West Africa’s falling fish stocks

Average fish catches by traditional fishing communities along the west African coast have declined significantly over the past three decades. Along the Gulf of Guinea, stretching from Côte d’Ivoire to Nigeria, fishers launch their wooden canoes from the beach to catch small pelagic fish, like sardines and anchovies, which they sell into local informal markets to make a living. They have done this for generations, but since the 1990s, a decline in the catch has put their livelihoods at risk.

In Ghana, total landings of small pelagic fish fell by 59 per cent between 1993 and 2019, despite increased fishing efforts. Landings of Sardinella aurita, a favoured species, declined from 119,000 tonnes in 1992 to just 11,834 tonnes in 2019. Côte d’Ivoire has experienced a parallel fisheries decline, with its catch plummeting nearly 40 per cent between 2003 and 2020.

The continuing decline in fish catches has serious implications for some of the poorest families in the region. Ghana, for example, has more than 200,000 active fishers. More than 2 mn others along the value chain, including thousands of women who process and sell fish at markets along the coast, are now at risk as well. Already living at or below the international poverty line (US $2.15 per person per day), these communities now face further income loss. In essence, they are falling deeper into poverty.

In west Africa there are now seven times as many canoes engaged in ocean fishing as there were in 1950. Today’s canoes have larger nets and bigger crews, and many have powerful outboard engines.

Report shows dire state of Mekong’s fish — but damage can still be undone

The threatened fish of the Mekong River are inching closer to extinction, according to a new report that cites piling pressures on the waterway. Though the situation is serious, conservationists say it’s not too late to turn the tide for the river’s freshwater species.
The nearly 5,000-km (3,000-mile) Mekong supports millions of people across six countries, from its headwaters in China to its delta in Vietnam. The river, a key vein in mainland Southeast Asia, faces a rising tide of threats, from unsustainable fishing and invasive species, to hydropower dams and sand mining, all compounded by climate change.

Nearly a fifth of the known fish species in the river are threatened to some degree with extinction, according to a recently release report, “The Mekong’s Forgotten Fishes”. The report was compiled by 25 organizations, including conservation NGOs WWF and Conservation International, and the IUCN, the global wildlife conservation authority, which is responsible for the Red List of Threatened Species.

The report determined that at least 19 per cent of species are threatened with extinction. It calls for a global “Emergency Recovery Plan” for freshwater biodiversity to be implemented in the Mekong, with an emphasis on letting the river and its tributaries flow more naturally, improving water quality, protecting and restoring critical habitats and species, and curbing unsustainable resource extraction.

Despite the threats, the report notes conservation bright spots, including the discovery of new species, and emphasizes that it is not too late to protect the river, its fish and the millions of people who depend on it.



Kesatuan Nelayan Tradisional Indonesia (KNTI)

The Indonesian Traditional Fisherfolk Union

To achieve the goals of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, which is independent, just, prosperous, and sustainable as stated in Pancasila and the constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, on 15 May 2009 the Indonesian Traditional Fisherfolks Union (KNTI) was established in Manado, North Sulawesi Province. This establishment is a form of awareness and determination of at least 100 fisherfolk leaders from several regions in the country to hold the Indonesian Traditional Fisherfolks Congress at the same location. KNTI is a mass-based organization of traditional fisherfolk, fish and seaweed aquaculture, salt farmers and fisheries and marine product processors; it has a structure from the national to the regional level.

KNTI is a forum for the struggle to meet the living needs and future interests of traditional Indonesian fisherfolk. Fighting for the fate of traditional fisherfolk whose rights to life and livelihood have been displaced or threatened. Building independent economic strength among traditional fisherfolk, strengthening the knowledge and direct action of traditional fisherfolk in preserving the marine and coastal environment. Taking strategic steps to ensure the fulfilment of basic rights such as the right to education, health, and housing for fishing families. The right to obtain protection for land and water areas, as well as the right to obtain welfare and strengthen the role and position of fisherwomen.

By 2024, the KNTI management structure is spread across 68 districts/cities; more than 100,000 members; 20 co-operatives; managing seven mangrove conservation areas; five aquaculture centres; four coastal children’s reading houses; two community-based tourism programmes; as well as economic development initiatives for fishermen and fisherwomen in several region.

The union’s objectives are: Fight for all matters relating to the livelihood and future interests of Indonesian traditional fisherfolk, with the aim of: one, creating an organized, educated and independent traditional fisherfolk’s organization; two, realizing a sovereign, prosperous and cultural livelihood of traditional fisherfolk; and, three, realizing fair and sustainable management of marine and fisheries resources.

The union has a management structure at the national to sub-district/village levels. It also has an autonomous body whose function is to implement KNTI policies relating to women and youth, namely: Indonesian Coastal Women’s Association (KPPI); and Indonesian Youth and Coastal Student Union (KPPMPI).
KNTI advocacy if on the following matters: one, protection of over-fishing areas for traditional and small-scale fishers and access to production factors, along with the strengthening social protection; two, increasing critical knowledge and awareness of fisherfolk regarding their rights; three, protection of healthy and sustainable marine and coastal environments; four, building the economic independence of fishing families by improving the fisheries business ecosystem from upstream to downstream.

