IUU Fishing

Cuba’s accession to accord signals important step in global anti-rogue fishing effort.

2016, RomeCuba has helped to edge forward global efforts targeting illegal fishing by acceding to a FAO-brokered international pact that now requires the adherence by just one more party before coming into force.

On 25 March 2016, Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations agencies in Rome, Alba Soto Pimentel, formally presented FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva with Cuba’s instrument of accession to the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

“Cuba’s accession to this international treaty is a sign of the political will of the Government of Cuba to contribute in an effective and concrete way in support of measures for the protection and sustainability of ecosystems and the preservation of marine biodiversity, Ambassador Soto Pimentel said.

For his part, the FAO Director-General strongly welcomed Cuba’s accession. “I am sure it is an example which will be followed by many other countries in the Caribbean region, Graziano da Silva said.

The Agreement, which will create binding obligations, comes into force when 25 countries or regional economic blocs have deposited their instrument of adherence with the FAO Director-General. With Cuba’s adherence, 23 countries and the European Union, on behalf of its members, have deposited 24 instruments of adherence. Among the latest are Barbados, Guyana, Republic of Korea, South Africa and the United States.

Graziano da Silva has expressed confidence that the target of 25 could be reached by July this year.

Illicit fishing, which includes operating without authorization, harvesting protected species, using outlawed fishing gear and violating quota limits, may account for up to 26 mn tonnes a year, or more than 15 per cent of the world’s total annual capture fisheries output.

Besides economic damage, such practices can threaten local biodiversity and food security in many countries. Port State measures set standards for inspection of foreign vessels that seek to enter the port of another State. Importantly, the measures allow a country to block ships it suspects of having engaged in illicit fishing and thereby prevent illegal catches from entering local and international markets.

To assist countries in building their capacity to implement the Agreement, FAO has convened a series of regional workshops around the world, with participation from over 100 countries.

By becoming party to, and implementing, the Agreement, States will be in a position to better achieve the objectives of the voluntary 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which seeks to promote the long-term sustainability of the sector.




First Session of Preparatory Committee

The first session of the Preparatory Committee on the elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) convened from 28 March – 8 April 2016 at UN Headquarters in New York.

Meeting in plenary and informal working group settings, the Committee considered: the scope of an international legally binding instrument and its relationship with other instruments; guiding approaches and principles; marine genetic resources, including questions on benefit-sharing; area-based management tools, including marine protected areas; environmental impact assessments; and capacity building and marine technology transfer.

Delegates engaged in frank discussions, outlining their detailed positions on the various elements related to the 2011 “package. On the final day, they agreed to a procedural roadmap outlining the structure of PrepCom 2, and on having a Chair’s summary of the meeting and an indicative list of issues circulated during the intersessional period, to facilitate preparations for PrepCom 2.




Haor Farmers and Fishers Alliance (HFFA)

Haor Farmers and Fishers Alliance is a platform to raise the voices of farmers and fishers of Bangladesh. (Haor is a wetland ecosystem of Bangladesh.) HFFA seeks to establish young leadership to ensure meaningful lives for farmers and fishers who face many challenges, including the impacts of climate change. HFFA held its 8th General Assembly on 22 January 2016, where representatives of farmers and fishers selected their leaders for the next three years. The newly formed central committee also reviewed the organizational status of HFFA.

HFFA has 13,000 members (8,000 men and 5,000 women). Its organizational structure is divided into Upazila Committees, a District/Main Committee and a Technical Committee.

HFFA has finalized and set its objectives with the consultations with its members and free stakeholders. ‘Objectives of HFFA’ is a result of almost two years of continuous knowledge gathering and sharing.

The main objectives of HFFA, which were set in consultation with its members and stakeholders over a two-year period, are to (i) establish knowledge-based farmers’ and fishers’ communities, (ii) create an enabling environment for farmers and fishers to identify their legitimate rights and appropriate responsibilities, and (iii) enhance the capacities of farmers and fishers to utilize resources sustainably.

HFFA believes in a rights-based approach to enable farmers and fishers to lay claim to their legitimate rights. It also seeks to sensitize the ‘duty bearers’ towards the needs of the rights holders.

Considering that the youth of Bangladesh are not showing enough interest in agriculture, HFFA tries to engage with young farmers, fishers and community leaders to help revive the fisheries and farming sectors.



The economics of fisheries is related to forestry, water, and even non-renewable resources by the notion of optimal investment and disinvestments, or when and how much to subtract or harvest.



