Fisheries Legislation

Peru amends law to strengthen fisheries protection in 5-nautical mile zone

On 12 April 2023, Peru’s National Congress approved some amendments to the 1992 General Fisheries Law, which have important implications for fisheries management and conservation within the 5-mile zone, especially for the activities of Peru’s artisanal fisheries for which this zone is reserved.

Fisheries productivity in Peru is very high. With almost 3,300 km of coastline along the eastern South Pacific – the location of the Humboldt Current and the associated large upwelling system – Peru ranks among the top five countries with the largest fish catches in the world. All these catches are taken within the waters under its jurisdiction, within its 200-miles exclusive economic zone.

Peru also has important artisanal fisheries, with a wide diversity of fishing activities, and employs the largest number of people engaged in fishing and related activities. Such activities provide 80 per cent of employment in fishing and more than half of the income generated by all Peruvian fishing activities. It is one thing to describe the Peruvian fishery in terms of tonnes caught, but quite another to account for the employment, income and food it provides by itself, as well as by activities that depend on it.

The first five nautical miles are recognized as an area of great importance for the reproduction and breeding of multiple coastal species, and, for this reason, since the beginning of the 1990s, it has been an area where the fishing activities of the industrial fleets (the most numerous being the purse-seine fleet, which catches anchovy for fishmeal, and a small trawler fleet that catches hake for frozen export) have been restricted.

The General Fisheries Law, enacted in 1992, needs to be updated, and this is a process that fishers’ organizations and Peruvian civil society have been pushing for several years and which has been responded to in recent months in the Congress of the Republic.

Although it was not possible to approve a text that completely updates the law, on 12 April the plenary of the Congress approved some amendments to the law…

SAMUDRA EXCLUSIVE: Peru moves to strengthen fisheries protection in the 5-nautical mile zone through amended law  


‘Floating toilets’ help Cambodia’s lake-dwelling poor

Pointing to the murky waters of the Tonle Sap, Si Vorn fights back tears as she recalls her four- year-old daughter dying from diarrhoea after playing in the polluted lake.

Her family of 12 is among 100,000 people living in floating houses on Cambodia’s vast inland waterway, and while their village has 70 houses and a primary school, it has no sanitation system.

Now a local social enterprise, Wetlands Work (WW), is trying to tackle the problem by rolling out “floating toilets” to filter waste, but the high cost of installation means for now they are available to only a lucky few.

For generations, villagers whose livelihood depends on fishing have defecated directly into the water that they use for cooking, washing and bathing — risking diarrhoea and even more severe water-borne diseases such as cholera.

“We use this water, we drink this water, and we defecate into this water. Everything!” Si Vorn, 52, told AFP, saying her family fell ill all the time.

“Every day, I worry about my health. Look at the water, there is no sanitation. I’m so worried but I don’t know what to do.”

More than a million people live on or around Tonle Sap, the world’s largest inland fishery, but there is no system in place for managing human waste from the 20,000 floating houses around the lake.

Cambodia, ravaged by war and the genocidal Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia.

Around a third of the population does not have access to proper toilets, according to the WaterAid charity, and diarrhoea is a leading killer of children under five.

Wetlands Work hopes its HandyPods, as the floating toilets are properly known, can help Si Vorn’s village and others like it in other countries…

‘Floating toilets’ help Cambodia’s lake-dwelling poor



Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC)

The Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC) was founded in 1984 as an association to represent artisanal fishers in Ghana. Currently, the it is the lead stakeholder in the artisanal industry, representing the vast majority of artisanal fishers. The council’s operation permeates the four coastal regions in Ghana, with a membership of 100,000 fishers.

Fishermen in the artisanal fishing industry of Ghana have recognized the emerging challenges posed by multiple users of Ghana’s marine space due to the increasing impoverishment in coastal fishing communities, and food and livelihood insecurity. Their role in safeguarding a sustainable artisanal fishing industry, the need for transparency and accountability in Ghana’s fisheries sector and the overall socio-economic empowerment of artisanal fishers necessitated the formation of GNCFC to contribute to an improved governance of responsible and sustainable fisheries in the western African nation.

Over the years, the council has collaborated with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and the Fisheries Commission. With the support of development projects and local NGOs/CSOs, it has successfully implemented various key fisheries management activities, specifically in the areas of effort reduction, strengthening enforcement, empowering economic livelihood and building capacity.