Facebook: Dpp Knti
Instagram: nelayan_bersatu
Twitter: DPPKNTI
YouTube: DPP KNTI Nelayan

SOFIA 2024

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2024

Key Messages

World fisheries and aquaculture production hit a new high in 2022. Successful initiatives should be upscaled to consolidate the vital role of aquatic foods for global food security, nutrition and livelihoods.

  • Global fisheries and aquaculture production surged to 223.2 mn tonnes, with 185.4 mn tonnes of aquatic animals and 37.8 mn tonnes of algae.
  • Of the total aquatic animal production, 89 per cent was used for human consumption, equivalent to an estimated 20.7 kg per capita in 2022. The rest went on non-food uses, mostly fishmeal and fish oil.
  • An estimated 61.8 mn people were employed in the primary production sector, mostly in small-scale operations. Sex-disaggregated data indicate that 24 per cent of fishers and fish farmers were women compared with 62 per cent in the post-harvest sector.
  • Over 230 countries and territories were involved in the international trade of aquatic products, reaching a record value of USD 195 bn – a 19 per cent increase from pre- pandemic levels in 2019.
  • In low- and middle-income countries, the total net trade (exports minus imports) of aquatic animal products reached USD 45 bn – greater than that of all other agricultural products combined.
  • Further transformative and adaptive actions are needed to strengthen the resilience of aquatic food systems and consolidate their role in addressing hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Aquaculture can meet the rising global demand for aquatic foods. Future expansion must prioritize sustainability and benefit regions and communities most in need.

  • In 2022, global aquaculture production reached 130.9 mn tonnes, valued at USD 312.8 bn, 59 per cent of global fisheries and aquaculture production.
  • Inland aquaculture contributed 62.6 per cent of farmed aquatic animals, marine and coastal aquaculture 37.4 per cent.
  • For the first time, aquaculture surpassed capture fisheries in aquatic animal production with 94.4 mn tonnes, representing 51 per cent of the world total and a record 57 per cent of the production destined for human consumption.
  • Aquaculture remains dominated by a small number of countries, with many low-income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean not exploiting their full potential.
  • Out of some 730 farmed species items, 17 staple species represent about 60 per cent of global aquaculture production, while other species are important at local level.
  • Targeted policies, technology transfer, capacity building and responsible investment are crucial to boost sustainable aquaculture where it is most needed, in particular in Africa.

Global capture fisheries production remains stable, but sustainability of fishery resources is a cause for concern. Urgent action is needed to accelerate fishery stock conservation and rebuilding.

  • Global capture fisheries production of aquatic animals has fluctuated between 86 and 94 mn tonnes per year since the late 1980s.
  • In 2022, the sector produced 92.3 mn tonnes, valued at about USD 159 bn and comprising 91.0 mn tonnes of aquatic animals – 79.7 mn tonnes caught in marine areas and 11.3 mn tonnes in inland waters – in addition to 1.3 mn tonnes of algae. With a share of 43 per cent, marine capture fisheries remain the major source of global aquatic animal production.
  • The fraction of marine stocks fished within biologically sustainable levels decreased to 62.3 per cent in 2021, 2.3 per cent lower than in 2019.
  • When weighted by their production level, an estimated 76.9 per cent of the 2021 landings were from biologically sustainable stocks. Effective fisheries management leads to stock recovery, and urgent action is needed to replicate successful policies and reverse declining sustainability trends.

Global demand for aquatic foods is projected to increase further. Expansion of sustainable production is vital to ensure healthy diets from healthy oceans, lakes and rivers.

  • In 2022, global apparent consumption of aquatic animal foods reached an estimated 165 mn tonnes, increasing at nearly twice the annual rate of the world population since 1961.
  • Global annual per capita apparent consumption of aquatic animal foods rose from 9.1 kg in 1961 to an estimated 20.7 kg in 2022.
  • Aquatic animal foods provide high-quality proteins – 15 per cent of animal proteins and 6 per cent of total proteins worldwide – and key nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamins.
  • The potential of aquatic foods to contribute to food security, nutrition and poverty reduction is increasingly recognized in major global fora such as the UN Food Systems Summit and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • Efforts must continue to promote aquatic foods for healthy diets from healthy oceans, lakes and rivers.

Aquatic animal production is expected to increase by 10 per cent by 2032. The Blue Transformation Roadmap aims to ensure sustainable fisheries and aquaculture growth while promoting equitable benefits and environmental conservation.

  • Aquatic animal production is expected to increase by 10 per cent by 2032, driven by aquaculture expansion and capture fisheries recovery. It will reach 205 mn tonnes – 111 mn tonnes from aquaculture and 94 mn tonnes from fisheries.
  • Up to 90 per cent will be destined for human consumption, at a rate of about 21.3 kg per capita.
  • Consumption per capita is expected to grow in all continents, but will likely decline in Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, where many people rely on aquatic foods for nutrition.
  • Exports of aquatic animal products will grow, involving 34 per cent of the total production in 2032, down from 38 per cent in 2022.
  • The FAO Blue Transformation Roadmap paves the way for sustainable growth, promoting equitable benefits and reversing environmental degradation.

