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Making Fisheries Sustainable - CLOSED

The online discussion on Making Fisheries Sustainable took place during the preparatory process for The Ocean Conference in order to engage stakeholders in assessing the challenges and opportunities related to delivering on implementation of SDG14.4, 14.4 and 14.b aimed at making fisheries sustainable. The discussion ran from 20 March – 7 April 2017. More....

The discussion is now closed and the final report will be posted online here shortly.

Fisheries discussion Question 1

Target 14.4: By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the challenges faced in your community, country, or region, or from the perspective of your organization, in achieving Target 14.4?
  2. What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.4?
  3. Please share below any innovative partnerships aimed at achieving Targets 14.4 - existing or proposed - that you are aware of or involved in that can be highlighted at the June Ocean Conference and that can advance effective actions from local to global levels.

Fisheries Discussion Question 2

Target 14.6: By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the challenges faced in your community, country, or region, or from the perspective or your organization, in achieving Target 14.6?
  2. What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.6?
  3. Please share below any innovative partnerships aimed at achieving Targets 14.6 - existing or proposed - that you are aware of or involved in that can be highlighted at the June Ocean Conference and can advance effective actions from local to global levels.
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Michael Batty's picture

Michael Batty said:

This submission is made by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries, and is based on advice that we we have been providing to six Pacific Island members of WTO with respect to their interests in the regional tuna fishery.
1. What are the challenges faced in your community, country, or region, or from the perspective or your organization, in achieving Target 14.6?

Small island developing states have a clear interest in seeing fisheries subsidies disciplined and we believe this ‘low ambition’ target is fully achievable. We acknowledge the huge waste of resources globally in subsidising fishing on stocks which would otherwise be left to recover (the ‘sunken billions’), and we cannot compete with the big subsidisers in terms of financial resources. The southern longline fishery in our region has already seen domestic vessels driven out of business by subsidised competition. However, the definition of subsidies is broad, and we are wary of two things in seeking to achieve this target:
(i) There is a need to preserve policy space to support the development of a domestic industry in a region that suffers many inherent economic disadvantages. While this would not target overfished stocks, the fisheries are multi-species and we are cautious of language which would prohibit subsidies for any fishery which impacts on by-catch species which may be subject to overfishing;
(ii) While supporting improved transparency, as countries with small administrations and limited resources, we are opposed to reporting mechanisms that will impose a large administrative burden on countries that only provide very small subsidies.

2. What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.6?

Agreement in the WTO Ministerial meeting in December this year.

3. Please share below any innovative partnerships aimed at achieving Targets 14.6 - existing or proposed - that you are aware of or involved in that can be highlighted at the June Ocean Conference and can advance effective actions from local to global levels.

Pacific Island countries have been broadly supportive of the proposals advanced by the ACP group and the LDC group in WTO; but have also engaged with New Zealand of the ‘Friends of Fish’ (and a fellow FFA member). There is a convergence of support for action on this issue – with only a few large subsidisers still opposing measures that would go some way towards achieving the SDG target. Hopefully a compromise can be reached.

Garima Prakash's picture

Garima Prakash said:

I think it will be important for negotiators to define a 'subsidy'. Prohibiting or restricting only 'specific subsidies' [as per the concept of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures in the WTO] may not achieve the target. Even non-specific subsidies that contribute to overfishing, overcapacity, IUU fishing are responsible for the unsustainability of fisheries.

Another approach may be to introduce these prohibitions/restrictions in stages. So for the first leg of implementation, only specific subsidies are considered, followed by all subsidies contributing to overfishing, overcapacity, IUU fishing.

Roger Martini's picture

Roger Martini replied:

Hi Garima,

Your point on specificity is a good one. As you note, the WTO discussions concern specific subsidies, and even there the scope of the intended diciplines are unclear. OECD data (oe.cd/FSE) show that once you strip out important policies that are commonly considered non-specific, such as fuel tax policies, and those that are considered generally benign, such as management and infrastructure, there are less than USD 1 billion in subsidies potentially impacted by the SDG 14.6 goal. That is much less than the USD 35 billion number that is frequently cited (Sumaila 2016 in Marine Policy) and probably not enough to secure a meaningful improvement in outcomes in fish stocks, fishing capacity and overfishing. 

That means countries will have to face up to the possibility that SDG 14.6 as currently understood may not be effective at achieving its objectives and that more has to be done by looking at which policies most strongly effect fisheries and not only those considered to be "fisheries policies". 

Roger Martini's picture

Roger Martini said:

Hi Joe,Thanks for kicking off the discussion. I may not answer your questions directly but I want to start with a point around which I have observed a bit of confusion. SDG 14.6 calls for, among other things, a prohibition of certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. This need not imply that countries have to eliminate support to their sectors, or even reduce it significantly. That kind of reform can be politically difficult to achieve.There are lots of reasons to believe that support can be delivered to the fishing sector in ways that have much lower negative impacts on overcapacity and overfishing, while at the same time achieving their objectives more effectively and efficiently. In the long term, improved policy efficiency will deliver savings to governments, but in the meantime governments need not see 14.6 as reducing their ability to set and meet objectives for their fisheries and to offer support to fishers.The OECD is working on identifying in a rigorous way how different forms of support affect overcapacity and overfishing, and how they benefit fishers as well. We will be sharing the results of this research over the course of 2017 and 2018, along with advice as to how governments can create pathways to beneficial reforms of their fishing sectors.Cheers,Roger

Joe Zelasney's picture

Joe Zelasney said:

Welcome to the online forum on Partnership Dialogue 4, “Making Fisheries Sustainable,” in advance of the SDG-14 Ocean Conference that will take place in June of this year. We are very pleased to be moderating this discussion and look forward to hearing from you - governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, international financial institutions, NGOs, civil society organizations, academic institutions, the scientific community, private sector, philanthropic organizations and other actors.

