Utilising traditional, low impact fishing practices, small-scale fisheries have long played a crucial role in maintaining food security and providing livelihoods in some of the world’s most impoverished regions. However, with marketplaces experiencing intense, rising competition from less responsible, industrial operators, it’s now essential that seafood value chains ensure that small-scale fisheries are heard and nurtured.
Approximately 97% of small-scale fisheries are located in developing countries, and, while almost 90% of catches go directly to local consumption, they are also important to many commercial value chains. Moreover, around 90% of all full-time and part-time jobs in the global seafood industry have links to the small-scale sector, and about half of these positions are fulfilled by women.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) – through their holistic vision to eradicate poverty and deprivation, grow economies, protect the environment, advance peace and promote good governance – provide the ideal framework to support small-scale fisheries, attendees heard at the Our Oceans Conference 2018 in Bali, Indonesia (29 & 30 October 2018).
A special side event entitled ‘Building Equity into Sustainable Seafood Sourcing’, hosted by the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF), Asosiasi Perikanan Pole & Line dan Handline Indonesia (AP2HI), Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI) and Blue Ventures, provided clear evidence that a fast growing numbers of consumers and seafood companies want to ensure that the world’s traditional, small-scale fisheries remain an integral part of the broader seafood supply landscape. Additionally, the event established that with the right level of support, these fisheries can grow and expand.
“International corporations everywhere need to show a greater commitment to small-scale fisheries and enable these coastal fisheries to compete on a fair footing. It would be unthinkable that in this age of heightened business ethics, truly responsible businesses would commit all of their sourcing to large offshore or distant-water industrial fisheries,” says Martin Purves, Managing Director of IPNLF.
Purves continues, “Many of these businesses are already adhering to principles contained in the UN SDGs. In supporting small-scale fisheries and creating more equitable markets, such businesses are progressing their contribution to these goals.”
Abdul Muis Sulaiman, General Manager of AP2HI, says, “It was an honour to have Bapak M. Zulficar Mochtar, Director General of Capture Fisheries, Ministry Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia, open the session to reconfirm the Indonesian Government’s commitment to support our pole-and-line and handline tuna fisheries in their journey towards achieving Marine Stewardship Council certification and the important alignment with the UN SDGs.”
The event also debuted the new film ‘The Value of Small-Scale Fisheries’, made by IPNLF, AP2HI, MDPI and Blue Ventures, which underlines the importance of having businesses engage with and support the small-scale sector.
Commenting on the film, Marc Fruitema of Blue Ventures, says, “The film makes a very strong case for reversing the marginalization of small-scale fisheries and shows how important it is to secure their access to the resources upon which they depend and their access to markets connecting them to the global community.”
The session closed with all four organisations declaring their shared vision through an ‘all hands on deck’ commitment to drive the agenda for small-scale fisheries in international markets together.
At the Our Ocean Conference, IPNLF, AP2HI and MDPI also pledged their Ocean Commitment – collectively dedicating over US$4million to support small-scale fisheries development in Indonesia. The full list of Ocean Commitments will become available online here.
Reflecting on the Ocean Commitments, Deirdre Duggan, Director of Programmes and Science from MDPI, says, “Our hope is that small-scale fisheries will be recognised as key players in achieving sustainable fisheries production and consumption globally.”