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Unlocking legal and policy frameworks for Small-Scale Fisheries
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In June 2014, the Committee on Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines). While there has been a lot of work focusing on the implementation of this instrument, it remains unclear how the existing national legal and policy frameworks can support the respective countries in meeting these international requirements and standards.

Whichever political, legal and/or customary system a country may have, law offers an important legal ground for small-scale fishers to seek formal recognition and protection of their rights while ensuring the burden of applicable duties does not fall disproportionate on their end. Policy is another fundamental instrument that can be used to draw attention of government and relevant authorities to small-scale fisheries issues, periodically setting out priorities, objectives, strategies and plans, which small-scale fishers can benefit from.

The importance of law and policy to small-scale fisheries becomes evident when we know what such instruments provide for and address. Their broad coverage of fisheries in general make them applicable to small-scale fisheries and when they address topics in the SSF Guidelines, even at a general level, such as governance of tenure, sustainable resources management, gender and climate change, their application to small-scale fisheries becomes more pertinent.

States and all relevant actors, including small-scale fishers and communities, should work together towards unlocking legal and policy frameworks, identifying which provisions can be used as legal basis for them to fight for their rights, and clarifying which parts of the policy relate to their issues so they can participate and support in its implementation. The more small-scale fisheries actors work together to understand what legislation and policy provide for, the better are the chances for implementing the SSF Guidelines and for enhancing small-scale fisheries sustainability.

In light of this need, the project ‘Unlocking national legal and policy frameworks’ aims to improve our understanding about how the relevant instruments can be interpreted and applied in support of the SSF Guidelines implementation.

Complete the ‘Unlocking legal and policy frameworks for Small-Scale Fisheries’ template as best as you can and, when possible, indicate the information of the legal and/or policy instruments to support your answer. Please return the completed questionnaire to us by e-mail: [email protected].