In particular, we’re interested in receiving contributions on how the global community can achieve Target 14.6: prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation.

To help guide and structure the conversation we’ve proposed the following three questions:

  1. What are the challenges faced in your community, country, or region, or from the perspective of your organization, in achieving Target 14.6?
  2. What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in a global 'Call to Action' for achieving Target 14.6?
  3. Please share any innovative partnerships - existing or proposed - that you are aware of or involved in that can advance effective actions from local to global levels aimed at achieving Target 14.6?

This forum will remain open until 7 April. Summaries of the responses will be compiled at the end of the discussion period and posted on the platform. 



Your voice matters!  Make it count as the global community converges in June 2017 to commit to action to realize Sustainable Development Goal 14 to sustain Life Below Water for our and future generations!

Fisheries Discussion Question 3

Target 14.b: Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the challenges faced in your community, country or region, or from the perspective or your organization, in achieving Target 14.b?
  2. What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.b?
  3. Please share below any innovative partnerships aimed at achieving Targets 14.b - existing or proposed - that you are aware of or involved in that can be highlighted at the June Ocean Conference and can advance effective actions from local to global levels.
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Joe Zelasney's picture

Joe Zelasney said:

Steve Rocliffe said:

What are the challenges faced in your community, country or region, or from the perspective or your organization, in achieving Target 14.b?

  • Remoteness - locations where infrastructure doesn’t exist is poor 
  • Regulation of markets - unmonitored and unregulated markets, in which artisanal fishers are often vulnerable to inequitous price controls by powerful market actors 
  • Introduction of markets for key targets that provide important food stuffs could undermine local food security 
  • In-migration - in areas where there are few alternatives improved access to resources and markets could drive/support in migration 
  • Sustainability of markets 
  • Data deficiency - poorly/unmanaged fisheries and markets
  • Low levels of education/literacy (and lack of collective bargaining power/ awareness of rights/ poverty) in fishing communities resulting in exploitation (low $ to fishers and unsafe working conditions e.g. diving for sea cucumbers
  • Unstable government/ corruption? (maybe this goes into regulation of markets above)
  • Pre-existing inequalities give rise to elite capture of benefits as new markets introduced 

What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.b?

  • Building greater capacity for local/co-management
  • Improve regulation of current markets and advocate for fair pricing schemes and decent working conditions
  • Recognition and protection of secure rights for artisanal fishers to inshore zone 
  • Build awareness of rights/ capacity to negotiate at local level
Joe Zelasney's picture

Joe Zelasney said:

Please find the following comment, posted on behalf of: 

Dr. B. B. Solarin,

Former Director (Fisheries Resources),

c/o Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research

With reference to the Virtual dialogue on Making  Fisheries Sustainable, I wish to summarize my submission (in no particular order) as follows :

Ø  Reduction in the high rate of IUU fishing and other related issues.

Ø  Security issues including Armed sea robbery and sea piracy

Ø  Adequate safety measures and enforcement capabilities.

Ø  Issues on Environmental pollution or contamination.

Ø  Issues on migration of fishermen along the West Africa corridor.

Ø  Insurance schemes funding and administration.

Ø  Soft loan/Credit facilities with no or low interest rate.

Ø  Elimination or reduction in the conflicts between trawler fishermen and small scale fishers in inshore coastal waters (statutorily reserved for artisanal fisheries).

Ø  Limit beach seining and prohibit pair trawling and purse seining in the near shore coasal waters.

Ø  Gender issues and other related consideratons e.g. mainstreaming trans-boundary trades and health issues such as HIV/AIDs.

Ø  Issue of Child labour and education of school age children fishing communities.

Ø  Provision of amenities and facilities that will reduce the drudgery in value addition processes and marketing.

Ø  Establishment of Vessel Monitoring Sysyems (VMS) and regional collaboration on monitoring.

Ø  Bycatch issue especially in relation to shrimp trawling.

Ø  Conservation of endangered species including marine mammals, sea turtles and sea birds.

Ø  Involvement of small scale fishermen or fishing communities in negotiation of/review of international fishing agreements as well as agreements on trades in fish and fishery products.

Andrew Song's picture

Andrew Song said:

Thank you all for making this e-discussion possible in preparation of the Ocean Conference. I apologize that I will not be able to directly answer the three important questions posed. Here, I just want to raise a small observation regarding this Target in relation to other fishing-related SDG 14 Targets (i.e. 14.4 and 14.6). I am in agreement with the moderators and the many contributors in this e-forum that this Target 14.b must be enabled and given stronger political consideration, but cannot help seeing a potential contradiction between the other two Targets and 14.b. My concern is largely informed by the existence of the more biology/economics-oriented marine conservation theme which reflects the growing reports of how the expanding market access of small-scale fishers is a significant factor driving resource overexploitation, both locally (e.g. reef fish being depleted) and globally (e.g. species such as sea cucumber or aquarium fish being shipped to Asian markets in a serially depleting manner). While this simple relationship is never really that simple in reality, I sense that there is some truth to this. So perhaps being cautious about this unintended possibility (which I am sure is not new to the moderators and other contributors) would be a prudent step in taking 14.b to the next level!

Jonathan Peacey's picture

Jonathan Peacey said:

Thank you to the organizers for the opportunity to share some thoughts on Target 14.b – based on our work in the Western and Central Pacific. 

  1. What are the challenges faced in your community, country or region, or from the perspective or your organization, in achieving Target 14.b?

Pacific Island countries are facing a food security crisis. Traditionally, coral reef fisheries have been a cornerstone of food security, supplying 50 to 90% of daily protein needs in the Pacific (the global average is ~20%). This high dependency on fish is being eroded by population growth, urbanization, overfishing of reef fisheries, habitat degradation, and increased consumption of cheap, low-quality food.

One option to help address this problem is to increase access by local communities to the large, productive tuna fisheries in the region. If such access to tuna can be improved, it is estimated that by 2035 tuna will need to meet 25% of the fish required by Pacific Island countries for food security.

A challenge for many small coastal communities is that they do not have boats large enough to chase after fast-moving tuna schools offshore. To address this problem, Conservation International and partners are supporting national fisheries agencies to develop sustainable programs to install and maintain nearshore anchored fish aggregating devices (FADs). The FADs make it easier for fishers to catch tuna from small fishing craft. The FAD programs include training in construction and installation of FADs, monitoring of catches, and safe FAD-fishing practices.

Increasing access to tuna for local food security is also an essential adaptation to climate change. Over time, harvests of fish from even the best managed coastal fisheries in Pacific Small Island Developing States are expected to decline due to the degrading effects of increased sea surface temperature and ocean acidification on coral reefs. Providing communities with the option to catch tuna around FADs, together with maintenance of community-based marine managed areas to optimise the catch of reef fish, will be essential for maintaining fish supply and leveraging significant environmental adaptation benefits.

  1. What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.b?

It is a challenge for fisheries management agencies at all levels to balance the different potential benefits from tuna fisheries (including government income, employment, local economic stability, and local food security). An important action is for agencies to fully recognize the importance of fisheries for food security (including for helping reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases). Management measures required to help ensure tuna are available to local communities might include maintaining tuna stocks at sufficiently high levels so tuna are accessible to local communities and not just to efficient industrial fishing operations. It may also require restricting industrial fishing vessels to operating further offshore. 

Another way of increasing access to tuna – especially in urban areas – would be to require industrial tuna fishing companies to supply a small portion of their catch to local markets. Already some small and damaged tuna from industrial fishing vessels are sold in local markets in ports where transhipments occur but there is scope to expand the provision of tuna to urban centres. To keep things in perspective, the estimated 87,500 tonnes of tuna per year required to meet food security requirements across 22 Pacific Island countries by 2035 is only about 6% of the total tuna catch in the region.

Innovative partnerships aimed at achieving Targets 14.b

Conservation International, in partnership with the Asia Development Bank, WorldFish, and the Pacific Community (SPC), is supporting Pacific Islands national fisheries agencies to develop sustainable programs to install and maintain nearshore anchored fish aggregating devices (FADs) and help local communities in safe FAD fishing practices. 

Jonathan Peacey

Conservation International

RAHERIMIAMINA's picture

RAHERIMIAMINA said:

1-

L’accès aux marchés pour les pêcheurs artisans reste un défi énorme car dans notre pays comme pour d’autres pays aussi, car ils doivent passer ou solliciter d’autres pour pouvoir accéder à ces marchés compte tenu de leur faiblesse éducative et financières, et des exigences en matière de normes ou standard qui nécessitent beaucoup en termes d’investissements financiers et de formations De ce fait, la plus value essentielle restera aux mains des détenteurs d’argent

2-

  • A notre niveau, nous préconisons le renforcement des accords bi-latéraux en premier lieu, entre les acteurs principaux avec des engagements précis de chaque partie. C’est un pas nécessaire si on veut rehausser vraiment la vie des pêcheurs artisans, si on veut qu’ils soient les vrais responsables de la durabilité de la pêche.

3-

  • Dans le bassin de l’Océan Indien, je pense que nous la population indianocénique, nous consommons les mêmes poissons, mais des conditions d’ordre économique ou autres entraînent que la population d’un des pays ne peut manger des poissons venant d’un pays riverain ou bien ils peuvent mais à des prix exorbitants. Il n’est pas normal que la population de l’un des pays soit privée de manger les poissons d’un autre pays riverain pour des raisons de coûts ou de normes, alors que d’autres pays venant de loin disposant soi-disant des moyens peuvent le faire. Pour pallier à cette injustice, je propose que chaque partie pourrait faire des échanges commerciaux (exemple financier et humains) propres, avec des engagements de bonne foi. Ces échanges seront bénéfiques pour les parties prenantes surtout les petits pêcheurs pour qu’ils puissent vraiment bénéficier des fruits de leur travail, tout en partageant une richesse commune que sont les produits de la mer.
Nicole Franz's picture

Nicole Franz replied:

Merci pour partager la visione indianocéanique Raherimiamina. Il semble que la reconnaissance du valeur de la peche artisanale en terms de securité alimentaire n'est pas encore assez forte. Egalement, les imbalances de pouvoir entre les acteurs certainement contribuent à rendre la situation plus difficile pour les pecheurs artisans. Je me demande si des campagnes ciblant les consommateurs peuvent jouer un role, pour rendre plus visible la situation? Et quel est le role des organisations des pecheurs artisans - est-qu'il y a une exemple dans la region pour montrer comme des alliances des acteurs peuvent contribuer a equilibrer la situation?

RAHERIMIAMINA's picture

RAHERIMIAMINA replied:

Bonjour Nicole,

Oui actuellement les artisans pêcheurs de l'Océan Indien sont réunis autour d'une plateforme régionale dénommée FPAOI(Fédération des Pêcheurs Artisans de l'Océan Indien) regroupant Madagascar, Seychelles, Maurice, Comores et l'Ile de la Réunion. La FPAOI a vu le jour au mois d'octobre 2015, elle a pour objectifs:

-de défendre les intérêts et représenter les pêcheurs artisans de l’océan Indien auprès des instances nationales, internationales, gouvernementales ou non gouvernementales ;

- de veiller à une participation accrue des pêcheurs artisans de l’océan Indien à l’exploitation et à la gestion des ressources halieutiques, y compris les ressources migratrices, qui les concernent ;

- de garantir aux pêcheurs artisans de l’océan Indien des retombées économiques de l’exploitation des ressources marines et continentales ;

- d’agir en faveur du maintien et du développement d’une pêche artisanale durable en océan Indien ;

- de renforcer les capacités des organisations nationales membres.

