Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small Fisheries
The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (the SSF Guidelines) is the first internationally agreed instrument dedicated entirely to the immensely important – but until now often neglected – small-scale fisheries sector. The small-scale fisheries sector tends to be firmly rooted in local communities, traditions and values.
Many small-scale fishers are self-employed and usually provide fish for direct consumption within their households or communities. Women are significant participants in the sector, particularly in postharvest and processing activities. It is estimated that about 90 percent of all people directly dependent on capture fisheries work in the small-scale fisheries sector. As such, small-scale fisheries serve as an economic and social engine, providing food and nutrition security, employment and other multiplier effects to local economies while underpinning the livelihoods of riparian communities.
The SSF Guidelines are long overdue because of the need for an international instrument that provides consensus principles and guidance on addressing small-scale fisheries. The SSF Guidelines complement the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which, alongside the fishing provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, is the most widely recognized and implemented international fisheries instrument. The SSF Guidelines are also closely related to the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forestry in the Context of National Food Security, the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security, and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems. Like these instruments, the SSF Guidelines place a high priority on the realization of human rights and on the need to attend to vulnerable and marginalized groups.