A common commitment for the future

High-level representatives from 18 Mediterranean and Black Sea countries as well as the European Union (EU) just signed in Malta a Ministerial Declaration aimed at implementing a Regional Plan of Action for Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea (RPOA-SSF). This declaration took shape at the end of a long process involving all stakeholders. It is a historic step for the region and a concrete commitment to ensure the long-term environmental, economic and social sustainability for small-scale fisheries within the next decade. This event took place within the framework of the High-level Conference on Sustainable Small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, organized during 25-26 September 2018. Approximately 240 participants from 30 countries gathered at the conference to discuss progress made in recent years and solutions to support the small-scale fisheries sector. Lively stakeholder discussions took place, and fishers and fisher organization actively participated in the debate on key topics such as the role of small-scale fishers in supporting scientific research, improving small-scale fisher livelihoods and enhancing the value chain, promoting social development and decent work, supporting the role of women, co-management and strengthening the role of small-scale fisher organizations in monitoring, control and surveillance of small-scale fisheries.

The declaration was signed by Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the EU.


New international deal protects Central Arctic Ocean’s fish stocks

The signatories of a new treaty to prevent unregulated fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean, a legally binding agreement, has been signed by Greenland, Canada, China, the European Union, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russian Federation, South Korea and the United States.

The treaty’s goal is to protect the Central Arctic Ocean, where shrinking sea ice could draw in factory-fishing trawlers to plunder fish stocks. These waters include those off Nunavut’s Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg islands. Inuit were part of Canada’s negotiating team and they made sure their views were heard.


Indian people owe fishermen more than a few words

A WhatsApp post currently doing the rounds in Kerala, India comprises an image in which a fisherman wearing a red cape, oar in hand, stands near a boat on which rests a cut-out of the state. The accompanying message reads: “Hollywood has Spiderman, Batman, Ironman, but we Keralites have all under one name – fishermen. Some may consider this post to be an exaggeration, considering that a vast number of people across various categories of society – including students, professionals and armed forces personnel – have been involved in the rescue operations for the worst flood to hit Kerala in a century.But these marine fishers are indeed the heroes of these operations. Navy officials, the press, people on social media, politicians across party lines and thousands of local residents who were rescued by them have commended their efficient and selfless service over the past few weeks, especially in the worst-flooded districts of Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur. The involvement of fisherfolk in the rescue effort is remarkable considering the fact that they belong to the lower rungs of Kerala’s socio-economic ladder, are often invisible to other residents of the state, and neglected by the government. Despite this, they mobilised swiftly and efficiently to join the rescue efforts – often at their own cost – and utilised their skills and equipment to help save thousands of lives. The citizens of Kerala owe them more than a few words of thanks and social media memes.


Operação Amazônia Nativa (OPAN)

The first indigenous rights organization founded in Brazil, in 1969, OPAN works to strengthen indigenous peoples, valuing their culture and their ways of social organization, by valuing the management practices of their territories and natural resources, with autonomy and in a sustainable manner. Over the years, OPAN has carried out work in the fields of education, politics, land rights, health and economy, through methodologies based on direct action, by socializing with the communities and through involvement in the daily life of the villages.

Currently, OPAN, together with indigenous groups of the states of Mato Grosso and Amazonas in Brazil, supports the sustainable management of natural resources to generate income as a strategy to strengthen territorial management and protection. Among them is the management of pirarucu (Arapaima gigas), a fish with ancestry of 200-250,000 years, which can grow to more than 2 m in length and a weight of more than 200 kg. As its management is now regulated by a normative instruction of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) and the government of Amazonas state, the pirarucu is no longer threatened in areas where groups of managers operate.

In communities where pirarucu is managed, community members monitor the lakes to prevent illegal fishing. They also count the pirarucus – using a method that was created from the scientific and popular knowledge of residents of the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve (RDS) – to monitor fish stocks, and they implement a series of agreements to establish the plans for the activities of surveillance, fishing and then the commercialization of the fish, the latter being currently a major bottleneck of the activity.

The social mobilization and organization of management groups for the pirarucu have generated a series of other benefits besides income generation. With the territorial protection through community surveillance, the whole system is protected, allowing not only the recovery of pirarucu stocks, but also that of a number of species that use these environments, such as turtles, manatees, birds and other fish, apart from guaranteeing the integrity of the surrounding forest. The strengthening of the social groups involved in the management has led to improvements in the self-esteem of fishermen, the guaranteeing of traditional ways of life, the empowerment of women and the involvement of young people in activities.