The Role of Trade in Fisheries

Fish and fishery products are among the most traded food commodities worldwide. Trade plays a major role in the fishery industry as a creator of employment, food supplier, income generator, contributor to economic growth and development, and to food and nutrition security. For many countries and for numerous coastal, riverine, insular and inland regions, fishery exports are essential to the economy.

Fishery trade has been expanding considerably in recent decades, with the fisheries sector operating in an increasingly globalized environment. Fish can be produced in one country, processed in a second and consumed in a third. Sustained demand, trade liberalization policies, globalization of food systems, technological innovations as well as changes in distribution and marketing have significantly modified the way fishery products are prepared, processed, marketed and delivered to consumers.

During the last two years, the global fishery and aquaculture sector has continued to expand, with sustained growth in overall production, trade and consumption, despite high prices for many important species. The shift towards relatively greater consumption of farmed species, compared with wild fish, hit a milestone in 2014, when the farmed sector’s contribution to fish food supply overtook that of wild fish for the first time.

A growing share of fishery and aquaculture production is directed to human consumption, as more people worldwide appreciate the health benefits of regular fish consumption. Fish and fishery products play a crucial role in nutrition and global food security, accounting for about 17 per cent of the world population’s intake of animal proteins. World apparent per capita fish food consumption increased from about 18.7 kg to more than 20 kg during 20112015, with major growth in emerging economies. This expansion in demand has been driven by a combination of population growth, rising incomes and urbanization, and facilitated by the strong expansion of fish production and more efficient distribution channels. International trade plays an important role in this respect, allowing countries to diversify consumption, thus providing wider choices to consumers.

Despite the overall increase in the availability of fish to most consumers, growth patterns of per capita apparent fish consumption have been uneven, for example, remaining static or decreasing in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Availability and disposable income are not the only factors to boost fish consumption. It is evident that socioeconomic and cultural factors also strongly influence the level of fish consumption among countries and within countries in terms of quantity and variety consumed. The long-term challenge for policymakers is to sustain and to improve the intake per capita of fish as a source of proteins and essential micro-nutrients not readily found in other foods. In the next decade, major expansion in demand is expected to occur in developing countries, but consumption will increase in all continents, with Asia showing the fastest growth rates. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, per capita consumption may decrease in scenarios with very high population growth.

A significant share of total fish production (about 36 per cent, live-weight equivalent) is exported, reflecting the sector’s degree of openness and integration into international trade. In 2014, more than three-quarters of the quantity of fish and fishery products exported were destined for direct human consumption.

International trade of fish and fishery products has significantly increased during the last few years, peaking at US$ 144 bn in 2014. However, preliminary estimates for 2015 point to a decline of about 10 per cent to US$ 130 bn. There are several reasons for this contraction, including the weakening of many key emerging markets and lower prices for a number of important species. However, the primary underlying cause of this decline is the strong gain of the US dollar versus multiple currencies, particularly those of major seafood exporters such as the European Union (EU, Member Organization), Norway and China. The decline should be only in value terms, whereas traded volumes should remain rather stable or slightly increase.

Trade in fish and fishery products is, to a large extent, driven by demand from developed countries, which dominate world fishery imports, although with a declining share in recent years (73 per cent share of world imports in 2014 vs 81 per cent in 2004 and 85 per cent in 1994). Their imports of products from capture fisheries and aquaculture originate from both developed and developing countries, giving many producers an incentive to produce, process and export.

This is a major reason for the low import tariffs on fish in developed countries, albeit with a few exceptions (that is, some value-added products), and has allowed developing countries to supply fishery products to markets in developed countries without facing prohibitive customs duties. This trend follows the expanding membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the entry into force of a number of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, and rising disposable incomes in emerging economies. In several cases, the most important barriers for developing countries to increase their exports to developed countries are non-tariff measures, such as the difficulty to adhere to quality and safety import requirements.

Some of the major issues of international fish trade are:

  • the relationship between fisheries management policy, allocation of rights and the economic sustainability of the sector,
  • the growing concern of the general public and the retail sector about overfishing of certain fish stocks,
  • the role of the small-scale sector in fish production and trade,
  • the increasing concern about social and labour conditions within the industry and its suppliers,
  • IUU fishing and its impact on the value chain as well as on labour conditions within the sector,
  • the impact on the domestic fisheries and aquaculture sector from a surge in imports of farmed products,
  • the globalization of supply chains, with growing outsourcing of production,
  • the significant increase of eco-labels and their possible effect on market access for developing countries,
  • the requirement for new traceability systems,
  • the economic instability and the risk of increased protectionism using non-tariff barriers or high import tariffs,
  • the impact of mega trade agreements in the international flow of fishery products,
  • the volatility of commodity prices in general and the impact on producers as well as on consumers,
  • the currency exchange volatility and its impact on trade of fishery products,
  • the prices and distribution of margins and benefits throughout the fisheries value chain,
  • the need for competitiveness of fish and fishery products vs other food products,
  • the incidence of fraud in the denomination of commercial names of fish and fishery products,
  • the difficulty to meet the stringent rules for quality and safety by several countries,;
  • the perceived and real risks and benefits of fish consumption, and
  • the perception of aquaculture by stakeholders.