Grâce à la coopération Régionale, notamment la COI , le FPAOI a actuellement le soutien de plusieurs entités comme la CTA et la Banque Mondiale, et elle sera présente à partir de cette année à la session de la CTOI(Commission Thonière de l'Océan Indien) en tant qu'observateur.

Nicole Franz's picture

Nicole Franz replied:

Excellente nouvelles! Il s'agit d'un example concrete de partenariat des acteurs de la peche artisanale. Et il est tres important que cette organisation participe dans les debats au niveau regionale, notamment dans le context CTOI.

Ivan Martinez-Tovar's picture

Ivan Martinez-Tovar said:

Small-scale communities face great problems when their fish resources are not the "high-value" resources that have a lot of attention. Examples of this can be seen all over the world, while fishers in one community fish lobsters or shrimp under strong regulation, enforcement, and incentives. Other fishers in the same community, targeting locally important resources will face almost no regulation, and market leverage to improve. This normally ends in overexploitation of these resources.

Right assignation, empowerment, and diversification of income activities are some of the opportunities that these fishers can look at. Even when market leverage is lacking, right incentives will increase fishers interest to participate actively in management efforts. Alliances between managers, communities, NGOs, and, others have proved to be effective in this kind of situations. 

Nicole Franz's picture

Nicole Franz replied:

Dear Ivan,

thank you for your comment. It is important to recognize how diverse small-scale fisheries can be, even if located in the same area.

Markets can certainly provide positive incentives as you point out. On the other hand we also have to consider that strong market demand can pose a risk if no stron and efficient fisheries governance system is in place to ensure the sustainable use of the resource.

You refer to alliances between different partners as effective tools for sustainable fisheries also for lower-value species. It would be great to hear from you or others of concrete examples where these alliances have been established and are producing positive results for all!

Hunter Snyder's picture

Hunter Snyder said:

I would like to share some Arctic perspectives concerning Target 14.b. 

  1. What are the challenges faced in your community, country or region, or from the perspective or your organization, in achieving Target 14.b?

The Arctic region is, like other developing areas, are challenged by priveleged market access. In Greenland, small-scale fishers access a limited market through large-scale buyers. Part-government-owned large-scale fish buyers and a government-owned shipping company constrict the supply chain of seafood. A national ban on competition within the shipping sector ensures that all settlements are served throughout the year, and fortifies the control that the shipping company and part-government-owned large-scale fish buyer has over small-scale fishers and fish workers. to address the challenge that Greenland faces in providing increased access to markets would be to increase free trade, invest in more infrastructure, and to dissolve of shipping monopolies, with the caveat that subsidies be provided to shippers to serve remote settlements. Infrastructure limitations in developing areas such as the circumpolar Arctic limit market access, stifle supply chain innovation, and deprive Arctic fishers and world markets of the value of Arctic seafood. Permitting an open shipping market has trade offs, risking guaranteed service to hard-to-reach Arctic regions in exchange for lower shipping costs, and in turn, more competitively priced seafood. 

  1. What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.b?

One of the most important priorities that can be executed for the benefit of the circumpolar Arctic is to maintain a balance of equitable access to marine resources, especially among indigenous peoples of the North, while continuing to augment market access through infrastructure. Doing so could allow small-scale fishers, buyers and their local economies to reap the benefits of global trade. Policy design that considers a thoughtful approach to the history of access to marine resources among people in the North and a recognition of the need to improve shipping would work to achieve Target 14.b at the top of the world. 

Hunter Snyder

Fulbright Fellow, Greenland 

Consulting Author, UN FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Profile for Greenland

PhD Student, Ecology, Evolution, Ecosystems, and Society, Dartmouth College USA

Ratana Chuenpagdee's picture

Ratana Chuenpagdee replied:

Dear Hunter,

Many thanks for bringing up issues about market access in Greenland small-scale fisheries. The remoteness of the place indeed calls for different thinking about how to provide infrastructure and set up market institutions that work best in such context. Then a follow-up question will be how to convince the government to make necessary investment.

Your suggestion on priority actions is an interesting one. Equitable access to market is certainly critical for SSF sustainability. I'm intrigued by your point about historical access. I wonder how this will work in a changing ocean we're facing today. I suppose shipping of goods should be easier to do now than before.

Ratana Chuenpagdee's picture

Ratana Chuenpagdee said:

What a way to start Week 2 of the discussion about SDG 14.b!

General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) - you are certainly doing something very important with the establishment of a permanent Working Group on SSF to coordinate SSF activities, both technical and institutional, in the region. Thanks for sharing your experience. Perhaps you can tell us a bit more about the composition of the Working Group, how it functions and who funds its activities. That way other people can also see if this can also be done in their regions.

We're still looking for more examples of initiatives, especially innovative partnerships, that should be highlighted and promoted at the June conference. If you know of any mechanisms/projects (local or regional) that support SSF to become organized or to engage in partnership with other actors to secure access to resources, to get better prices for their catches, and to gain better market shares, please let us know. The more evidence we have, the better we can leverage for more support of SSF in the implementation of the SDG14.

General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean's picture

General Fisheri... replied:

Hi Ratana! Thanks for your comment. As the GFCM working group on SSF is newly established, and its first meeting will be held later this year, we are still working out some of its details. With that said, as is the case for all GFCM working groups, we aim for full representation of all Mediterranean and Black Sea riparian countries at the meeting. We also aim for participation to include a mix of relevant policy makers, experts, and representatives of SSF organizations. We would, of course, be interested in hearing from others about any experience that they may have in bringing together these different stakeholders in a productive forum. As for funding, the GFCM, as an international organization in the framework of the FAO, has it's own budget which supports these activities.

