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Chapter 7 of the SSF Guidelines is dedicated to value chains, post-harvest operations and trade. In particular, it recognizes the rights of fishers and fishworkers, acting both individually and collectively, to improve their livelihoods through trade at global, regional and national levels, and by enhancing value chains and post-harvest operations.
The recommendations contained in Chapter 7 include building capacity of small-scale fishers, strengthening organizations and empowering women; reducing post- harvest losses and adding value to small-scale fisheries production; and facilitating sustainable trade and equitable market access. The following subsections present key challenges faced by small-scale fishers and fishworkers in obtaining market access and enhancing value chains and post-harvest operations, and highlight potential solutions based on recommendations in the SSF Guidelines.
organizations and empower women** The small-scale fisheries post-harvest sector and its actors play a central role in the value chain, but they are not always included in relevant decision-making processes. In particular, women are frequently excluded from such processes despite their considerable contribution to the post-harvest sector. The participation of small-scale fishworkers in decision-making processes is often hampered by limited organizational capacity and unequal access to usable assets, technology, finance, education and services.
Gender-sensitive development of small and medium-sized enterprises, cooperatives and other forms of social organization is required, along with appropriate infrastructure and capacity development at all stages of the value chain. This can improve both access to markets and participation in relevant decision-making processes, thus contributing to fair distribution of benefits, enhanced livelihoods and food security.
Post-harvest fish losses occur in value chains throughout the world. Not only do these losses result in lost income to fishers, processors and traders, they also contribute to food insecurity by reducing the amount of fish available for the consumer. Accurate assessments of post-harvest losses in small-scale fisheries are difficult to obtain, as much of the catch is unrecorded and trade is often informal. Nonetheless, it has been estimated by FAO that 10 percent of the world fish catch (in live weight equivalent) is lost due to poor handling, processing, storage and distribution. Food quality loss, because of poor handling, is the most pervasive form of loss in small-scale fisheries (FAO, 2011).
Sustainable practices along the value chain can help avoid losses and waste by combining traditional, cost-efficient methods with innovation and new technology. Where appropriate, value addition should be promoted, alongside robust fisheries management systems, to improve livelihoods and prevent overfishing. Value addition techniques can lead to, inter alia, increased income and diversification in the range of products available. Not only does value addition enable greater financial planning and security, it also reduces negative impacts on marine ecosystems. To achieve this goal, small-scale fisheries actors need access to financial services, including credit and microfinance, savings services, and payment and remittance services.
Trade in fishery products can have a positive effect on food security, both through the higher availability of fish for human consumption and the higher income generated for fishers and fishworkers. However, sustainable trade is conditional on there being sustainable resource and food security management practices in place (FAO, 2005). If export demand is left to dominate trade flows from a fishery, this can undermine both local food security and sustainability of the resource.
Markets, be they national, regional or global, present particular opportunities and challenges for small-scale fisheries. Opportunities include the potential to earn a higher value per unit, and the possibility to engage with actors who can facilitate access to financial resources, capacity building and training as part of their investment in the value chain. Complex frameworks of rules and regulations govern fisheries value chains. The wide variety of trade policies implemented by countries, including tariffs, subsidies and non-tariff measures, can have a significant influence on fisheries production and trade, particularly in relation to market access. It can be challenging to meet these regulations and standards, especially when considering the capacity and knowledge constraints of small-scale fisheries actors in developing countries. In addition, unequal power relations often exist between different actors along the value chain, leaving some vulnerable to disadvantageous contracts and unfair conditions and practices. Training and capacity development of individuals and organizations on market functions, literacy and numeracy should be offered to facilitate and better prepare small-scale fisheries actors to engage with and compete in formal markets.
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