Specifically, the GNCFC has contributed immensely to the successful implementation of closed seasons for artisanal fishers, registration of artisanal canoes, development and issuance of canoe identification cards for canoe owners, and formation of beach landing enforcement committees to assist in enforcement and compliance. The GNCFC has also contributed immensely to transforming fishing societies, especially in coastal communities, through community empowerment and integrated development initiatives.

The GNCFC has established networks with both international and local fisheries organizations and associations. Some of these organizations include: CAOPA, Coastal Resource Centre, University of Rhode Island, Centre for Coastal Management, University of Cape Coast, USAID/Ghana Fisheries Recovery Activity Project, Hen Mpoano, Friends of the Nation and Environmental Justice Foundation, among others.

Contact details:
Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council,
NAFAG building, Tema-Ghana.
Mobile: +233244381230 / +233548173691.
Twitter: @GhanaCanoe



Act for transformational change: The IHH study findings

By collating and analyzing the best evidence available, the Illuminating Hidden Harvests (IHH) study sets out to demonstrate the importance of supporting small-scale fisheries to fully realize their contributions to sustainable development. The key findings, embracing harvesting and production, livelihoods and economic value, gender, governance, nutrition and other important features and properties, are discussed further to indicate actions that can be taken.

Harvesting aquatic foods

Small-scale fisheries are a significant component of global capture fisheries, reaching around 40 per cent of global production. According to the IHH study, the subsector contributes an estimated 36.9 mn tonnes of catch, corresponding to around one-third of global marine catch and nearly the entire inland catch. While these numbers alone are already significant, it should be remembered that they have almost certainly been underestimated, particularly on the inland fisheries side, due to the limited information available for subsistence and smaller- scale fisheries in more remote areas.

The findings of the IHH study highlight the importance of small-scale fisheries to global fisheries production. Although production varies across regions and national economic classifications, it can be quite significant in some areas: for example, a large majority (83 per cent) of total capture production in least developed countries comes from small-scale fisheries. With reference to species composition, small pelagics and tuna, bonito and billfish are highly represented in marine small-scale fisheries catch, and, likewise, cyprinids and tilapia for inland catch.

The environmental interactions of small-scale fisheries vary according to the nature of each fishery, with some having among the lowest footprints across all types of food production. These interactions depend on various factors: for example, gear type, intensity of fishing operation, and the particular environment in which the fisheries operate. Coupled with local and global environmental changes (including climate change) that are imposing unprecedented challenges at a broad scale, these interactions have consequences for future small-scale fisheries catches and production systems, and the benefits that these create. While small-scale fisheries could, by definition, have a lower impact on the environment than large-scale fisheries, there is not sufficient evidence to conclude what their aggregate impact is.

The pressures and drivers, both cumulative and in isolation, need to be understood if they are to be remedied, mitigated or adapted to. At the same time as the environmental interactions of small-scale fisheries need to be understood and considered, the food security and nutrition and livelihood roles of small-scale fisheries need to be acknowledged in environmental and biodiversity conservation policies so that the trade-offs between environmental, social and economic goals, especially in situations of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition, can be identified and included in related policies.

While the reported volumes of small-scale fisheries catch are significant in themselves for better understanding the overall importance of the subsector, there is also great value in understanding how this information is incorporated in policies, strategies and decisions relating to fisheries governance, food systems, livelihoods and poverty eradication. Understanding catch volume and species composition at appropriate scales is also critical for effective fisheries management. In combination with qualitative information gathered from fishers, processors and managers (among others), data on catch and species trends can be used in quantitative or qualitative approaches to assess the state of fish stocks. This information is important to the implementation of adaptive management measures to ensure biological sustainability, in line with SDG Target 14.4 (i.e. “effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing”). Moreover, additional data on fishing effort, fleet characteristics and gear types, as well as information on market trends and climate change, are essential in reducing uncertainties and improving the assessment and management of small-scale fisheries.

The use of a range of information from different sources is also in line with the SSF Guidelines, which recognize the importance of sustainable resource management and adopting measures for long-term sustainable use of fishery resources and securing the ecological foundation for food production. Appropriate management systems should be implemented, taking into account the particular requirements and opportunities presented by small-scale fisheries (paragraph 5.13). For this, the SSF Guidelines also recognize the need for governments to “establish systems of collecting fisheries data, including bioecological, social, cultural and economic data relevant for decision-making on sustainable management of small-scale fisheries” (paragraph 11.1).