Source: Excerpted from the Trade sub-committee report



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


Voices from African Artisanal Fisheries: Giving the Floor to Those Who Live from Fishing. March 2016

From Senegal to Togo, from Guinea-Bissau to Mauritania, from Tunisia to Ghana, communities living from maritime fisheries show the same attachment to the sea and face the same challenges.

Between September 2014 and November 2015, the West African Network of Journalists for Responsible Fisheries (rejoprao), in collaboration with the African Confederation of Fisheries Professional Organizations (CAOPA), went to meet artisanal fisheries stakeholders in these six countries. In each country, they visited fishing sites, had exchanges with groups of men and women living from fishing, made individual interviews and did documentary research.

The outcome document provides a better understanding and honestly describes the realities in which fishing communities have to live and work, and the challenges they face. It also shows that, beyond the often unreliable statistics, African artisanal fisheries are composed of men and women who want to be heard. Built around a series of six field reports, this publication gives the floor to artisanal fisheries stakeholders, who share their fears and hopes for the future. For the full report, please visit:

The Seas Will Save Us: How an Army of Ocean Farmers are Starting an Economic Revolution

This article demonstrates the various issues in fishing over the years, and also demonstrates different aspects of aquaculture.

The article focuses on the new face of environmentalism, as food systems are pushed out to sea, and how privatization can be blocked.


Training Material on the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainabe Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines)

CoopeSoliDar has produced a number of training materials on the SSF Guidelines in Spanish, with English titles. The videos relate to different aspects of the SSF Guidelines such as access rights, participative governance, capacity strengthening and food security.

These are available as Flash presentations for different users at



Guiding Small-scale Fisheries

The Twenty-ninth Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), held in Rome in early 2011, agreed on the important role played by the small-scale fisheries sector and decided to give it high priority and adequate visibility. The Committee approved the development of a new international instrument on small-scale fisheries. A set of international voluntary guidelines that would draw on relevant existing instruments complementing the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, to address both inland and marine small-scale fisheries in developing countries, will be developed. This is to be done with the involvement of all stakeholders. The FAO Council subsequently lent support to COFI by including the work on small-scale fisheries in the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) for the year 2012-13.

The workshop-cum symposium on sustainable small-scale fisheries, organized by the National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF), India, in collaboration with ICSF, and held at Kolkata in September 2011, was intended to contribute to the process of developing the proposed FAO guidelines.

At least nine similar meetings are scheduled to be held under the auspices of civil society organizations such as the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) and the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers (WFF) during the next three months to contribute to the guidelines process.

This is the first time that several meetings are being organized under the auspices of civil society organizations in preparation for a proposed FAO fishery instrument. These meetings and their pertinent outcomes should be seen by the FAO Member States and the Secretariat as an opportunity to benefit from a bottom-up process to develop meaningful voluntary guidelines on securing sustainable small-scale fisheries, to complement the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. They should also be seen as a promising beginning to broadening the participation of civil society organizations in the fisheries work of FAO.

– from Comment in SAMUDRA Report No. 60, November 2011




Committee on Fisheries (COFI) 32nd Session,
11 – 15 July 2016, Italy, Rome

Amongst other things, the 32nd Session of the COFI, will also discuss the implementation of the SSF Guidelines

Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Aquatic Genetic Resources
20 – 22 June 2016, Italy, Rome

The meeting will focus on access and benefit-sharing for aquatic genetic resources.


Port State Measures for IUU fishing

FAO’s theme page on Port State measures, provides information on latest news, key facts, and statements from different officials besides providing the complete text of the Agreement and Ratification Status.

SSF Guidelines Implementation

This website is part of a joint effort by the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), the World Forum of Fish Harvestors and Fish Workers (WFF), Centro Internazionale Crocevia and the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF), as part of the efforts to disseminate information on the implementation of the SSF Guidelines, especially through capacity building and awareness-raising workshops in different parts of the world.

Combating unacceptable forms of work in the Thai fishing and seafood industry

This project, funded by the EU, aims to address working conditions that deny fundamental principles and rights at work in the Thai fishing and seafood processing industry.—asia/—ro-bangkok/documents/projectdocumentation/wcms_460872.pdf