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SSF Guidelines

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

2022

Asia Workshop: IYAFA 2022-Celebrating Sustainable and Equitable Small-scale Fisheries

The Asia workshop is to strengthen the recognition of small-scale fisheries’ crucial contributions to global food security and nutrition, the importance of tenure rights in the sector, and social development. The workshop is an opportunity to take stock of how the SSF Guidelines are being implemented in Asia to eradicate poverty, ensure food security and nutrition, and promote the tenure rights of small-scale fishing communities. The workshop will include 45 participants from community-based organizations, national fishworkers’ organizations, women in fisheries networks, and civil society organizations from 11 South and Southeast Asian countries - including Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Cambodia, and Vietnam. For more: https://www.icsf.net/resources/asia-workshop-iyafa-2022-celebrating-sustainable-and-equitable-small-scale-fisheries/

2021-2022

The new phase complements the completed project in 9 countries especially to train indigenous youth in Brazil, to animate national platforms of small-scale fisheries actors in Ghana, to raise awareness about the SSF Guidelines among small-scale fisheries actors, to establish linkages with other small-scale fisheries initiatives in Nigeria that are working in partnership with FAO at the national and regional level and to organize awareness and capacity development training workshops, formation of women’s platform, and development of information materials.

Resources

Asia Workshop: IYAFA 2022-Celebrating Sustainable and Equitable Small-scale Fisheries

Asia Workshop: IYAFA 2022-Celebrating Sustainable and Equitable Small-scale Fisheries, 5 to 8 May 2022, Bangkok, Thailand Organized by ICSF and SDF The Asia workshop is to strengthen the recognition of…

National Workshop: SSF Guidelines and Women in Fisheries, India

National Workshop: SSF Guidelines and Women in Fisheries, India, Asha Nivas, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 8 to 10 April 2022 The negotiated Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the…

Report on workshop on enhancing capacities of women fishworkers in India for the implementation of the SSF Guidelines, 21–23 November 2016, Ashoka Hall, Asha Nivas Social Service Centre, Chennai, India By ICSF, 2016

The workshop was proposed as a follow-up to the 2010 workshop, keeping in mind the opportunities presented with the Tenure and SSF Guidelines, changes in the last half decade for…

Preparatory workshops for VG-SSF Guidelines: Reports and statements compilation by ICSF – Volume 2

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Historic Day for Small Scale Fisheries: First ever international instrument dedicated to promoting and defending small scale fisheries adopted by 143 Member States of FAO’s Committee on Fisheries (COFI). Rome, Italy,…

Preparatory workshops for VG-SSF Guidelines: Reports and statements compilation by ICSF – Volume 1

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Historic Day for Small Scale Fisheries: First ever international instrument dedicated to promoting and defending small scale fisheries adopted by 143 Member States of FAO’s Committee on Fisheries (COFI). Rome,…

Re-configuring the small-scale fishery of Kerala State: An initiative to revive the discussions on the relevance of the small-scale fishery and the challenges it currently faces in Kerala State. By ICSF, 2016

The initiative was composed of (a) making a summary of the VGSSF in the local language (b) conducting discussions and brief studies about some challenges being faced by the SSF…

Social relations and dynamics shaping the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Small-scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines) in South Africa By Jackie Sunde, ICSF, 2016

This research has highlighted the importance of contextual analyses of social relations of power prior to the implementation of the SSF Guidelines. https://www.icsf.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/930.ICSF151.pdf

UserRights 2015: A Global Forum on Rights based approaches for fisheries – A Report By Sebastian Mathew, ICSF, 2015

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The Conference allowed different groups to share their experiences on understanding of rights regimes. 139 participants attended the conference from 38 countries from across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean,…

Report of the ICSF-BOBLME India (East Coast) Workshop: Implementing the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) By ICSF, 2015

The workshop was the third in a series of consultations held in 2015 across the globe to promote the ownership of the SSF Guidelines among different stakeholders. In the run…

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Vital Fisheries: Setting pathways for the implementation of International Guidelines for Small-Scale Fisheries in Brazil: Final Report of the National Seminar on Capacity-building for the Implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Small-scale Fisheries By Leopoldo Cavaleri Gerhardinger and Daniele Vila-Nova, 2016

The seminar had the objective of divulging and stimulating discussions and learning about values, norms and principles contained therein and to enable support for its implementation in Brazil. Its appropriation,…

Oceans and Sustainable Development: Adopting a Human Rights-based Approach in Small-scale Fisheries By Sebastian Mathew, 2015

This presentation given by Sebastian Mathew at the Sixteenth meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea highlighted the SSF Guidelines…

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020: Sustainability in action FAO, 2020

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture aims to provide objective, reliable and up-to-date information to a wide audience – policymakers, managers, scientists, stakeholders and indeed everyone interested in the…

Video documentaries from FAO on the International Guidelines on Small-scale fisheries FAO, 2020

This link provides a collection of video documentaries from FAO on the International Guidelines on small-scale fisheries

SSF Guidelines: Governance of tenure and resource management By FAO

This short, animated video gives insights into governance of tenure and resource management in small-scale fisheries. The term “tenure” refers to how rights to natural resources such as land, lakes,…

SSF Guidelines: Social development, employment and decent work By FAO

This video gives insights into issues of social development, employment and decent work in small-scale fisheries. For the rights of fishers and fish workers to be recognized, it is key…

SSF Guidelines: Disaster risk and climate change By FAO

Small-scale fishing communities are often some of the most vulnerable communities to disaster risks and climate change. This short, animated video shows impacts on small-scale fisheries – and what can…

SSF Guidelines: Value chains, post-harvest and trade By FAO

This short, animated video gives insights into value chains, post-harvest and trade in small-scale fisheries in small-scale fisheries. The importance of small-scale fisheries value chains – and the women and…

Guidelines for increasing access of small-scale fisheries to insurance services in Asia: A handbook for insurance and fisheries stakeholders By Tietze U., van Anrooy, R. , FAO, 2019

These Guidelines for increasing access of small-scale fisheries to insurance services provide an important next step in the long-standing cooperation between APRACA and FAO in promoting financial services for small-scale…

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