resource management. The perspective presented here considers marine tenure in a broader social context, incorporating the ways in which traditional marine tenure is embedded in the social world of the community. Therefore, an understanding of how people perceive and practice traditional marine tenure should reflect the community social structure and, in particular, demonstrate the importance of ‘power play’ in determining marine tenure and management practice.

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Japan’s ‘ama’ free divers

To this day, descendants of the Japanese ama-san continue a seasonal semi-nomadic lifestyle, as shown in this video. In the winter months, they stay close to mainland shores, diving for namako (sea cucumber) and oysters.

Come spring, a few elders move to Hegura Island, an outpost 50 km from the peninsula shores. Younger ama-san follow during the monsoon rains in late June and for three months a year, the ama divers claim their hereditary rights to dive for abalone in the waters around Hegura Island; local historical records show that the claim was bestowed to their female ancestors by Lord Maeda during the feudal Tokugawa era (1603-1867).

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The Price of Imprudence

In the end, the irony was not only unforeseen, but also unfortunate and bitter for fishers all over the world. At the final record vote on its adoption at the 93rd Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), the proposed Convention on Work in the Fishing Sector did have the required two-thirds majority but the vote was declared invalid because it did not attain quorum. It is doubtful if there has ever been such a precedent in the history of the International Labour Organization (ILO) that a draft Convention and Recommendation adopted by the relevant Committee has not been adopted by the ILC for want of quorum.

These instruments could have been the handles for developing countries to lift the lids off their fishing sectors and look at current developments in fishing from the perspective of labour and welfare. They provide the structure for creating standards for an occupational sector that is among the most hazardous on earth.

Intriguingly enough, despite these manifest benefits to fishers, some developing-country governments, especially from Asia, and almost all Employer representatives, decided to abstain from voting, cleverly defusing a Convention that had actually won a clear majority at the record vote.

The short-run acquiescence to the Employer group could ultimately cost dear. In the long term, developing countries would possibly be forced to comply with far stricter forms of labour standards dictated by developed countries that are important markets for fish and fish products from developing countries. (It is worth remembering that 50 per cent of fish entering the world export trade comes from developing countries.) The non-tariff measures currently confined to food safety and environmental standards can tomorrow be extended to labour as well. Prudence dictates that developing countries should voluntarily move towards labour standards in fishing, considering that it is one of the most globalized industries today.

– from the Comment in SAMUDRA Report No. 41, July 2005




Technical Consultation to negotiate the final text of the International Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines), Committee on Fisheries.

20-24 May 2013, Rome, Italy

The 29th Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) held in February 2011 recommended that an international instrument on small-scale fisheries be developed. This is based on the increasing recognition of small-scale fisheries as a principal contributor to poverty alleviation and food security and the guidance provided by a number of global and regional conferences and consultative meetings exploring how to better bring together responsible fisheries and social development in coastal and inland fishing communities.

Global Dialogue Forum for the Promotion of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188)

15-17 May 2013, Geneva

The meeting will discuss challenges in the Convention’s implementation and evaluate how it can be used as a tool to address major issues in the sector.

It will also share good practices and experiences, report and review promotional activities, and provide an update on the status of national efforts to implement and ratify Convention No.188.–en/index.htm



The website of the Central American Training Programme of ICSF has links to all the training material and modules prepared for the programme.