As small-scale fisheries often target and harvest species that are also exploited by large-scale fisheries, information on catch provenance and composition and the functioning of production systems is needed not only to inform management and governance of the small-scale subsector but also to establish where these fisheries fit within broader fisheries-management frameworks. This knowledge has implications for overarching decisions on fisheries sustainability and ecosystem effects at all scales. If data on small-scale fisheries catch are missing or inadequate, there can be significant ramifications for fisheries management that also affect the large-scale subsector. This widespread problem can be seen, for example, in small-scale tuna fisheries, whose activities and harvests have implications for stock assessments and harvest quotas. Some regional fisheries management organizations and stakeholders acknowledge that they require far more detailed information on small-scale fisheries catch to effectively manage some, or all, the species for which they have competence. Thus, filling this data and information gap would allow for improved monitoring and management of these resources across the harvesting segment of the value chain.

Source: Illuminating Hidden Harvests: The contributions of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development



Publications and Infographics

Social Development and Sustainable Fisheries Series by ICSF

All ICSF Publications and Films

This publication details the series of studies on ‘Social Development and Sustainable Fisheries’ conducted by ICSF in ight countries to examine how social development of small-scale fishing communities contributes to responsible and sustainable small-scale fisheries. The following countries were studied: Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, Ghana, The Philippines, Bangladesh, Brazil, Thailand and India (Kerala/Tamil Nadu and West Bengal)

Report of the Workshop on Sea Safety and Fisheries Management: Training and Capacity Development of Local Self-Governments, 01–02 March 2023, Thrissur, Kerala

Report of the Workshop on Sea Safety and Fisheries Management: Training and Capacity Development of Local Self-Governments, 01–02 March 2023, Thrissur, Kerala Report prepared by A.J. Vijayan

This report on the two-day workshop organized to enhance the capacity of representatives of local self-government institutions, saw participation from officers of the Department of Fisheries, Kerala, and representatives from fishworker organizations, civil society organizations (CSOs) and community-based organizations. The publication is also available in Malayalam

MEL4SSF Piloting Philippines by Ronald B. Rodriguez

MEL4SSF Piloting Philippines: Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Framework in support of the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication by Ronald B. Rodriguez and ICSF

MEL4SSF took into consideration the Philippines governance context, characterized by a more decentralized and devolved governance structure. The piloting process uncovered possible impacts and opportunities on the implementation of the SSF Guidelines initiatives, as well as in monitoring and evaluating initiatives under the SSF Guidelines.

MEL4SSF Piloting Ghana by Peter Linford Adjei

MEL4SSF Piloting Ghana: Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Framework in support of the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication by Peter Linford Adjei and ICSF

This report details a pilot of the MEL4SSF in Ghana in which 42 officials and SSF leaders were interviewed, 13 focus group discussions (FGDs) with 227 participants conducted, and over 20 major legislative and policy documents reviewed.

Report on Latin American and Caribbean Workshop – IYAFA 2022: Celebrating Sustainable and Equitable Small-scale Fisheries, 2-5 November 2022, Brazil

Report on Latin American and Caribbean Workshop – IYAFA 2022: Celebrating Sustainable and Equitable Small-scale Fisheries, 2-5 November 2022, Brazil Report prepared by Ligia M. Rocha, Sivaja K Nair and Janani Ganesan

The Latin American and Caribbean workshop was the second of the series of four regional workshops planned by ICSF in connection with the proclamation of 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) by the United Nations. This publication is also available in Spanish and Portuguse

Report on National Training of Trainers (TOT) Workshop on the SSF Guidelines (Marine Fisheries) October 13-15, 2022, Asha Nivas Social Service Centre, Chennai, India

Report on National Training of Trainers (TOT) Workshop on the SSF Guidelines (Marine Fisheries) October 13-15, 2022, Asha Nivas Social Service Centre, Chennai, India by Ahana Lakshmi and Nivedita Shridhar

The three-day workshop was organized with an aim to enhance the capacity of fishworker organizations, CSOs and community-based organizations to engage with the SSF Guidelines to negotiate issues of concern in regard to policy, legislation, lives and livelihoods of the SSF communities.

Baffling Shades of Blue: Addressing the Impacts of the Blue Economy on Small-scale Fisheries in Latin America

Baffling Shades of Blue: Addressing the impacts of the Blue Economy on small-scale fisheries in Latin America by Leopoldo Cavaleri Gerhardinger et al.

