By Ahana Lakshmi (, Independent Researcher, Chennai, India


Most countries are signatory to a host of international Conventions, and committed to various programmes and protocols at the national, regional and global level. Trying to extract relevant country-level information related to policy and legislation in the context of fisheries, especially the Small-scale sector, can be quite an effort as volumes of scattered material have to be sifted through. For example, did you know that currently only 18 countries have national policies/legislation mentioning the SSF Guidelines?



It is precisely this context that makes the legal and policy database on Small-scale fisheries, SSF-LEX, an important contribution to the implementation of the SSF Guidelines. It contains information distilled from the FAOLEX database with a menu specially customised for the SSF Guidelines. The Home Page contains links not only to the SSF Guidelines but also to two very useful guides and a five-lesson e-learning course on legal and policy considerations.

The database has country-wise information on international and regional commitments, constitutional provisions, institutional arrangements, definitions of Small-scale fisheries and related terms, national legislations and policies, and national regulatory frameworks. Clicking on the national regulatory framework for a specific country expands a drop-down list containing the headings of the six chapters of the SSF Guidelines, each linked to the country-specific policies and legislations pertaining to that chapter. Although the information is limited to what is available on the FAOLEX database, it is still very useful. Clicking the ‘Download Profile’ link against a country generates a pdf document with all the country-specific information organized under different heads with live links leading to FAOLEX.

A useful feature is the option to compare up to three countries at a time based on selected parameters. Currently this is available only for five African countries but when this feature is expanded to include all countries, it would be of great value especially for the purpose of advocacy and lobbying. For more information: SSF-LEX: