News, events, briefings and more…

E N D A N G E R E D  S P E C I E S

World Nations Reject Ban on Bluefin Tuna

Governments attending the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have rejected an EU-backed proposal to ban trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna to give the species time to reproduce.

The European Commission decided in September 2009 to put to member states its proposal to co-sponsor Monaco’s attempt to get Atlantic bluefin tuna listed as endangered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The listing would effectively suspend international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna until stocks are no longer threatened with extinction.

Spain, Italy, France and Greece, which feature among Europe’s largest fishing fleets, initially challenged the plan, saying transition measures were needed for fishermen to adapt to the ban

Japan, Canada and several Arab League countries rejected the proposal to effectively suspend international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna until stocks are no longer threatened with extinction.

They argued that the decline of bluefin tuna stocks would be best tackled by regional fisheries management organizations such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). They also argued that banning trade “would not stop the fishing of the species anyway.

Only the United States, Norway and Kenya supported the original proposal for an immediate ban. The EU asked for implementation of the trade ban to be delayed until May 2011 to give authorities time to respond to concerns about overfishing. The amendment introduced by the EU and Monaco was defeated, with 20 votes in favour, 68 against and 30 abstentions “in the middle of much confusion about the voting procedures and mixed feelings of satisfaction and frustration from participants, CITES said in a statement.

The EU executive said it was “disappointed with the outcome and now looks to the inter-governmental fishery organization responsible for the conservation of tuna (ICCAT) “to take its responsibility to ensure that stocks are managed in a sustainable way.

Environmental organizations immediately condemned the failure, claiming that it sets the species “on a pathway to extinction.

Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Oliver Knowles regretted that the future of the species had been left in the hands of ICCAT, which he referred to as “the very organization responsible for the dire state of bluefin tuna stocks today.


O R G A N I Z A T I O N A L  P R O F I L E

National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF)

The National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF), established in 1978, is a national federation of trade unions and organizations of fishworkers in India. It was formally registered as a trade union in 1985. The formation of NFF was a direct result of fishworkers’ struggles along the coast of India during the late 1970s, subsequent to the conflict between the newly introduced mechanized trawlers and the small-scale, traditional and artisanal fishworkers.

The forum has since then continued to represent the grievances and demands of artisanal fishworkers in India, and has grown in strength and influence at the State and national level. The struggle of the fishworkers took off on a national level in 1989 with the Kanyakumari “Protect Waters, Protect Life march, when fishworkers marched in two streams, one starting from Mumbai and the other from Kolkata, to converge at Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India. The fishworkers and their supporters had traversed the coastline, visiting fishing pockets along the way, where local units had rallied for the march, to spread the message of the need to protect fragile aquatic ecosystems, around which the lives of fishworkers pivot.

NFF actively campaigned against the Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) Notification proposed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, based on the recommendation of the Swaminathan Committee, which was to replace the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 1991. The Macchimar Adhikar Rashtriya Abhiyan (“Save the Coast, Save the Fishers), a two-month yatra (march), traversed the entire coast of India, from Kutch to Kolkata, mobilizing support for the better implementation of the CRZ Notification, and for scrapping the controversial draft CMZ Notification.

The CMZ notification was finally withdrawn in June 2009.

NFF is currently organizing regional and State-level workshops on the draft Marine Fishing (Regulation and Management) Act for the management of fisheries resources in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of India.

NFF is a member of the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB). NFF is also actively campaigning for a national-level legislation to comply with the International Labour Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention 2007.


Bosnia and Herzegovina ratifies the 2007 ILO Fishing Convention

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the first International Labour Organization (ILO) Member State to ratify the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188).

The new Convention, which revises and brings up-to-date in an integrated manner most of the existing ILO fishing instruments, provides a modern and flexible regulatory framework covering large fishing operations but also addressing the concerns of small-scale fishers.

Convention No. 188 will enter into force 12 months after the date on which the ratifications of ten Members, eight of which are coastal States, have been registered with the Director-General.

Source: ILO

F I S H E R I E S  S T A T I S T I C S

Inland Capture Fisheries in the Asia-Pacific Region

The global inland capture fisheries catch passed 10 mn tonnes for the first time in 2007, with developing countries accounting for more than 94 per cent of the total global inland catches in 2004, and almost 91 per cent in 2006. China is the largest producer, followed by Bangladesh and India, with their combined production accounting for more than 40 per cent of the total reported global production.

Inland capture fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region are, undoubtedly, among the most important fisheries of the world and are feeding and employing millions of people in rural and riparian areas throughout eastern, southeastern and southern Asia. The massive, dispersed nature of many inland fisheries activities has challenged systems of information and data collection ever since as early as the 1700s.

From the reported data, there is an apparent increasing trend in the production of global and regional inland fisheries during the period 1950-2007. However, it is not clear, when viewing aggregated statistics, whether this is due to an aggregated increase in production from all countries’ inland fisheries, or due to large, occasional increases from individual countries. Moreover, there are many instances of unreported (or under-reported) catch in inland fisheries owing to the diffuse and small-scale nature of individual fisheries. But it is becoming less accepted that inland fisheries can continue to increase their yield or sustain yields in the face of mounting fishing pressure, as there is a trend to fish down the fish assemblage and drive the fishery towards smaller, faster-recruiting species that feed at lower trophic levels.

There could be a number of reasons for reports of increase in fish production. The stocking or enhancement of inland fisheries can significantly increase their productivity, leading to reports of increasing production. Some of the highly managed culture-based fisheries are also often reported as capture fisheries, while these should be reported as aquaculture.

The multi-stakeholder issues surrounding freshwater use (for power, irrigation, domestic consumption, leisure) also mean that fisheries services may not be valued highly and, as a consequence, little effort and resources have been allocated to information gathering in, and management of, inland fisheries. Often, the occasional fishing catches and catches from recreational fishing are not included in the statistics. Most often catches classified as “freshwater fishes not elsewhere included exceeded 50 per cent of the global catch, as seen in 2006, and 74 per cent in the case of Asia and the Pacific region. Thus, it is important to understand the various complex drivers andcountry- and fishery-specific contexts behind the inland capture fisheries production, while keeping in mind that this sector contributes a great extent towards livelihood and food security. Hence, it is important to take a holistic view of inland fisheries management (that is, ecosystem approaches).

Source: An Analysis of Historical National Reports of Inland Capture Fishery Statistics in the Asia-Pacific Region (1950-2007) by David Lymer and Simon Funge-Smith. FAO. RAP PUBLICATION 2009/18


Women Fish Vendors in India: An Information Booklet

Women fishworkers in India play critical roles in fisheries and fishing communities, which are not recognized or supported. Women are particularly active in post-harvest fisheries. They contribute in significant ways to the food security needs of a diverse range of consumers. What are the problems women fish vendors face on a regular basis? How have women organized themselves to deal with these problems? What are some of the initiatives, governmental and non-governmental, that have been taken to support women fishworkers? What are the various policy spaces available that women can use to seek greater recognition of their work and their livelihoods within the fisheries? These are some of the issues that this booklet attempts to explore.

Section One provides information on fish vending and vendors, the problems faced by women fish vendors, and some of the organizational initiatives they have taken to protect their livelihoods. Section Two is divided into three parts. The first compiles post-harvest, fisheries-specific schemes and initiatives undertaken by Central and State Fisheries Departments, as well as by central research institutions and intergovernmental organizations. The second part examines the provisions of the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors and its implications for fish vendors. The third part analyzes the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008, from the perspective of fish vendors.


Sharing the Ocean: Stories of Science, Politics and Ownership from America’s Oldest Industry

By Michael Crocker. Photographs by Rebecca Hale. Tilbury House, Publishers, and Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Maine, US. Pbk. 134 pp. 2008.

This book explores how an ide0logy shared by officials at the United States National Marine Fisheries Service and mainstream environmentalists has paradoxically sustained the ecological crisis and led to an unjust distribution of access to the fishery. A major goal of the book is to demonstrate how deeply the fisheries crisis and, indeed, most natural resource dilemmas, are influenced by competing social values. Using a collaborative change approach, the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) has worked with fishermen, environmentalists and policymakers to come up with a shared vision for the future.


Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.

Ovid (Roman poet, 43 BC – 17 AD)


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


Resisting Coastal Invasion : Documentary by K P Sasi. 52 min

A documentary on the proposed changes in coastal laws in India. The move is to change the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification to a Coastal Management Zone Notification. These changes are likely to open up the coast to various hazardous industries, tourism and sand mining, including mining inside the sea. The coastal ecology and the lives of fishing communities are threatened. India’s fishing communities are resisting the move since their livelihoods and existence are threatened.

Farmed Salmon Exposed : Documentary by Damien Gillis

Produced for the NGO, Pure Salmon, this documentary reveals the issues plaguing the industrial aquaculture of the carnivorous species of salmon, and features testimonials by witnesses discussing the environmental and socioeconomic damage of salmon farming, including on Southern countries’ fishing communities and fish stocks, caused by poorly managed fish farms.


To Draw the Line: A Report about EU Fisheries Agreements in West Africa

Fisheries partnership agreements enable the Europesn Union (EU) to buy fishing rights from other countries, not least in West Africa. As part of these so-called partnerships, the EU is meant to contribute to sustainable development in the contracting State. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) has interviewed fishworkers, civil servants and government representatives in west Africa and in Europe. They found that this aspect of partnership is an illusion. Funds do not reach the intended purposes, fish stocks are decreasing and the lives of fishworkers in contracting States are harder than ever. The European Commission acknowledges these failures, in which Sweden is complicit, and encourages all stakeholders to contribute actively to the development of a reformed fisheries policy for 2012. This report describes how responsible partnership could be achieved.

Report of the Global Conference on Small-Scale Fisheries: Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries: Bringing Together Responsible Fisheries and Social Development. Bangkok, Thailand, 13-17 Oct, 2008. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Report No.911. Rome, 2009, 202 pp.

This report provides a summary of the presentations, panel statements and working group discussions of the 2008 Bangkok Global Conference on Small-scale Fisheries. The conference identified several critical ways forward in securing sustainable small-scale fisheries that integrate social, cultural and economic development, address resource-access and use-rights issues, guided by human-rights principles, and recognize the rights of indigenous peoples.


A holistic and coherent strategy

With at least 300,000 people from 11 countries in the Indian Ocean region dead, or still missing and presumed dead, the tsunami of 26 December 2004 counts as among the worst natural disasters in recent history. Apart from the loss of life, damages to houses, fishing vessels, agriculture lands, equipment and infrastructure, have been high, estimated to exceed US$13.5 bn. Coastal fishing communities, among the most vulnerable sections of society, were particularly affected. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that a quarter of all fatalities were from fishing communities.

The local, national and international responses to the disaster have been tremendous. Particularly heartening has been the massive mobilization of local and in-country resources and volunteers in the post-tsunami period, especially in the relief phase. Aid and promises for further aid have also come from the international community. It is to be hoped that these promises are kept.

It is as important that the aid received be channeled in ways that actually improve the quality of life of the affected communities in the long term. Declarations and statements that have come out of regional and international processes involving peasant and fishworker organizations and NGOs in the post-tsunami phase, lay out key principles and strategies for rehabilitation of fisheries and agriculture-based livelihoods. At a very fundamental level, the participation of affected communities, particularly of vulnerable groups among them, in the design and implementation of rehabilitation initiatives, must be ensured.

From a fisheries perspective, it would be imperative to ensure that rehabilitation initiatives do not lead to an overall increase in fishing capacity. This continues to be a real danger, especially where co-ordination of aid is weak, and where there are no clear policy frameworks for delivery of aid. Well-intentioned aid may just end up increasing the vulnerability of livelihoods in the long term.

The matter of replacing damaged fishing units should also be approached with caution, particularly where their operations were leading to social conflicts and overfishing in the pre-tsunami period. In many cases, the operations of such vessels were economically unviable, to begin with.

From Comment in SAMUDRA Report No. 40, March 2005



30th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation of the International Sea Turtle Society, Goa, India, 27-29 April 2010

The 13th annual symposium on sea turtle biology and conservation seeks to explore the world of turtles and the connections and focus on the world they live in. The symposium will also host a special fisheries forum to focus on various dimensions of the interaction between fisheries and sea turtle conservation and research.

Global Conference on Aquaculture, 9-12 June 2010

Ten years after the millennium conference, with aquaculture now providing nearly 50 per cent of global food fish supplies, FAO, in partnership with NACA and the Thai Department of Fisheries, is organizing the Global Conference on Aquaculture 2010, to evaluate where the sector stands today and how to face the challenges and opportunities. The conference will provide a global forum to build consensus to advance sustainable aquaculture development and contribute to the Millennium Development Goals.

Review Conference of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, New York, US, 24-28 May 2010


Seychelles hook-and-line fishermen’s association

To promote responsible fishing techniques and resource sustainability, the Seychelles hook-and-line fishermen have launched a Label Programme. In partnership with the Seychelles Fishing Authority and the Seychelles Bureau of Standard, a code of conduct, which includes standards criteria, has been established.