Ratana Chuenpagdee's picture

Ratana Chuenpagdee replied:

Hi GFCM,

I guess one thing that you have that others don't is funding to support partnership, engagement activities and capacity development, all of which are necessary to secure access to resources and to improve access to markets. Getting the right people at the table, i.e. people with legitimacy, and having a good process to facilitate discussion are certainly key ingredients. Good luck!

General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean's picture

General Fisheri... said:

First of all, we’d like to extend a huge thanks to the forum moderators for this excellent initiative to bring us together and share our experiences and ideas. On behalf of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), the RFMO of the Mediterranean and Black Sea, we would like to share with you some of the challenges for small-scale fisheries in our region and some of the initiatives underway within our organization to address these challenges and, in particular, SDG Target 14.B.

In the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, SSF make up the predominant fishing sector, accounting for 80 percent of the region’s fishing fleet and 60 percent of all on-vessel fishing labour. Although we know this sector is crucial, data limitations in measuring the precise extent and impact of SSF activity mean that it is often undervalued and therefore it risks marginalization in the decision-making process. Recognizing its importance, our members have been calling for stronger actions to address these challenges in order to support SSF and ensure the sustainability of livelihoods from this sector.

In response to this call, the GFCM has organized two major regional conferences to build knowledge on SSF activities, assess priorities, and steer strategic actions to support the sector:

Furthermore, in 2016, the GFCM adopted the “Mid-term strategy (2017-2020) towards the sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries”. This strategy seeks to meet international commitments, including those set forth in SDG 14, through the development of tailor-made actions that take into account the specific needs of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Indeed, through this strategy, the GFCM is the first RFMO to present a strategic initiative to specifically address the SDGs.

Of the strategy’s five targets, target 2 focuses on SSF. This target sets out a plan of action to meet the obligations of SDG target 14.B, while also seeking to implement the SSF Guidelines and address the region’s specific challenges by putting into action the conclusions of the regional conference on SSF.

In particular, target 2 of the strategy includes knowledge building activities, such as the completion of a regional survey, and activities to integrate SSF into the decision-making process, such as the establishment of a regional platform to engage SSF organizations and promote regional dialogue. Through these activities, we hope to gain a better idea of the role of SSF in our region and also build a mechanism for meaningful collaboration between fishers and decision-makers.

Also included within the mid-term strategy, and adopted by the GFCM at its session in 2016, is the establishment of a permanent Working Group on SSF to coordinate SSF activities, both technical and institutional, in the region. This working group will therefore serve as the mechanism to monitor the implementation of SDG target 14.B and the SSF Guidelines in the region, while also addressing ad hoc needs of the region.

Jose Pascual-Fernandez's picture

Jose Pascual-Fe... said:

Thanks to the forum moderators for helping this forum to happen.
Small-scale fishers (SSF) in the Canary Islands, Spain and other areas of Europe are facing a diversity of problems for accessing the marine resources and markets, although those difficulties are not the same everywhere. In relation to resources, we can state how, in some cases, resources are transferred from small-scale fishers in favour of large scale ones. A case in point is how the fishery of red tuna in Spain is almost under control, in-fact, of two large companies based in the Mediterranean. At the same time, hundreds of small boats share a minor percentage of the catches, as happens in the Canary Islands. This is related to how the State is governing about access rights, and small-scale fishers need to be taken more into account in these decision-making processes. Similar issues happen in some northern countries where the ITQs or similar arrangements have forced too many small-scale fishers out of business in the last decades, one way or another. In this arena, an adequate implementation of SSF voluntary guidelines may help to preserve access rights for small-scale fishers and to achieve SDG14b.
Not all risks come from large-scale fisheries. Coastal or marine tourism development may impact strongly on fishing communities. Similar problems may be related to recreational fisheries, which have been increasing lately, both in numbers and catches in some areas like the Canary Islands. Climate change is also affecting many coastal areas, and some coastal zones of the Canary Islands are suffering from this challenge.
However, not all the scenarios are dark, and we can also find cases where fishers have developed successful strategies to take control of their resources, getting the support of the state for this purpose. For instance, small-scale fishers in some islands as Fuerteventura have requested gear restrictions to make fishery sustainable, and governments have supported the idea with regulations to implement the restrictions. In other cases, marine reserves of fishing interest (like the one in El Hierro, Canary Islands) have been created with the impulse of local fishers, with a design that favours sustainable fishery in the area and strong support from the state. This reserve has not only increased the catches in the area but also secured the generation of synergies with other marine activities, like scuba diving.
In this sense, securing access is a key element, and providing better access to markets is no less important. Too frequently, local small-scale catches are undifferentiated in the market vs the catches of large-scale fleets or aquaculture, which is misleading for consumers and a disaster for SSF. In this realm, we can also find many conflicts and some success cases, as happens in Conil (Andalusia, Spain), where they have been effective in developing a collective labelling strategy that is widely recognised in the region, providing more secure access to markets and better prices for SSF fishers.
All these success cases have something in common: strong organizations of small-scale fishers supporting the processes. In this sense, perhaps one of the main challenges for small-scale fishers is how to develop organizations capable of coping with the current and diverse challenges they face. It is not an easy task, and frequently too dependent on specific leaderships. Supporting the development of organizations and leaderships is one of the pending tasks. Governments may contribute to this endeavour, as happened with the Galician shellfisher women on-foot in the 1990s, when shell-fisher organizations were created with the help of the regional government. Since that moment on, these shellfisher women have developed a successful management system in collaboration with biologist and the regional government. Other actors may help, and we can find how NGOs or scientists are contributing to this task in some cases. Some partnerships have been developed and many more would be welcomed.
Traditionally, small-scale fishers have had some limitations in scaling-up their organizations. That had been the case in Europe for long time. However, since a few years ago organizations such as Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE) have demonstrated that, with adequate support and management, fishers’ voices can be heard in many countries around Europe, and also in Brussels at the level of the European Union. Perhaps this is one of the most interesting partnerships in European small-scale fisheries.

