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IFAD’s global engagement with small-scale fisheries on the rise

Posted by Tomás Donnelly Monday, August 6, 2012

Plenary session at 30th session of the Committee on
Fisheries, held 9-13 July at FAO, updated participants on new
guidelines for small-scale fisheries. © IFAD/Tomás Donnelly
This autumn, IFAD’s engagement with small-scale fisheries will increase through a series of national consultations involving fishers around the world. Recommendations from the fishers and other relevant stakeholders will feed into the development of the FAO-administered International Guidelines for Securing Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF-GL).

The countries selected for the consultations are familiar to IFAD, as there are on-going fisheries projects in all of them. Besides contributing to SSF-GL, we hope the recommendations will benefit existing IFAD projects and provide input into the design of future projects benefiting small-scale fishers. The recommendations are also valuable inputs to the respective ministries that work with small-scale fisheries in different countries.

IFAD’s consultation activities have been generously supported by supplementary funds from the Finnish Government. They arise from deliberations at the Farmers’ Forum earlier this year. At that time, IFAD agreed to back the development and implementation of SSF-GL, and to hold another session on small-scale fisheries at the next Farmers’ Forum.

Consultations in Mozambique

The first country in which the IFAD consultations will take place is Mozambique. Our local partner there, the National Institute for the Development of Small-Scale Fisheries, is now distributing invitations and discussion material to small-scale fisher cooperatives and others working in the value chain as part of the IFAD supported Artisanal Fisheries Promotion Project, or ProPESCA.

National representatives at 30th session of the
Committee on Fisheries highlight IFAD’s role in
 developing new guidelines for fisheries. © FAO 
The process will be divided into two parts. The first meeting will take place from 6-7 September in the centrally located city of Beira, with all participants invited to discuss SSF-GL, raise issues and make recommendations. Then on 13 September, selected participants will meet with representatives of the Ministry of Fisheries to present the recommendations, discuss their feasibility and suggest appropriate actions. When a final document is agreed upon, it will be sent to FAO as Mozambique’s contribution to the development of SSF-GL.

Although this will be IFAD’s first time organising such consultations, we are well prepared. We will be recruiting a resource person from the South African fish worker organisation Masifundise to help organise and run the meetings. Masifundise is a member of the international consortium of civil society organisations that has been organising SSF-GL national consultations worldwide in the past year.

Why small-scale fishers?

Even though over half of the world’s fishers can be considered small-scale, in many countries they have not been recognised for their role in ensuring food security and protecting marine and inland water ecosystems. As a result, they have largely been unable to participate in decision-making on issues involving their livelihood.

IFAD supports the SSF-GL consultation process and the development of the guidelines because the profile of the small-scale fisher fits in with IFAD’s objective of enabling poor rural people to overcome poverty. Normally located in rural and impoverished areas, these fishers are often the poorest people in their communities – exactly the type of population that IFAD aims to support.