This report draws on scholarship from the trenches and research centres across 10 Latin American countries. Based on extensive interviews, policy reviews, and analyses of finances and online datasets, it examines, in detail, how ‘Blue Growth’ affects artisanal fishers and their need for equity and justice.



Small scale, large agenda

The 25th Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO) was held from 24 to 28 February 2003 at Rome. Notably, one of the agenda items was on ‘Strategies for Increasing the Sustainable Contribution of Small-scale Fisheries to Food Security and Poverty Alleviation’. The last time small-scale fisheries was on the agenda of COFI was 20 years ago, in 1983, in the lead-up to the FAO World Conference on Fisheries Management and Development in 1984.

The inclusion of this agenda item was particularly appropriate, given the recently organized World Food Summit and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, both of which focused on the importance of eradicating hunger and poverty. It was also appropriate in view of the process being initiated by the FAO to develop “voluntary guidelines to achieve the progressive realization of the right to adequate food”, as a follow-up to the World Food Summit.

The inclusion of this agenda item once again reaffirmed the important role small-scale fisheries plays, especially in the developing world, in providing income, employment and in contributing to food security.

What was needed, however, was a much stronger endorsement that the small-scale model of fisheries development is inherently more suitable, even on grounds of environmental sustainability, a key issue of concern today. In this context, it is worth recalling the observation made in the report of a joint study by the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, Commission of the European Communities and FAO in 1992, titled A Study of International Fisheries Research: “…in many situations, the comparative advantages may lie with the small-scale sector. It is labour intensive, consumes less fuel, generally uses more selective gear, and is less dependent on imported equipment and materials. The small-scale sector’s capital is owned locally, often by the fishers themselves. And because the small-scale fishers depend on resources adjacent to their communities, they have a greater self-interest than large-scale fishers in management of their fisheries.”

With many fisheries the world over showing evident signs of overfishing, the imperative is to create a policy environment supportive of small-scale fisheries using selective gear. One of the most crucial prerequisites for this, as mentioned in the paper prepared by the FAO Secretariat for this agenda item, is the need for “better management through the allocation of secure fishing rights—backed by appropriate legislation—to small-scale fishers in coastal and inland zones and their effective protection from industrial fishing activity or activities that degrade aquatic resources and habitats."

Moreover, in view of the increasing technological capacity of the small-scale fleet to harvest resources in deeper waters, as well as the greater pressure on inshore resources, it is appropriate that governments extend the areas reserved for exclusive exploitation by the small-scale fleet within their exclusive economic zones (EEZs). This will also, in no small measure, contribute to increasing safety at sea, as many accidents result from both the industrial and small-scale fleets using the same marine space. Many small-scale fishworkers have lost their craft and gear, and even their lives, as a result of accidents involving industrial fleets.

A clear recognition of the inherent superiority of the small-scale model of fisheries development and a reallocation of resources in favour of small-scale fisheries, is the need of the hour. Given that it is State policies that have supported industrial fisheries, often at the expense of both small-scale fisheries and environmental sustainability, and even in areas where small-scale fleets are capable of operating effectively, a reorientation of these policies is urgent.

A vote for small-scale fisheries would be a vote for long-term socioeconomic and environmental benefits over short-term profits, for livelihoods and a dignified existence for many over benefits for a few.

– from SAMUDRA Report No. 34, March 2003




19th Session Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, Bergen, Norway – from 11 to 15 September 2023

Twenty-fifth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, 16 – 20 October 2023, Nairobi, Kenya

European Workshop: IYAFA 2022-Celebrating Sustainable and Equitable Small-scale Fisheries, November, 2023


ICSF Archives/Digital library

ICSF’s Archives/Digital library is a repository of ICSF’s collections of over three decades, built up since ICSF’s Documentation Centre was set up in Chennai, India, in 1999, with the aim of gathering all kinds of information pertinent to small-scale fisheries and making it available to all stakeholders in an easy and rapid-access format. Currently, the digital archive has over 2,000 original documents and more than 12,000 curated links.

The archive’s papers are listed under the following major themes related to fisheries: Aquaculture; Biodiversity; Decent Work; Disasters and Climate Change (including COVID-19); Fisheries Trade; Gender in Fisheries and Aquaculture; Right to Resources (including access rights and tenure); and the SSF Guidelines.