Ratana Chuenpagdee's picture

Ratana Chuenpagdee replied:

Dear Jose,

Thank you for sharing with us your experience from Canary Islands and other parts of Spain. Your stories reiterate the point that issues and challenges facing SSF are not unique to the Global South. It is also very nice to hear positive examples of how small-scale fishers overcome challenges by becoming organized. The story about the women shellfish gatherers is likely to resonate with many other cases where women play critical role in various aspects of the fish chain (from pre-harvest, harvest to post-harvest). The importance of SSF organizations is well recognized in the SSF Guidelines and it is imperative that governments take actions to support these organizations and to provide enabling conditions for them to succeed. 

Perhaps the follow-up question is what needs to be done to get the governments to do the right thing!

Vivienne Solis Rivera's picture

Vivienne Solis ... said:

The implementation of the SSF voluntary guidelines approved in the COFI meeting in 2014 are certainly a huge challenge worldwide. The implementation of this instrument with the leadership of the fishing organizations and other supporters is crucial and urgent. Sharing and learning in how the implementation of this instrument is happening around the world is crucial for the effective action towards this target.

Nicole Franz's picture

Nicole Franz replied:

Dear Vivienne,

thank you for sharing your thoughts. I certainly agree that the implementation of the SSF Guidelines is a huge challenge - but you also rightly point out that it can be an important tool for all to work towards achieving SDG14b, in particular considering that these guidelines have been negotiated and endorsed by the members of COFI. Already a lot is happening around the world, so it would in fact be important to gather and share those lessons for the benefit of small-scale fisheries all over the world.

Vivienne Solis Rivera's picture

Vivienne Solis ... replied:

Dear Nicole: I certainly believe that the SDG 14 is a great opportunity to advance towards oceans sustainable use, even though I believe that we should make sure they do not omit " the rights of small scale fishers to access". We need to make sure that the zero draft and the other documents coming out of these meeting in June are able to bring in the idea of a needed support for small-scale fishing communities to participate in and take responsibility for, integrated management of small scale fisheries, based on the recognition and protection of access rights to these communities. If these does not happen, I am afraid that the SDG 14 will be only a good intention document. SDG 14 b clearly indicates this issue as an indicator but for me this is much clearer in the guidelines where fishers themselves where able to state the importance for recognition of these rights. We need to bring the terminology and practical experience to the SDG 14 process now. The table is set.

Sarah Poon's picture

Sarah Poon said:

Small-scale fisheries are an essential source of food, income and employment for many communities around the world. In the face of a growing global population and unprecedented threats to ocean ecosystems, sustainable fisheries management is critical. Yet many small-scale fisheries are poorly managed, or not managed at all. And many remain open access, which leaves communities’ fishing grounds open to overexploitation by local and/or non-local actors. Overexploitation of fisheries threatens the livelihoods of millions of the most marginalized people around the world.

To protect small-scale fishers’ access to marine resources, we must empower them to secure rights to their fisheries and to participate in decision making to drive sustainable management. States can promote sustainable small-scale fisheries by working with fishers and other stakeholders to define and allocate fishing rights in an appropriate way, based on the goals and interests of fishers and their communities, in accordance with the SSF Guidelines, and drawing from global lessons learned from experiences with rights-based fisheries management.

 As the SSF Guidelines emphasize, participatory processes must be established and/or strengthened to ensure stakeholders can co-create management systems that will work in the local context to promote the long-term sustainability of the fishery.

Partnerships between governments, fishing communities, CSOs, NGOs, academic institutions, and others are valuable for bringing together diverse perspectives and skills to design and implement effective fishery management systems. Such partnerships can be helpful for engaging stakeholders in participatory decision making; providing appropriate scientific tools and management advice; supporting research, monitoring and communication; strengthening capacity; and other support to ensure management systems protect small-scale fishers’ long-term access to the resources they depend on.

Ratana Chuenpagdee's picture

Ratana Chuenpagdee replied:

Dear Sarah,

Many thanks for your comments, and for emphasizing the role of government, as well as other stakeholders in co-creating management systems through a partnership process. The challenge in realizing this is still paramount, even though it sounds logical and sensible. One must wonder why?!? Some argue that it is because of power dynamics, while some suggest that it is due to the lack of mechanisms and enabling conditions. Most likely, it's a combination of both. 

Perhaps there's room for innovation! If industrial fisheries can partner with ENGOs to achieve conservation (e.g. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2012/03/environmentalists-and-bottom-trawl-industry-develop-innovative-measures-to-impro/), 

what could be some 'strange bedfellows' for small-scale fisheries?

Sarah Poon's picture

Sarah Poon replied:

Thanks for the response Ratana. I certainly agree that there are many barriers to creating strong partnerships that can foster participatory co-management. One challenge that stands out is my mind is resistance to change (and even for those who seek change, they often confront institutional barriers to change). This is one reason why it is so important to tell stories about partnerships that have worked to generate positive outcomes—to show people that change is not only possible, but worthwhile. For example, the the Belize Fisheries Department, with support from Environmental Defense Fund and Wildlife Conservation Society, spearheaded a coalition of government, fishing communities and non-governmental organizations to create a new national fisheries management system, called Managed Access. Under this system, fishermen and women are empowered to control their own future through licenses giving them access to fish in two of eight specific geographic areas—or Territorial Use Rights for Fishing (TURFs)—of the fishery, and responsibilities to help manage the areas and observe regulations. (You can read more about Managed Access and the strong partnership that led to its adoption here). Despite the challenges of setting up such multi-stakeholder partnerships, we are seeing a lot of progress, and I am optimistic that they will become the norm for fisheries management in the future.

Nicole Franz's picture

Nicole Franz said:

Dear Sergio - and all other contributors so far,

Thanks for sharing your views! You all raise important points in relation to the the challenges that small-scale fisheries are facing.