– by Gustavo Silveira


Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 24 December 2017

72/249. International legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction

The General Assembly,

Guided by the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling its resolution 69/292 of 19 June 2015,

Taking note of the report of the Preparatory Committee established by General Assembly resolution 69/292: Development of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, and the recommendations contained therein,

  1. Decides to convene an intergovernmental conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee on the elements and to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, with a view to developing the instrument as soon as possible;
  2. Also decides that negotiations shall address the topics identified in the package agreed in 2011, namely, the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, in particular, together and as a whole, marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits, measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments and capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology;
  3. Further decides that, initially with respect to 2018, 2019 and the first half of 2020, the conference shall meet for four sessions of a duration of 10 working days each, with the first session taking place in the second half of 2018, the second and third sessions taking place in 2019, and the fourth session taking place in the first half of 2020, and requests the Secretary-General to convene the first session of the conference from 4 to 17 September 2018;
  4. Decides that the conference shall hold a three-day organizational meeting in New York, from 16 to 18 April 2018, to discuss organizational matters, including the process for the preparation of the zero draft of the instrument;
  5. Requests the President of the General Assembly to undertake consultations, in an open and transparent manner, for the nomination of a President-designate or co-Presidents-designate of the conference;
  6. Reaffirms that the work and results of the conference should be fully consistent with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea;
  7. Recognizes that this process and its result should not undermine existing relevant legal instruments and frameworks and relevant global, regional and sectoral bodies;
  8. Decides that the conference shall be open to all States Members of the United Nations, members of the specialized agencies and parties to the Convention;
  9. Stresses the need to ensure the widest possible and effective participation in the conference;
  10. Recognizes that neither participation in the negotiations nor their outcome may affect the legal status of non-parties to the Convention or any other related agreements with regard to those instruments, or the legal status of parties to the Convention or any other related agreements with regard to those instruments;
  11. Decides that, for the meetings of the conference, the participation rights of the international organization that is a party to the Convention shall be as in the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention and that this provision shall constitute no precedent for all meetings to which General Assembly resolution 65/276 of 3 May 2011 is applicable;
  12. Also decides to invite to the conference representatives of organizations and other entities that have received a standing invitation from the General Assembly pursuant to its relevant resolutions to participate, in the capacity of observer, in its sessions and work, on the understanding that such representatives would participate in the conference in that capacity, and to invite, as observers to the conference, representatives of interested global and regional intergovernmental organizations and other interested international bodies that were invited to participate in relevant conferences and summits;
  13. Further decides that attendance at the conference as observers will also be opened to relevant non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council in accordance with the provisions of Council resolution 1996/31 of 25 July 1996, as well as to those that were accredited to relevant conferences and summits, on the understanding that participation means attending formal meetings, unless otherwise decided by the conference in specific situations, receiving copies of the official documents, making available their materials to delegates and addressing the meetings, through a limited number of their representatives, as appropriate;
  14. Decides to invite associate members of regional commissions to participate in the work of the conference in the capacity of observer;
  15. Also decides to invite representatives of relevant specialized agencies, as well as other organs, organizations, funds and programmes of the United Nations system as observers;
  16. Further decides to forward the report of the Preparatory Committee to the conference;
  17. Decides that the conference shall exhaust every effort in good faith to reach agreement on substantive matters by consensus;
  18. Also decides that, except as provided for in paragraphs 17 and 19 of the present resolution, the rules relating to the procedure and the established practice of the General Assembly shall apply to the procedure of the conference unless otherwise agreed by the conference;
  19. Further decides that, subject to paragraph 17, decisions of the conference on substantive matters shall be taken by a two-thirds majority of the representatives present and voting, before which, the presiding officer shall inform the conference that every effort to reach agreement by consensus has been exhausted;
  20. Recalls its invitation to Member States, international financial institutions, donor agencies, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and natural and juridical persons to make financial contributions to the voluntary trust fund established in resolution 69/292, and authorizes the Secretary-General to expand the assistance provided by this trust fund to include daily subsistence allowance in addition to defraying the costs of economy-class travel, limiting requests for assistance from this trust fund to one delegate per State for each session;
  21. Requests the Secretary-General to appoint a Secretary-General of the conference to serve as focal point within the Secretariat for providing support to the organization of the conference;


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


Sundar, Aparna. 2018. Skills for Work and the Work of Skills: Community, Labour and Technological Change in India’s Artisanal Fisheries. Journal of South Asian Development, 13(3) 1–21pp.

Artisanal cultures of work and skills transmission provide a useful point of contrast from which to think about the renewed interest in skills development as a formal, institutionalized process of training and certification for discrete and standardized skills.

