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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

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

The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) Trust and the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) jointly organized a Training and Capacity Development workshop at KILA, Kerala, India on...

Report of the Workshop on Sea Safety and Fisheries Management: Training and Capacity Development of Local Self-Governments, 01-02 March 2023, Kerala, India (in Malayalam)

Report of the Workshop on Sea Safety and Fisheries Management: Training and Capacity Development of Local Self-Governments, 01-02 March 2023, Kerala, India (in Malayalam) For more details about the workshop,...

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

In this context, ICSF and its members are organizing four regional workshops and women’s exchanges in 2022 in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Africa, in partnership with...

Taller para Latinoamérica y el Caribe — AIPAA 2022 Celebración de la pesca sostenible y equitativa a pequeña escala – Informe,2-5 de noviembre de 2022, Parque Estatal de la Isla de Cardoso, Cananéia, São Paulo, Brasil

El Colectivo Internacional de Apoyo al Pescador Artesanal (CIAPA), en colaboración con la Comisión Nacional de Fortalecimiento de las Reservas Extractivas de Brasil (CONFREM), el Instituto Linha D’Água y la...

Report on National Training of Trainers (TOT) Workshop on the SSF Guidelines (Inland Fisheries), December 22-24, 2022, Seva Kendra, Kolkata, India

The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) Trust organized a National Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop on the SSF Guidelines (Inland Fisheries), India at Seva Kendra, Kolkata, India on...

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

The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) Trust organized a National Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop on the SSF Guidelines (Marine Fisheries), India at Asha Nivas Social Service Centre,...

FAO – ICSF Project: Strengthening capacity of small-scale fisheries communities at local level in Brazil, Ghana and Nigeria

Strengthening capacity of small-scale fisheries communities at local level in Brazil, Ghana and Nigeria to actively engage in securing sustainable small-scale fisheries in the context of the implementation of the...

State-Level Capacity Development Training Workshop on the SSF Guidelines, Maharashtra (Mumbai), 15 March 2023

  State-Level Capacity Development Training Workshop on the SSF Guidelines, Maharashtra (Mumbai), 15 March 2023     The state-level training workshop, Maharashtra, was co-organized with the Central Institute of Fisheries...

State-Level Capacity Development Training Workshop on the SSF Guidelines, Gujarat (Bharuch), 12 March 2023

  State-Level Capacity Development Training Workshop on the SSF Guidelines, Gujarat (Bharuch), 12 March 2023     The state-level training workshop, Gujarat, was held in Bharuch on 12 March 2023...

State-Level Capacity Development Training Workshop on the SSF Guidelines, Tamil Nadu (Chennai), 06 March 2023

  State-Level Capacity Development Training Workshop on the SSF Guidelines, Tamil Nadu (Chennai), 06 March 2023     The state-level training workshop of Tamil Nadu focusing on mapping and GIS...

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...

Illuminating Hidden Harvests – The contributions of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development by FAO, Duke University & WorldFish, 2023

Illuminating Hidden Harvests: the contributions of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development (hereinafter IHH) is a global study uncovering the contributions and impacts of small-scale fisheries through a multidisciplinary approach to...

International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 Global Action Plan

In 2016, COFI endorsed a proposal for the Declaration of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture with the purpose of sensitizing public opinion and governments on these sub-sectors...

Applying coherently the human rights framework to small-scale fisheries for achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals: Policy Brief

In the context of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022, FAO, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the collaborative research initiative One...

Legal Reflections on the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines: Building a Global Safety Net for Small-Scale Fisheries by Julia N. Nakamura

The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, endorsed by the Committee on Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of...

Blue Transformation – Roadmap 2022–2030: A vision for FAO’s work on aquatic food systems

This document outlines a roadmap for the transformation of aquatic food systems – ‘Blue Transformation’, providing a compass for the FAO’s work on aquatic food systems for the period 2022–2030....

Global assessment of COVID-19 on fisheries and aquaculture: COFI-35 session background paper

COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, and years later there remains serious ongoing economic, health, and food system challenges. Global growth is estimated to slow in...

Report of the Third Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. Brussels, Belgium, 31 May − 4 June 2021

The Parties discussed the results of the questionnaire for the review and assessment of the effectiveness of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), agreeing that the questionnaire was a useful...

The 1989 FAO Standard Specification for the Marking and Identification of Fishing Vessels – use and options for review

The main conclusion of this study is that the identification and marking of fishing vessels and the compiling and maintaining of this information in accessible national, regional and global records...