Sergio mentions complexity in his first sentence - and this certainly a very important feature of small-scale fisheries. A better understanding of the sector is indeed crucial to ensure that needs - as well as potential - are properly understood and supported through public policies.

It would be great to hear more about 'what works', including innovative partenerships - or what type of partnerships at all levels would be needed to promote effective action in support of sustainable small-scale fisheries, in particular in relation to access to resources and to markets!

Sérgio Mattos's picture

Sérgio Mattos replied:

Dear Nicole,

Thank you for pushing us. This is the idea, so far.

In Brazil nor we can say that we know about fisheries, neither that we don't know. Huge country, many ecosystems, cultures, technologies, social gaps, and a paramount challence to join and work together. Generally speaking, public policies always described existing national request, supported by existing knowledge, but little answered to and asked for local demands. Reason why still facing problems of implementation rather than construction of public policies. Make that a public policy, even with national scope, reach the most distant fisher is a challenge worth trying.

The same could be true when talking about colaborative work, or 'what works' for small-scale fisheries in Brazil. Colaboration, and consequently co-working, is something the fall into a rethoric: everybody believes, but few applies. In todays governmental level, nobody belives, nobody applies, but still a rethoric. But everything is not a nightmare, once fishers themselves, fishers representative, NGOs, academia, researchers, and public state agents (in Brazil a government agent is a public state agent who holds a position in a governmental institution, generally within an ideological political line) are seating together, without governmental intervention, aiming at discussing real world problems in SSF and moving forward into policies that answers fishers needs, such as fishing territorial rights. Although once a public policy, now is one of their main goal. In recognising such an effective action and acknowledging that fishers must lead the process, many academic and non-academic forums worked together in creating a web to join paradigms, insights and discoveries, for the benefit of small-scale fisheries. I hope.

Sérgio Mattos's picture

Sérgio Mattos said:

The social, technological and ecological complexities found in small-scale fishing communities in Brazil still pose a challenge to integrate knowledge about the sector and hamper the enforcement of management measures, generally due to lack of data and information on these fisheries. As a result the established public policies are often disconnected with the sector’s local, regional and national dynamics. Furthermore, legitimacy and representativeness of small-scale fish workers in such institutional and legal frameworks increase challenges for the implementation of public policies and for the establishment of a management system capable of encompassing the diversity of small-scale fisheries.

Challenges always persist in social, economic and environmental dimensions of the fishing sector, as well issues as gender equity, and culture and knowledge, and although seems straightforward to face understandings of geopolitical and regional complexities and diversities, these need to be incorporated for fisheries management. So, to effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) and destructive fishing practices (Target 14.4); to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, that contribute to IUU fishing (Target 14.6); and provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets (Target 14.b); is imperative to understand that a frail and ineffective implementation of small-scale fisheries (SSF) public policy seems to be related to a weak institutional and legal frameworks arrangement, affecting social and ecological sustainability of fishing communities in developing countries such as Brazil.

The demands from organized civil society that extol the need for democratic actions and efforts of articulation and dialogue for the construction of public policies that recognize the peculiarities and particularities of the artisanal fishing activity, and of its involved stakeholders, are not recent. The need still rests on the importance of strengthening participatory management and governance processes, and the defense of broad involvement in the discussions of all segments involved.

For economic and social cohesion, it is necessary the audacity to decentralize some responsibilities for fisheries management, enabling a flow of information necessary to provide quick and effective responses to local and urgent situations, strengthening local organizations and guaranteeing quality of life and social well-being. We are talking about a plural activity, throughout its value chain, which requires a differential look and strong actions to minimize the perverse effects of historical marginalization, to strengthen the implementation of public policies, and to minimize conflicts, since small-scale fisheries is an important part of an economic sector that needs a holistic view, for farther actions through intrinsic specificities on the existing social, cultural and technological diversity.

The moment, therefore, is to create the necessary spaces for the discussion of the regulatory framework generated by the lack of clear and transparent instruments, a global and consensual understanding for fishing regulation, as well as definition of the institutionalism that will operate and implement any public policy for the sector, since the basic principle for planning institutionalization lies in the simplification of the management instruments and the legal and institutional framework. Nor is it recognized that any political agent is able to coordinate this process. Recent practice has shown that primary economic sectors, as fishing, requires command and execution teams of "eminently technical" profile, with political reading in a worldwide context, but never a "just political" profile, as many have advocated.

The eminently political ideology that plagued the public administration, in dealing with this and other closely related segments, weakened the organizational structures, with repercussion in the elaboration and implementation of public policies and, obviously, weakening the Government and the democratic state of law.

Maria Jose Barragan-Paladines's picture

Maria Jose Barr... said:

Dear forum moderators: congratulations and thanks for this great initiative to put the voices of some actors, interested in fisheries sustainability, together!

First, I trully believe that any effort to highlight the close connection between the "below" and "above" water dimensions implicit on the 14.b target is of extreme help. In fact the disconnection of both, the terrestrial and marine realms where fisheries take place, is partly responsible for the unawareness of the large complexity that challlenges to this sector entitle. My reflections to the leading questions underneath:

1. What are the challenges faced in your community, country or region, or from the perspective or your organization, in achieving Target 14.b?

Ecuador is one of the 25 major producers of the marine fisheries captures (SOFIA 2016). At the same time, Ecuador ahs been recognized as one of the 50 countries with higher vulnerability to climate change, ocean acidification and food insecurity ( Muir 2013, Huelsenbeck OCEANA 2012).This apparent paradox shows the risk implicit in the assumption that food security can be addressed by only looking at food quantity and thus availability. I found one of the biggest challenge to achieve the SDG 14.b target to be the disconnection between fish supply for the global markets, and the fish availability/affodability and access for fishers' own consumtption. 

Additionally, the food insecurity terrestrialized notion also affects a broader and more comprehensive understanding (recongition) of fish as a potential ally in the hunger and malnutrition problem, globally.

