About the Working Group


    Since the “Global Conference on Small-Scale Fisheries – Securing Sustainable Small- Scale Fisheries: Bringing together responsible fisheries and social development”, held in 2008 in Bangkok by WorldFish, the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers (WFF) and World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), with the support of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) were asking to include a specific chapter in the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) on small-scale fisheries, recognising the obligations of States towards them and creating the environment for fishing communities to fully enjoy these rights.

    The IPC Working Group on Fisheries, coordinated by WFF and WFFP, organized around 25 national and regional consultations with small-scale fisheries organizations on the development of the SSF Guidelines in Central America, Africa, South Asia, and South-East Asia.

    In 2014, the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of the FAO endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF-Guidelines). The IPC Working Group on Fisheries played a crucial role in their technical negotiations. The SSF-Guidelines are deeply anchored in human rights and in a holistic integrated approach, explicitly prioritizing marginalized groups and gender equality.

    As stated in the 2016 COFI report, the Committee welcomed the development of an FAO SSF Umbrella Programme and agreed on the need for a complementary mechanism in the form of an SSF Guidelines Global Strategic Framework (SSF-GSF) to be developed with the full and effective participation of all regions and in consultation with all small-scale fisheries stakeholders.


    Cairo Laguna – WFF, Nicaragua

    Christiana Louwa – WFFP, Kenya

    Editrudith Lukanga – WFF, Tanzania

    Margaret Nakato – WFF, Uganda

    Marthin Hadiwinata – WFFP, Indonesia

    Naseegh Jaffer – WFFP, South Africa


    Centro Internazionale Crocevia, acting as IPC International Secretariat, together with the Transnational Institute (TNI) and FIAN International are responsible for the facilitation of the Working Group: contacts with other NGOs, Governments or institutions; logistics; advocacy and lobbying in Rome.


    The IPC Working Group organizes internal meetings, workshops, trainings and consultations on different issues. These meetings are fundamental to: build the capacities of the grassroots  organizations; receive feedbacks from the ground; raise the awareness on global issues and negotiations; strengthen the struggles at national and regional levels; raise the voice of small scale producers to the decision-making spaces; strengthen the exchange from farmer to farmer from the North to the South and from the East to the West.


    > The FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI)

    The FAO Committee on Fisheries is the only global inter-governmental forum where major international fisheries and aquaculture problems and issues are examined and recommendations addressed to governments, regional fishery bodies, NGOs, fishworkers, FAO and the international community, periodically on a world-wide basis. The next COFI is scheduled for July 2020 in Rome.

    Click here to access the report of COFI 2018

    > The Global Strategic Framework in support of the implementation of the SSF-Guidelines (SSF-GSF)

    The organizations of the IPC Fisheries Working Group are part of the Advisory Group of the SFF-GSF (AG), along with IFAD and OHCHR. The role of the AG is to raise awareness on the SSF Guidelines and promote a human rights-based approach, give inputs on the implementation of the Guidelines at the national level, as well defining the criteria for its monitoring through a participatory process.

    Click here to access the SSF-GSF structure

    The members of the Advisory Group are:

    • Alex Castillo, LVC, Nicaragua
    • Cairo Laguna, WFF, Nicaragua
    • Chief Gary Harrison, IITC, USA
    • Editrudith Lukanga, WFF, Tanzania
    • Marthin Hadiwinata, WFFP, Indonesia
    • Naseegh Jaffer, WFFP, South Africa

    Click here to access the COFI update on the implementation of the SSF-GSF

    > The UN International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA)

    2022 is going to be the UN International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, an important occasion to highlight the critical role of small-scale fisheries in the context of food sovereignty and environmental defence, as well as the many threats they are facing. IYAFA will be therefore an opportunity to put forward the SSF Guidelines and the need for their comprehensive implementation. The IPC Fisheries WG will engage with FAO to give thematic inputs and organize regional events of awareness rising.

    > Susatainable Development Goal 14

    SDG 14 focus on the conservation and the sustainability of the oceans, an objective that cannot be achieved without the participation and the active protection of the small-scale fisheries communities.  In particular, the Indicator 14.b.1 is entirely dedicated to the necessity of an appropriate application of a legal / regulatory / policy /institutional framework which recognizes and protects access rights for small-scale fisheries, of which the SSF-Guidelines represent the most important international instrument.

    > The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

    > The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) of the FAO.

    > The Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

    Main Issues

    > Marine genetic resources

    Small-scale fisheries face many threats: industrial and destructive fishing practices, climate change, water contamination caused by mining, the proliferation of invasive species, large-scale infrastructure development, violence and persecution, water grabbing, privatization and exclusion of the natural resources on which they depend. Freshwaters and lakes (such as Atitlan, Guatemala) are affected to varying degrees by pollution that affects reproduction and causes genetic mutations. Women fishers, youth and indigenous peoples continue to be marginalized and struggle to participate meaningfully in policies for the sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems and to adapt their livelihoods and preserve their traditional cultures and skills, with all the socio-economic impacts associated with these major disruptions. (in collaboration with the IPC Working Group on Agriculture Biodiversity)


    > Blue economy

    Seen as the formula for combining food production, environmental protection and economic gain, the so-called “Blue economy” refers to a series of economic practices that try to integrate the exploitation of natural resources with the preservation of the local ecosystems. Nevertheless, this solution fail to address the main problems related to the capitalistic management of the maritime resources, feeding the illusion of a green – blue in the present case – growth. Moreover, the development of this economic paradigm, and the practices it contains, has been done without the participation, or even the consultation, of the small-scale fisheries communities. Their ancestral knowledge is not valorized, nor are their traditions and their spiritual link with the ecosystems they are part of, both sacrificed to the altar of the economic gain.


    > Ocean grabbing

    Defined by former UN Special Rapporteur for Right to Food Olivier De Schutter as a set of practices regrouping access agreements that harm small-scale fishers, unreported catch, incursions into protected waters, and the diversion of resources away from local populations, ocean grabbing is a major threat to our oceans. If unchallenged, it could lead to the significant impoverishment of the fishing reserves and the destructions of ecosystems. Small-scale fisheries communities are particularly affected, as they have to face international agreements systematically diminishing their exclusive fishing areas, compromising their survival and the culture that goes with it. The effects are not limited to the catch itself, as the also affect the complex and rooted post-harvest value chain that develops along the community, and in which women play a crucial role.


    > Aquaculture

    In the last decades, aquaculture has become the main source of aquatic food. This practice can also be found among local communities, yet it is with the development of the fisheries industrial sector that aquaculture has become an intensive breeding system. If carried out on a large scale and capital-intensive perspective, the result could be the exclusion of the small-scale fisheries from the market. Moreover, the nutrients needed for the intensive aquaculture are the result of intensive fishing or intensive GMO’s agriculture such in the case of soya, colza and sunflower.


    > Inland fisheries

    Too often neglected in the international discussions, the internal waters fisheries provide work more than 60 million people and nutrition for their communities. Most of the internal waters fishery is located in developing countries, while its totality is practices through artisanal methods. Yet, despite his significant importance in certain regions, the effects of land grabbing and the direct and indirect pollution of the waters by extractive and industrial practices seriously endanger this kind of fishery.

    2018, Trinidad de Cuba (Cuba), Temple of Yemayá, Orsiha of the sea. Credits: Emanuele Lucci
    2017, Puerto Lopez (Ecuador), Small-scale fisheries. Credits: Annagrazia Graduato
    2020, Inle Lake (Myanmar), Women in post-harvest activities. Credits: Viola Taormina

    Events and activities

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