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SSF Guidelines

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Small-scale and artisanal fisheries contribute about half of global fish catches and employ millions of people. They are often rooted in local communities, providing food security and nutrition, reducing poverty. At a time of great environmental crises, small-scale fisheries provide hope. Yet their interests and contributions are often overlooked.

This gap was finally filled in 2014 in a watershed moment: the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) endorsed the ‘Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication’ (SSF Guidelines). It is the only international instrument dedicated to small-scale fisheries. This set of guidelines directs policy, from the local to the international levels, to support and promote the sub-sector.

The SSF Guidelines provide representation to the marginalized. For their secure tenure over fishing resources and space; for decent conditions of work; for the social development of fishing communities; gender equity and equality; for balancing universal human rights while respecting local conditions and traditions.

It resulted from a long-drawn democratic campaign. In the 1980s, small groups of fishers began voicing their concerns about the social and environmental crisis caused by industrial fishing across developing countries. They began collaborating. ICSF resulted from such partnerships.

The Rio declaration of 1992 had recognized the rights of traditional fishers and their contributions. In 1995 FAO adopted the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF). It recognized the contributions of artisanal fisheries, recommending their preferential access to fishing resources. FAO organized its first global conference of small-scale fisheries in Thailand in 2008.

Thereafter, several workshops hosted over 4,000 participants from 120 nations. In 2011, FAO’s Committee on Fisheries (COFI) recommended an international legal instrument to safeguard the rights of small-scale, artisanal fishers. The next two years were a participatory effort to create a consensus and agree on a final text. The SSF Guidelines were endorsed in June, 2014. The challenge now is for all stakeholders to implement the SSF Guidelines.

For more information, visit https://sites.google.com/site/ssfguidelines/home and https://sites.google.com/site/smallscalefisheries/

Current Programmes

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

The SSF Summit 2024 is poised to be a pivotal event that seeks to transform from mere discussions to a collective endeavor, with a common objective: advancing the implementation of the SSF Guidelines. In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines), this 2nd SSF Summit is dedicated to not only acknowledging this milestone, but also assessing the current status of the SSF Guidelines implementation at the national, regional and global level to inform future actions. It will serve as a global platform to collaboratively address governance and development challenges in small-scale fisheries while proposing and sharing solutions to foster and strengthen the implementation of the SSF Guidelines. For more details, please visit: https://www.icsf.net/resources/2nd-small-scale-fisheries-summit-ssf-summit-2024-rome-italy/

Resources

Rallying to Rome: Special People. Collective Processes. A Unique Event by John Kurien, 2024

In 1984, the UN/FAO was holding the World Conference on Fisheries Management and Development (WFC) in Rome. Government representatives and international agencies were attending. But fishers were not invited, their...

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

The SSF Summit 2024 is poised to be a pivotal event that seeks to transform from mere discussions to a collective endeavor, with a common objective: advancing the implementation of...

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

This film is an overview of workshops in four regions: Asia; Africa; Europe; and Latin America and the Caribbean. Held under IYAFA-2022 (the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture),...

Informe de la Taller regional del AIPAA: Encauzar el relato y visualizar un futuro justo para la pesca artesanal en Europa, 13-16 de noviembre de 2023, España Texto preparado por Ahana Lakshmi y Sivaja K. Nair

El taller regional del AIPAA Europa, el último de la serie de talleres organizados por el CIAPA con ocasión del AIPAA, se convocó en colaboración con los pescadores de bajo...

Report of the IYAFA Regional Workshop: Getting the Story Straight and Envisioning a Fair Future for Small-scale Fisheries in Europe, 13-16 November 2023, Galicia, Spain Report prepared by Ahana Lakshmi and Sivaja K Nair

The IYAFA Europe regional workshop, the last of the series of IYAFA workshops organized by ICSF, was convened in collaboration with Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE) and Mulleres Salgadas...

First Session of FAO Sub-Committee on Fisheries Management – Statements by Observers (as submitted) compiled by ICSF

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First Session of FAO Sub-Committee on Fisheries Management – Statements by Observers (as submitted) compiled by ICSF https://www.fao.org/cofi/fish-management/statements/en

First Session of FAO Sub-Committee on Fisheries Management – Statements by Members (as submitted) compiled by ICSF

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First Session of FAO Sub-Committee on Fisheries Management – Statements by Members (as submitted) compiled by ICSF. https://www.fao.org/cofi/fish-management/statements/en

Guidelines for A Better Framework for Small-scale Fishworkers by ICSF, 2023

An overview of SSF Guidelines implementation in ten countries: Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam. Produced by: International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF)  ...

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Framework: A handbook 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 FAO, 2023

In 2014, the first internationally negotiated instrument dealing specifically with artisanal and small-scale fisheries known as the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security...

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: 42 officials and SSF leaders were interviewed, 13 focus group discussions (FGDs) with 227 participants were conducted; and over 20...

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Draft Report of the Thirty-Sixth Session of the Committee on Fisheries – For adoption by FAO, 2024

The Committee on Fisheries (COFI) held its Thirty-sixth Session from 8 to12 July 2024. The session was convened in hybrid modality. The session was webcast and the recording would be...

Stocktaking of the 10th anniversary of the voluntary guidelines for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries in the context of food security and poverty eradication

Committee on Fisheries. Thirty-sixth Session, 8-12 July 2024. Stocktaking of the 10th anniversary of the voluntary guidelines for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries in the context of food security and poverty...

Social protection for Blue Transformation

Committee on Fisheries. Thirty-sixth Session, 8-12 July 2024. Social protection for Blue Transformation Download

A regional framework among regional fishery bodies: Scaling up cooperation and coordination towards sustainable fisheries

Committee on Fisheries. Thirty-sixth Session, 8-12 July 2024. A regional framework among regional fishery bodies: Scaling up cooperation and coordination towards sustainable fisheries Download  

Blue Transformation actions on climate resilient aquatic food systems – supporting the FAO strategy on climate change

Committee on Fisheries. Thirty-sixth Session, 8-12 July 2024. Blue Transformation actions on climate resilient aquatic food systems – supporting the FAO strategy on climate change Download

Committee on Fisheries. Thirty-sixth Session, 8-12 July 2024: Fisheries and aquaculture within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14)

Committee on Fisheries. Thirty-sixth Session, 8-12 July 2024. Fisheries and aquaculture within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) Download

Committee on Fisheries, Thirty-sixth Session, 8-12 July 2024: Guidelines for Sustainable Aquaculture

Committee on Fisheries, Thirty-sixth Session, 8-12 July 2024: Guidelines for Sustainable Aquaculture Download

Implementing the small-scale fisheries guidelines for gender-equitable and climate-resilient food systems and livelihoods: Summary baseline report of the FAO FMM/GLO/155/MUL Project: Indonesia, Madagascar, Namibia and the Philippines

This report presents the design and results of a baseline survey with respect to a project of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) focusing on empowering...

Report of the First Session of the Sub-Committee on Fisheries Management, Virtual Meeting, 15−18 January 2024 by FAO, 2024

The First Session of the Sub-Committee on Fisheries Management of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) was held virtually from 15 to 18 January 2024. It was attended by 95...

Environmental stewardship by small-scale fisheries by FAO

Small-scale fisheries (SSF), including fishers and fishworkers together with their communities and organizations, are among the world’s most effective contributors to safeguarding aquatic resources and environments. Living near to, and...

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