Improving fishing and conserving marine biodiversity along the coastal mainland, was a topic that was brought up in discussion between the Committee on Fisheries (COFi) of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and Member States, which (with Honduras among them), should meet this year to discuss and approve. “FAO Voluntary Guidelines to Ensure Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries" is an instrument for the improvement in the lives of the people, and for those who manage or rely on catches and marketing of small scale fisheries, as well as for those concerned about the continued conservation of biodiversity degradation in aquatic environments on the planet.
There is no universal definition for small scale fisheries because of diversity of economic, cultural, dependence on fishing, traditional knowledge, labor relations, type and size of the boat, gear, etc., so many States primarily consider small scale fisheries to be like traditional fishing, considering it as a livelihood for obtaining food, shelter, education, health, income and small employment, with small boats and fishing gear operated manually.
The Guidelines also establish principles and criteria for the development and implementation of policies and strategies aimed at improving governance, management and administration of resources and ensure a legitimate social development, employment and decent work. They also seek to establish a more efficient and fair trade chain from capture fisheries to the consumer, not to mention the valuable role of women and strengthening the resilience of communities to disaster risk and climate change.
For the effort undertaken by civil society, the COFi / FAO and member states realized that there must be congruence and implementation of policies, inter-institutional coordination and collaboration with civil society, backed by solid research, frank and fluid information and capacity building, both within fishing communities as competent government agencies. But above all, there must be political and financial support for excellent execution and monitoring.
In late January 2013, at the meeting in Rome, representatives of civil society in Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, Central and North America had already achieved consensus on the "zero draft," which in February will be presented to COFi / FAO. This in turn will allow them to select what is deemed appropriate and present it to the annual meeting of COFi.
Jorge A. Varela Marquez
Jorge Varela is an environmentalist from Honduras. He received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1999, for his contribution to marine conservation in the Gulf of Fonseca