2.     What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.b?

There are many priority actions needed at varied scales, within the access to marine resources by fishing communities:

a. The "de-terrestrialization" of the notion of food-security, that would imply the recognition of fish, small-scale fishing activities, and fishing commnities great role, in alleviating the food insecurity challenge, at both local and national scale, within a global context. Food security lenses needs to go beyond the soils, seeds, droughts, and crops concets, and look at the sea, and at the shore, as well.

b. The recognition that food security/insecurity is not only a problem of the "so-called" developing (Global South) countries. In fact issues of food insecurity and malnutrition can also be witnessed on some areas of the Global North, as well and this should also be paid attention when small-scale fishers access to marine resources and markets are addressed.

c. Different perspectives are needed to tackle the access of small-scale fishers to marine resource and markets. By paying attention to the global and national scales implicit in the markets dynamics also requires a better understanding of the household and individual role, in the access to those resources.

3. innovative partnerships.....

Concerning this question, I am still trying to systematically identify and illustrate those cases. Hopefully my research development will provide abundant evidence of such cases!

Thanks!

Ratana Chuenpagdee's picture

Ratana Chuenpagdee replied:

Dear Maria Jose,

Indeed, the disconnection between life above and below water has detrimental effects on the whole ecosystem. Small-scale fishing people are obviously very close to life below the water and we can do more to draw from their knowledge and experience in managing the fisheries.

Thank you for highlighting the vulnerability of fisheries in Ecuador. While food security goes beyond availability and accessibility to include other aspects like food quality and stability of supply, there’s tendency to look only at the first couple of dimensions. More attention on how to improve markets and market access, and incorporating what you suggested about global/national/local dynamics, will certainly be useful.

Alicia Said's picture

Alicia Said said:

Thanks for organizing this e-panel, which I believe is very important when considering that small-scale fisheries encompass millions of livelihoods around the world. I am looking forward to reading the different stories and learn about the experiences of those involved in the small-scale fishing sector all over the world such that we can collectively voice the need of securing the sustainability of small-scale fisheries. Here is a succinct story of the Maltese fishing sector and what I believe should be the priority actions to make small-scale fisheries sustainable:

The fishing sector in Malta has always been one of a small-scale nature with a long history of fishers engaging in traditional small-scale fishing practices, however, the fishing communities are slowly disappearing as a result of major shifts in the fisheries policies.  With the industrialization of the Bluefin tuna fishery and the increase in the number of industrial trawlers, the fishing fleet and fisheries resources are increasingly becoming concentrated into fewer hands, and inevitably, small-scale fishers are facing multi-faceted deprivation.  In other words, the corporate growth within the fishing sector, a process which has been supported by the national governing system, is adversely affecting the resilience of the small-scale fleet. As a result, fishers are now enduring constant struggles to retain their livelihoods, and feel incapable of changing their destiny. They have become overly fragmented and disempowered to an extent that they are unable to engage in collective action to revert their situation.  

In this regard, I would say that the biggest challenge, and potentially, the only hope for the sustainability of the small-scale fleet, is to get the fishers organized and empowered to become more involved in securing their livelihoods through transparent decision-making. This trajectory, which ought to be embedded in good governance principles, would ease the ongoing crisis of inequity, distributive injustice, and marginalization in a way that safeguards the continuation of the small-scale fishing communities. The starting point for this could be the implementation of the FAO SSF Guidelines for these provide the right guidance upon which the rejuvenation of the small-scale fisheries can take shape.

Ratana Chuenpagdee's picture

Ratana Chuenpagdee replied:

Many thanks, Alicia, for providing us a great example from Malta, with vivid details about what small-scale fisheries communities are going through. I won’t be surprised if similar things are happing in other places as well. We always hear stories about how small-scale fisheries are being displaced, due for the most part to policy and regulatory changes, which restrict their access to the resources and affect their ability to have viable livelihoods. Other factors add to the challenges, including globalized markets and environmental variability. Considering too that many small-scale fisheries are already marginalized (geographically, economically and politically), there is certainly an urgent need to do something to rectify the situation.

I agree with your suggestion about the need for small-scale fishers to be more organized and empowered to participate in decision-making. But proper mechanisms are required to enable that, taking into consideration that the particular conditions that small-scale fishing people are in. I was reminded the other day how small-scale fishers are already doing a lot, from catching the fish, to processing and selling the catches, repairing gears, etc. Won’t it be nice if the governments were to do a good job at managing the fisheries, by following the principles outlined in the SSF Guidelines, so that we don’t have to bother small-scale fishing people too much?

Ratana Chuenpagdee's picture

Ratana Chuenpagdee said:

Welcome to the online forum on Partnership Dialogue 4, "Making Fisheries Sustainable," in advance of the SDG-14 Ocean Conference that will take place in June of this year. We are very pleased to be moderating this discussion and look forward to hearing from you - governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, international financial institutions, NGOs, civil society organizations, academic institutions, the scientific community, private sector, philanthropic organizations and other stakeholders.

In particular, we're interested in receiving contributions on how the global community can achieve Target 14.b: Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.

To help guide and structure the conversation we've proposed the following three questions:

1.     What are the challenges faced in your community, country or region, or from the perspective or your organization, in achieving Target 14.b?

2.     What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.b?

3.     Please share below any innovative partnerships aimed at achieving Targets 14.b - existing or proposed - that you are aware of or involved in that can be highlighted at the June Ocean Conference and can advance effective actions from local to global levels.

This forum will remain open until 7 April. Summaries of the responses will be compiled at the end of the discussion period and posted on the platform.

Your voice matters!  Make it count as the global community converges in June 2017 to commit to action to realize Sustainable Development Goal 14 to sustain Life Below Water for us and our future generations!

But of course, Target 14.b is very much about "Life Above Water." So let's discuss what we need to do to sustain both!