The new era of support for small-scale fisheries in Asia

The new era of support for small-scale fisheries in Asia was pledged in Bangkok at the IYAFA Closing Event for Asia

By Ratana Chuenpagdee, TBTI Global

The  International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 (IYAFA 2022) came to the close at the end of last year but the new era of support for artisanal fisheries and small-scale aquaculture has been launched around the world, including in Asia with the Closing Ceremony held in Bangkok, Thailand on February 28, 2023.

Hosted by the Thailand Department of Fisheries, in partnership with INFOFISH and TBTI Global, and with technical support from FAO, the two-hour hybrid event was participated by about 300 people from 42 countries, the majority of whom joined virtually. In the true spirit of collaboration and in recognition of the multiple perspectives in small-scale fisheries, the event included speakers representing fishers groups and civil society organizations, research institutions and academics, and non-government, government, and intergovernmental organizations.

Check out the recording of the event to hear highlights from IYAFA 2022 in various locations in the region, and the future commitments.

All speakers emphasized the importance and significant contributions of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in their countries and in the region, especially in terms of livelihoods and food security, local economy, jobs, and employment throughout the value chain. This is in addition to their contribution to cultural and heritage value, conservation efforts, and stewardship ethics. While small-scale fisheries are gaining visibility in the region, more needs to be done to enhance information and knowledge about the sector, to protect the rights and access of small-scale fisheries to resources and markets, to promote decent work and safety for people involved in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, and to develop fishery management and governance system sensitive to the needs and the characteristics of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the region. National commitments are key to achieving these goals and mechanisms to enhance regional collaboration should be created for capacity building.

As a region that holds the largest share of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture production in the world, Asia is well positioned to demonstrate what countries can do, individually and collectively, to support small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the new era. Several activities are being planned in the region to further discuss the plan, especially for 2024 when the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries will hit its 10-year milestone.

TBTI Global was proud to be part of the event and used the opportunity to share what we did last year, starting with highlights about the 4th World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress for Asia-Pacific, hosted by Dr. Yinji Li, Tokai University in May 2023. Yinji also talked about TBTI Japan and Girls Who Fish Japan Chapter, which she coordinates. The second TBTI speaker was Dr. Alice Ferrer, the University of the Philippines Visayas, who is the coordinator of TBTI Philippines, a national consortium launched last year as part of the IYAFA celebration to support small-scale fisheries research and development in the country. Alice also told us about an upcoming TBTI E-book “Portrait of Small-Scale Fishers in the Philippines,” which she is the lead editor of and which will be released in June this year. Finally, Dr. Mahmud Islam, Sylhet Agricultural University, wrapped up the contribution of TBTI Global with the presentation about the new TBTI E-book “Small in Scale, Big in Contributions: Advancing Knowledge of Small-Scale Fisheries in Bangladesh,” which he is an editor of. The book has been launched along with the establishment of TBTI Bangladesh, at its headquarters in Sylhet.

The event would not have been possible without the support of the 30 staff persons from the Thailand Department of Fisheries, led by Ms. Pattaraporn Jitanutarachote, Head of Multilateral Cooperation and International Organization Team, Fisheries Foreign Affairs Division, who worked tirelessly and professionally behind the scene to plan, organize, and broadcast the event.