SSF at the World Fisheries Congress 2021

The World Fisheries Congress 2021, held virtually on September 20-24, was the 8th Congress in the series, originally scheduled to take place in Adelaide Australia last year but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Taking place every four years, the congress is the main venue for researchers, managers, industries, environmental organizations and community groups interested in all aspects of fisheries to discuss progress, issues and challenges affecting fisheries around the world. Many sessions and presentations were about sustainable fisheries management, including assessment, regulation, enforcement tools and approaches to help achieve fisheries sustainability. Another key theme was related to fish and aquatic ecosystems, with many sessions focusing biodiversity, conservation and ecosystem function and integrity. A strong emphasis on people and fisheries was not to be missed, however. Not only that the congress included a good number of sessions about communities, societal values, and related topics, it also put in the program, a plenary presentation about small-scale fisheries by TBTI Director, Ratana Chuenpagdee. This was truly a wonderful opportunity to share with 1,200 congress participants about the progress and advancement in research and governance of small-scale fisheries, especially during the past decade.

Plenary talk by Ratana Chuenpagdee - Small-scale Fisheries Sustainability: Progress and Challenges

Ratana began her talk by mentioning two important milestones in small-scale fisheries – the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in 2014 and the UN declaration of 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA). She then presented the research and activities that TBTI partnership has been conducting, in collaboration with many partner organizations and networks. The numerous books and publications produced by TBTI are good testaments of how small-scale fisheries are not only too big to ignore, but also too important to fail.

But small-scale fisheries are not isolated from other sectors in the society. Quite the contrary, they are well embedded in the communities, making contribution to food security and poverty eradication locally, nationally and globally. As such, there is a strong connection between small-scale fisheries and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In other words, when small-scale fisheries are sustainable, many of the goals and the targets in SDGs will also be met.

All the progress and success in small-scale fisheries are reasons to celebrate them in IYAFA next year. But this has to be done with continuing effort to address remaining challenges affecting small-scale fisheries, especially the marginalized and vulnerable groups, including many women involved in harvest and post-harvest activities along the value chain. Due attention is also needed to deal with new and emerging threats, like increasing environmental/climate-related risks and development agenda like Blue Growth and Blue Economy, which may affect small-scale fisheries if not done well. Ratana ended her presentation by showing the work that TBTI has been doing on “Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries”, which aims to provide narratives and lessons about different types of injustices facing small-scale fisheries as large-scale ocean development projects are being promoted.

Join TBTI on November 21 to learn about Blue Justice Stories as part of the World Fisheries Day celebration, and participate in the soft launch of the new TBTI book on the same topic.

Finally, since the IYAFA 2022 coincides with the 4th World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress Series, TBTI and its partners will be hosting FIVE regional congresses to enable participation of people interested in small-scale fisheries in the region, and for focused discussion about relevant topics. We hope that you will be able to join one of the regional congresses near you.