Small-scale fisheries are a vital source of nutrition and livelihoods for millions of people. Greater global recognition and action are needed to support and empower these communities.

  • Small-scale fisheries contribute an estimated 40 per cent of the global catch and support 90 per cent of the capture fisheries workforce, with women representing 40 per cent of all those engaged in the aquatic value chain.
  • Some 500 mn people rely on small-scale fisheries for their livelihoods, including 53 mn involved in subsistence fishing – 45 per cent of whom are women.
  • The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries were endorsed a decade ago, yet the vital role of small-scale fisheries is not sufficiently recognized.
  • Enhancing the recognition and governance of small-scale fisheries through co-management approaches remains crucial to secure sustainable exploitation, equitable socioeconomic development and equal opportunities for all.
    Source: 4b066de59030/content


Publications and Infographics

ICSF’s Studies on Social Development and Sustainable Fisheries

ICSF conducted a series of studies on “Social Development and Sustainable Fisheries” in eight countries to examine how social development of small-scale fishing communities contributes to responsible and sustainable small-scale fisheries. The countries studied were: Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, Ghana, The Philippines, Bangladesh, Brazil, Thailand and India (specifically, the States of Kerala/Tamil Nadu and West Bengal).

International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) workshop reports
The Asia workshop was the first of the series of four regional workshops organized by ICSF in connection with the proclamation of 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) by the United Nations, and it was followed up by workshops in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa and Europe. The workshops, which featured over 200 participants from 52 countries, revolved around discussions on the SSF Guidelines implementation and monitoring, and specifically focused on the themes of tenure rights, social development and gender and women in fisheries.
Asia Report: English
Africa Report: English and French
Latin America and the Caribbean Report: English, Spanish and Portuguese
Europe Report: English and Spanish


ICSF Workshops in the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) by ICSF, 2024 (17 mts.)

IYAFA 2022: Small-Scale Fisheries Summit Report, 2-4 September 2022, Città dell’Altra Economia, Rome, Italy. FAO, 2022

IYAFA 2022: Small-Scale Fisheries Summit Report, 2-4 September 2022, Città dell’Altra Economia, Rome, Italy by FAO, 2022

The main purpose of the Small-Scale Fisheries Summit was to create a true opportunity to promote dialogue among small-scale fishers and fishworkers, key partners and decisionmakers in advance of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) 35th Session on 5-9 September 2022 in Rome, Italy


Now Walk the Talk

The tenth of June ought to be celebrated as “World Small-scale Fisheries Day” since it was on this historic day in 2014 that the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) formally endorsed the International Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). In adopting the Guidelines, COFI also honoured Chandrika Sharma, former Executive Secretary of ICSF, for her invaluable contributions to small-scale fisheries.

By adopting these Guidelines, the international community has lent its weight to the struggles of fishers, fishworkers and their communities in the small-scale sector, as well as to Indigenous Peoples worldwide to defend their right to secure life and livelihood from fisheries-related activities, both marine and inland.

The adoption of the Guidelines marks an expression of support to a politically and economically marginalized people, beleaguered by, among other things, pollution, displacement, conflicts over space and resources and climate-change impacts, and poor access to education, health and housing facilities.

The Guidelines represent the first formal attempt to talk in the same breath about equitable development of fishing communities and sustainable small-scale fisheries. They recognize small-scale fishing communities as a subsector that demands multisectoral and multistakeholder solutions. The Guidelines are couched in the language of a ‘rights- based approach’, where human rights take priority over property rights. Developed in an inclusive, ground-up and participatory manner, the Guidelines weave together international human-rights standards and soft and hard legal instruments that deal with fisheries, labour, women and gender, land, food, nutrition, ecosystem, trade and climate change.

They deal substantially with most of the concerns of small-scale, rural and indigenous communities worldwide, as articulated through a raft of workshops of civil society organizations (CSOs), held in Africa, Asia, Central and Latin America since 2011, in preparation for the FAO technical consultations in May 2013 and February 2014.

The Guidelines will now have to move into the implementation mode. In this context, firstly, they should be made relevant for all vulnerable and marginalized groups who depend on small-scale fisheries. The time has now come to walk the talk!

– from SAMUDRA Report, No. 68, August 2014



2nd Small-Scale Fisheries Summit (SSF Summit 2024), Rome, Italy, 5-7 July 2024

Committee on Fisheries, COFI36 Thirty-sixth session, 8-12 July 2024, FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy

Sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 21 October–1 November 2024 – Cali, Colombia


2nd SSF Summit

2nd Small-Scale Fisheries Summit (SSF Summit 2024), FAO, Rome, Italy

2nd SSF Summit site provides detailed information about the current status of the SSF Guidelines implementation at the national, regional and global level to inform future actions.

The SSF Hub is an online, interactive, and multilingual platform for small-scale fishers, fishworkers and their allies to share knowledge and collaborate.