ICSF SSF Guidelines Workshop (2014)

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Towards Socially Just and Sustainable Fisheries: ICSF Workshop on Implementing the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication

Le Pondy Hotel, Puducherry, 21 to 24 July 2014

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Of all aquatic space-related activities, the fisheries sector provides the largest share of employment, food and nutrition security to the poor. Small-scale and artisanal fisheries, in particular, contribute about two-thirds of the global fish production destined for direct human consumption and accommodate over 90 per cent of those who make their living from fisheries. For every ten fishers and fishworkers, more than nine originate from small-scale fisheries. They include: coastal and marine; riparian and riverine; and lakeshore and lacustrine fishers and fishworkers who are either full or part-time, or seasonal or occasional. They comprise both resident and migrant fishers and fishworkers, including internal and international migrants living and working in the proximity of urban centres or in far flung rural areas. Women comprise at least half the work force in small-scale fisheries. They make a vital contribution to sustaining fisheries based livelihoods, although this often goes unrecognized and poorly compensated. Many small-scale fishing communities are fully dependent on access to fishery resources and land for enjoying benefits from fishing, for carrying out processing and marketing, and for housing and meeting other community needs.

Despite the important contributions made by small-scale fisheries to poverty eradication and food security, small-scale fishers and fishworkers continue to be marginalized at different levels. The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Alleviation (SSF Guidelines) are, in this context, being developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to reverse this marginalization and to valorise their contribution to food security and nutrition, to poverty eradication and equitable development and sustainable utilization of fisheries resources. The SSF Guidelines are developed as a complement to the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF). Recognizing, among other things, that small-scale fishing communities suffer from unequal power relations and conflicts with large-scale fishing operations, as well as that they face stiff competition from other actors, the SSF Guidelines promote adhering to human rights standards and promoting a human rights-based approach to fisheries development and management as well as the use of aquatic, coastal, riparian and lake shore space.

The SSF Guidelines are developed through a consultative and participatory process since2010,directly involving representatives of governments and civil society organizations (CSOs) in the development. These Guidelines include numerous elements that had been proposed by CSOs and supported by FAO Member States. They bring under one instrument elements of common concern hitherto dealt with in different instruments. As an international NGO in status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the FAO, the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) has— in partnership with the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP),the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers (WFF), and the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC)—been providing leadership to the CSO community in all major consultations leading to the development of these Guidelines. The majority of invitees to the Workshop have one way or another, contributed to this process and to the content of the Guidelines, particularly to obtain feedback from active fishworker groups, including women’s groups and indigenous peoples’ groups. They are meeting to discuss implementation issues of the SSF Guidelines, as agreed by FAO Member States. Yet others are considered to be important potential actors for implementation.



The SSF Guidelines call upon all parties, including CSOs, to implement the objectives and recommendations of these Guidelines through such mechanisms as South/ North-South cooperation, institutional capacity development, knowledge sharing, exchange of experiences and assistance in developing small-scale fisheries policies. All parties are also invited to participate in monitoring the implementation of these guidelines, especially by employing gender-responsive approaches. Based on these premises, the objectives of the Workshop from a CSO perspective are to:

  • Exchange views and experiences regarding how SSF Guidelines could benefit small-scale fishing communities, worldwide, and identify constraints and opportunities for their adoption;
  • Identify and prioritise elements of SSF Guidelines for implementation, propose relevant strategies, taking into account the diversity of small-scale fisheries, and discuss approaches to implementation for effectiveness at different levels;
  • Discuss respective roles and responsibilities of different organizations at national, regional and international level towards implementation; and
  • Develop/work towards/sketch out a plan to monitor implementation initiatives of SSF Guidelines to examine if they adopt a human rights-based approach and a gender-responsive approach.