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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

IYAFA Regional workshop: Getting the story straight and envisioning a fair future for small-scale fisheries in Europe, 13-16 November 2023, Galicia, Spain

Vilanova de Arousa in Galicia, Spain, will host the ‘IYAFA Regional workshop: Getting the story straight and envisioning a fair future for small-scale fisheries in Europe’ on November 13-16. Its key themes include: 1. Creating a positive narrative of small-scale fisheries (SSF) in Europe. 2. Strengthening governance transition and related processes. 3. Strengthening capacities of SSF and support organizations and building alliances. 4. Women’s role in fisheries in the region. The workshop will highlight that the attention to SSF, along with their crucial role as food producers globally, should continue beyond IYAFA 2022. The workshop will include 45 participants from national and regional SSF organizations, networks of women working in fisheries, NGOs and academic institutions from eighteen countries across Europe. For more details, please visit: https://www.icsf.net/resources/europe-workshop-iyafa-2023/

Africa Workshop: IYAFA 2022-Celebrating Sustainable and Equitable Small-scale Fisheries, 15-18 February 2023

The Africa workshop will be held in Accra, Ghana from 15 to 18 February 2023. The overall goal of the workshop is to strengthen the recognition of small-scale fisheries’ crucial contributions to global food security and nutrition, the importance of access rights in the sector, social development and gender equality. The workshop is also an opportunity to take stock of how the SSF Guidelines are being implemented in Africa to eradicate poverty, ensure food security and nutrition, and promote the tenure rights of small-scale fishing communities. The workshop will include 40 participants from community-based organizations, national and international fishworker organizations, networks of women in fisheries, and civil society organizations from across Africa. For more details, please visit: https://www.icsf.net/resources/africa-workshop-iyafa-2023/

Resources

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

The 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...

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

At its 31st session, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) through its Committee on Fisheries (COFI) adopted the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food...

IYAFA Regional workshop: Getting the story straight and envisioning a fair future for small-scale fisheries in Europe, 13-16 November 2023, Galicia, Spain

  IYAFA Regional workshop: Getting the story straight and envisioning a fair future for small-scale fisheries in Europe  13-16 November 2023, Vilanova de Arousa, Galicia, Spain Organized by      International...

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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...

Democratizing the implementation of the Small-scale Fisheries Guidelines by John Kurien

Unlike formal conventions and declarations of the UN, voluntary guidelines provide an integral role for civil society actors and communities in shaping them. Focusing on the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing...

Call for Submissions: 10th anniversary of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines)

10th anniversary of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) 2024 marks the 10th anniversary of the endorsement of...

The small-scale fisheries and energy nexus: Opportunities for renewable energy interventions by Manas Puri et al., 2023

Renewable sources of energy are gaining traction worldwide. Solar, wind power, biomass energy and geothermal heat energy are already used in applications in food value chains. Renewable energy can provide...

International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022: Final report by FAO, 2023

Fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants are fundamental, essential and indispensable foods eaten by people around the world as part of healthy diets, cultural heritage and culinary tradition. Small-scale artisanal...

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 fish workers, key partners and decision-makers in advance of...

Namibia’s National Plan of Action for Small-Scale Fisheries 2022-2026 (NPOA-SSF)

The NPOA-SSF is developed against the backdrop of the Global FAO Umbrella Programme “enhancing the contribution of small-scale fisheries to food security and sustainable livelihoods” which supports the promotion, application,...

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