Svein Jentoft, Maarten Bavinck, Enrique Alonso-Población, Anna Child, Antonio Diegues, Daniela Kalikoski, John Kurien, Patrick McConney, Paul Onyango, Susana Siar, Vivienne Solis, 2018. Working together in small-scale fisheries: harnessing collective action for poverty eradication

This paper builds on lessons learned from case studies of organization-building and collective action as a means of eradicating poverty in small-scale fisheries.

Percot, Marie. 2017. Migration as a risky gamble: Places and networks of departure to the Gulf of Bangladeshi fishermen. French Institute of Pondicherry, 76p.

Taking into account the structural factors at play in Bangladesh and Oman, the study tries to explore the agency of the migrants, by highlighting their strategies or tactics at the moment they decide to go from Hatiya, a small island in the Bay of Bengal, from where most fishermen are going to Oman.

Gendering Change in Small-scale Fisheries and Fishing Communities in a Globalized World, Maritime Studies, Volume 17, Issue 2, October 2018

This thematic collection, entitled (En)Gendering Change in Small-scale Fisheries and Fishing Communities in a Globalized World, emerged many years ago and finally materialized. In order to fulfill the idea, researchers from various disciplines and practitioners from different continents, working on women and gender issues in fisheries and coastal communities, were brought together at several occasions to discuss issues pertaining to gender in fisheries.


Women of the Shore

At the crossroads of climate change, the Philippines is likely to be one of the countries most battered from this impending natural phenomenon. This documentary explores the need for sexual and reproductive health and rights awareness amongst fishing and coastal communities, and how to give resilience to the mothers of the shore and the future they face.


Looking beyond Fisheries

This issue of SAMUDRA Report carries seven articlesincluding two extractsthat report on modest to well-attended workshops for raising awareness and for supporting implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). They were held in different places ranging from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific within a time span of eight months during 2015-16 at the regional, national and local levels, and were organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), regional bodies, fisheries projects, national governments, civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Nearly 600 participants representing various stakeholders from over 50 countries, mostly developing countries, attended these workshops.

The workshops saw the SSF Guidelines as a tool to eliminate the marginalization of small-scale fisheries actors at various levels. They highlighted the significance of a holistic and human-rights-based approach, a dimension not upheld in any fisheries instrument so far. Several examples of good practices were provided in relation to legal systems and institutional structures that can potentially support the implementation process.

The Guidelines should, in the first place, act as a reference framework to guarantee preferential access rights to small-scale fisheries and to enable the participation of small-scale fisheries actors, including migrants, in institutional arrangements for sustainable fisheries. Secondly, the Guidelines should seek a balanced outcome and help reform fisheries and social legislation and policies at various levels to protect the right to life and livelihood of marginalized small-scale fishing communities and women in small-scale fisheries, within an ecosystem approach, a gender-sensitive approach and a human-rights-based approach. Thirdly, the Guidelines should assist in winning support from non-fisheries actors to help the social development of fishing communities, both within and outside the fisheries sector.

Towards reaching these goals, we strongly urge governments to take the lead in establishing regional and national plans of action to implement the SSF Guidelines by making space for both State and non-State actors in a consultative and participative manner, upholding the principles of accountability, rule of law and transparency. Such a movewhich goes beyond the immediate bounds of ‘fisheries’can trigger an irreversible process of undoing the marginalization of small-scale fishing communities in different parts of the world.

– from SAMUDRA Report No. 73, April 2016



Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Rome, Italy 14-October-2019 / 18-October-2019

Using a multi-stakeholder, inclusive approach, CFS develops and endorses policy recommendations and guidance on a wide range of food security and nutrition topics. These are developed starting from scientific and evidence-based reports produced by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) and/or through work supported technically by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and representatives of the CFS Advisory Group. CFS holds an annual plenary session every October in FAO, Rome.


The Women’s Industry Network (WIN)

The Women’s Industry Network (WIN) was formed in 1996 by a group of women fishing in South Australia. In 1998 The Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community (WINSC) developed into a national body with organizations in each state. WINSC is the only national organization in Australia representing women in the seafood Industry. It is a unique network covering the tough, high-tech world of commercial fishing, cutting-edge aquaculture, research and processing sectors, and policy and resource management.

Women in Fisheries: Exploring the role of women in fishing families

The aim of the website is to make women in fishing families visible and allow their voices to be heard. Women hold a range of roles in the fishing community and industry. They also play a vital part in the running of many family fishing businesses. Yet, often unpaid and invisible, the contributions of women members of this industry are commonly undervalued and unrecognized.