Food sovereignty coalition champions small-scale fisherfolk at FAO session

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Small-scale fisherfolk must own and control resources and be protected from privatization, and civil society organizations must have greater input in developing landmark international guidelines on small-scale fisheries.
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These were the messages delivered by the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) at the 30th session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
In a July 12 intervention at a plenary session held in Rome on the International Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, PCFS also noted support received so far from governments and emphasized that the guidelines must remain non-voluntary.
COFI is the only global inter-governmental forum where major international fisheries and aquaculture problems and issues are examined and recommendations addressed to governments, regional fishery bodies, non-governmental organizations, fishworkers, the FAO and international community, periodically on a world-wide basis.
The PCFS intervention in full:
Thank you, Mr Chair.
The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty welcomes the ongoing process of developing landmark International Guidelines on Small-Scale Fisheries and the FAO’s work in placing greater emphasis on issues and concerns of small-scale fisherfolk. Our member fisherfolk organizations have participated in the consultations conducted so far. We positively note the broad support from governments to come up with these guidelines.
We principally stress the absence of the word ‘voluntary’ in the zero draft and strongly urge that this remain to be so up to its eventual final adoption in 2014 for more binding commitments, especially on the part of governments. 
PCFS thus has the following recommendations:
First, discussions on governance of rights, resources management and stewardship of small-scale fisherfolk need to go beyond the issue of “access” to resources and should cover democratic ownership and control of these as well;
Second, protection of small-scale fisherfolk against commercialization and privatization of coastal inland communities that result in their displacement and loss of livelihood must be ensured. This includes working for the review or possible repeal of existing policies and laws on fisheries that have negative impacts on the rights and livelihoods of small-scale fisheries that include a great number of women;
Third, efforts for continued, greater, and meaningful participation of civil society organizations in the entire process must be ensured. At the national level, there is a need to ensure appropriate representations of small-scale fisheries in the drafting, decision-making and implementation of fisheries policies and programs from the local to the international levels.
The FAO is in a unique position to help in efforts for sustainable development in fisheries by setting up mechanisms of monitoring and implementation of all relevant fisheries policies, especially at the country level. In this regard, we echo proposals for the creation of a Sub-Committee on Small-Scale Fisheries and even for the FAO to create a specific focus area on small-scale food producers as earlier forwarded. We support this in the context of developing the sector so as not to keep them small-scale in the longer run.
Finally, under FAO’s new decentralization bid towards more meaningful engagements at the county level, a right step in this bottom-up approach is to ensure that human rights is at the core of all these efforts for sustainable small-scale fisheries. 
Thank you for this opportunity.

Photo by Jesus Tejel, from Fotopedia.