Applying coherently the human rights-based approach to small-scale fisheries for achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals

First joint policy brief by FAO, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) , and the Hub on small-scale fishers’ human rights

“Small-scale fisheries operate in inland and marine waters, providing nutritious food, income, jobs, and a social and cultural identity for millions of coastal and rural communities around the globe. Small-scale fishers represent more than 90 percent of the capture fisheries workforce globally, about half of which are women (FAO, 2022a). While progress has been made to improve small-scale fisheries’ sustainability, small-scale fishers continue to face marginalization, climate change vulnerability, discrimination, insecure land tenure, and access to water and marine resources. Lack of access to health care, education, social protection, adequate food and nutrition, and abusive and exploitative working conditions are some of the daily realities of fishers, fishworkers, and their communities (OHCHR, 2022). The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) (FAO, 2015), adopted in 2014 by consensus of Member States of the Committee on Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), recognize the need to uphold small-scale fishers’ human rights.

The message in the SSF Guidelines is clear: their objectives1 should be achieved through the promotion of a human rights-based approach, by empowering small-scale fishing communities, including both men and women, to participate in decision-making processes, and to assume responsibilities for sustainable use of fishery resources. This should also support placing emphasis on the needs of developing countries and the benefit of vulnerable and marginalized groups…”