6 Ways to Support Small-Scale Fishing Communities for Sustainable Food Systems

· Ethan Otto

Small-scale fisheries play an essential role in food security and nutrition, providing employment for over 90 percent of the approximately 120 million people employed in the industry. However, these fishing communities are often overlooked, and their actors tend not to be involved in the decision-making processes that influence their lives and future. Here are six ways to support small-scale fishing communities:

Enable social organization: Efforts should be made to enable social organization among fishworkers to strengthen their voice. This will help to ensure that they are involved in the decision-making processes that affect their livelihoods.

Optimize product quantity and quality: Fishworkers must be provided with the capacity and facilities to optimize the quantity and quality of the product being traded. This is crucial for reducing resource pressure and preserving marine ecosystems for future generations.

Enhance value chains: Governments, private enterprises, NGOs, development agencies, and civil society all have an essential role to play in enhancing value chains, post-harvest operations, and trade to facilitate market access for small-scale fishers and fishworkers.

Provide market access: Efforts should be made to provide access to markets for small-scale fishers and fishworkers. This will help to enhance food security and poverty reduction in fishing communities.

Achieve SDG targets: The objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are closely connected to the challenges faced by small-scale fishing communities. Governments, private enterprises, NGOs, development agencies, and civil society should work together to achieve SDG Target 14.b and SDG Target 2.3.

Support women in fishing communities: About half of those working in small-scale fisheries are women, mostly engaged in post-harvest activities, especially marketing and processing. Efforts should be made to support women in fishing communities, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets, and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.

Small-scale fishing communities are essential for sustainable food systems, poverty eradication, and the preservation of marine ecosystems. It is crucial to support these communities through social organization, product optimization, value chain enhancement, market access, achievement of SDG targets, and support for women in fishing communities. By doing so, we can work together to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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