COFI Agenda Item 5.1. Statement on behalf of World Forum of Fisher People, the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers, the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers and the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty

Thank you Chair

On behalf of the World Forum of Fisher People, the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers, the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers and the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty we would like to congratulate COFI 31 for adopting the Voluntary Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small Scale Fisheries in the context of food security and poverty alleviation.

Despite their importance for local economic and social development, and for food and livelihood security, this is the first international instrument that deals specifically with the small scale fisheries sector all through the value chain. The significance of this instrument can’t be overestimated. This is a historic moment for small-scale fisheries.

A participatory approach with specific reference to women, equitable distribution of benefits from the responsible management of fisheries and the ecosystems are fundamental objectives to be achieved.

The Guidelines are comprehensive and deal, in one instrument, with all significant aspects of small-scale fisheries and fishing communities within a human rights perspective. These Guidelines will support the visibility, recognition and enhancement of small-scale fisheries and fishing communities in the context of eradicating hunger and poverty. The Guidelines will also significantly contribute to effectively addressing numerous challenges and constraints facing small-scale fishing communities around the world. They will address the social, economic and cultural needs of small-scale fishing communities, and will also assist fishing communities to engage in meaningful dialogue/negotiations with the State and other sectors towards securing access to their living and livelihood space and in protecting this space from various threats.

However, the challenges we now face to implement the Guidelines, to give full effect to their recommendations, are considerable.

Mr Chair, the Guidelines have been developed through a participatory and consultative process, involving representatives of small-scale fishing communities, indigenous people, civil society organizations (CSOs), governments, regional organizations and other stakeholders. We hope their implementation will be similarly participatory, consultative and inclusive.


For the Guidelines to be put into practice national legal reforms are called for to make legislation on a par with standards for human rights, responsible fisheries and sustainable development.


Where poverty exists in small-scale fishing communities, it is of a multidimensional nature and is not only caused by low incomes but also due to factors that impede full enjoyment of human rights including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Poverty, and the denial of human rights undermines sustainability. The full realization of the human rights of fishing communities, as envisaged by these Guidelines, will lead to sustainable utilization, prudent and responsible management and conservation of fishery resources, consistent with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.


Sustaining fisheries resources is the basis of social and cultural wellbeing, livelihoods and sustainable development.


Most importantly the Guidelines give visibility and recognition to the rights of women and to the important role they play throughout the fisheries value chain. Without their engagement, fisheries would not be viable. Putting the Guidelines into practice will help to preserve their space, and enable them to participate fully in the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods.


The Guidelines will help states to pursue inclusive non-discriminatory and sound economic policies for the use of marine, freshwater and land areas to permit small scale fishing communities to earn a fair return from their labour, capital and management. Such policies will also assist us to better understand, recognize and respect the roles of migrant fishers and fishworkers in small-scale fisheries.


The implementation of the Guidelines will lead to the preferential treatment of indigenous people and vulnerable and marginalized groups. They will help to eliminate forced labour in fisheries, prevent debt bondage of women, men and children, provide decent employment of youth, improved sea safety including occupational health and safety, and the wellbeing of children including their education.

Mr Chair, to end our intervention, I would like to inform you that our platform will be organizing a side event at lunch time in the Green Room on the first floor of this building. The theme will be the implementation of the Guidelines, towards securing recognition, protection and promotion of small-scale fisheries at national and international level. It will be an opportunity to share plans and strategies for future.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial