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Small-scale Fisheries Background

4 months ago

3 min read
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Small-scale fisheries, encompassing all activities along the value chain in both marine and inland waters, play an essential role in food security and nutrition. According to estimates, small-scale fisheries employ more than 90 percent of the approximately 120 million people employed in fisheries. An estimated 97 percent of these fishworkers live in developing countries. In addition, about half of those working in small-scale fisheries are women, mostly engaged in post-harvest activities, especially marketing and processing. Small-scale fisheries are increasingly being recognized, especially in developing countries, for their contribution to sustainable food systems and the opportunities they present for sustainable development and poverty eradication (World Bank, 2012).

Small-scale fishing communities are often overlooked, and their actors tend not to be involved in the decision-making processes that influence their lives and future (FAO, 2018). Where this type of neglect exists in small-scale fisheries value chains, it is vital that efforts be made to enable social organization among fishworkers to strengthen their voice. Failing to do so impedes the full extension of their human rights, including their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Equally important, fishworkers must be provided with the capacity and facilities to optimize the quantity and quality of the product being traded, as this is also crucial for reducing resource pressure and preserving marine ecosystems for future generations.

There is an evident connection between the challenges faced by small-scale fishing communities and the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Indeed, the importance of addressing the inherent challenges faced by small-scale fisheries in producing high-quality, safe food and reaching markets is explicitly recognized by SDG Target 14.b: "Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets"; and SDG Target 2.3: "By 2030 double the agricultural productivity and the incomes of small-scale food producers, particularly women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment".

Governments, private enterprises, NGOs, development agencies and civil society all have an essential role to play in enhancing value chains, post-harvest operations and trade to facilitate market access for small-scale fishers and fishworkers. These efforts contribute to enhancing food security and poverty reduction in fishing communities and, more generally, to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source: Zelasney, J., Ford, A., Westlund, L., Ward, A. and Riego Peñarubia, O. eds. 2020. Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries: Showcasing applied practices in value chains, post-harvest operations and trade. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 652. Rome, FAO. https://doi.org/10.4060/ca8402en


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

http://www.fao.org/
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