FAO International Symposium on Fisheries Sustainability held in Rome, Nov 2019

The symposium aimed to identify pathways to strengthen the science and policy interplay in fisheries production, management and trade, based on solid sustainability principles for improved global outcomes on the ground. The debates and conclusions of the symposium will facilitate pathway towards the development of a new vision of how we perceive and use capture fisheries, outlining how the sector can respond to the complex and rapidly changing challenges facing society, and support the planning process of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

The expected outcomes of the symposium:

  • Develop and articulate a new vision for fisheries’ sustainability in the 21st century
  • Promote strategies for synergistic actions and supportive policies, at all levels, to promote sustainable fisheries while meeting international commitments
  • Reinforce commitments to the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its associated instruments, leading to new FAO partnerships
  • Assist countries at COFI 34 as they debate and consider a new COFI Sub-Committee on Fisheries Management
  • Provide input to the planning process of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to join efforts, in moving towards an Ocean We Need for the Future We Want

Keywords across symposium sessions


All photos ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti

Many of those committed to sustaining the livelihoods of small-scale fisheries gathered in Rome for the Symposium. One session is particular was of special interest to those of us passionate about this topic: Securing Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods. This session focused on the challenge of achieving equitable and sustainable livelihoods for the millions of women and men who depend on marine and inland fisheries production and value chains for their livelihoods, and whose daily work helps feed billions of people around the world. TBTI Director, Ratana Chuenpagdee, facilitated the session.

The panelists explored various requirements necessary for securing sustainable fisheries livelihoods, including social, cultural and equity dimensions. Approaches for inclusive fisheries governance and engagement with fishers, both women and men, and the need to focus on all three sustainability components, including the social dimension, were discussed. Critical data and knowledge gaps as well as capacity development needs were identified, together with existing policy frameworks and guidance that should be put to use for the future of fisheries livelihoods. The session called for governance, not management, emphasizing that the issues related to equitable and sustainable fisheries livelihoods are not of technical nature and that there are no easy solutions.

In the Symposium live poll, almost 80% of the respondents felt that the available global fisheries and non-fisheries normative instruments are not sufficient to secure sustainable small-scale fisheries.

Recording of the entire Session 4 is available on the FAO website.

Session 4, Panel 4.1 - keynote presentation (PDF)

Sustain or transform; towards secure and equitable livelihoods in small-scale fisheries
Dr Philippa Cohen, WorldFish, Malaysia

Session 4, Panel 4.2 - keynote presentation (PDF)

Sea through the eyes of fisher folk
Mr Mitchell Lay, Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations & Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, Belize

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2022 to be the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022). During this year, a range of initiatives and activities will help raise awareness, globally as well as locally, about the importance of small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture for food security and nutrition, poverty eradication, and sustainable resource use. FAO will serve as lead agency for IYAFA 2022, in close collaboration with relevant organizations of the United Nations and other partners. No doubt, we will all have a role to play in making the most out of IYAFA 2022 and ensuring that we reach the ambitious plans set ahead of us.

The objectives of IYAFA 2022
  • focus world attention on the role that small-scale fisheries, fish farmers and fish workers play in food security and nutrition, poverty eradication and sustainable use of natural resources - ultimately increasing global understanding and action to support them
  • enhance dialogue between different actors and strengthen small-scale producers to partner up with one another  and make their voices heard so they can influence the decisions and policies that shape their everyday lives - all the way from local community level to international and global fora