The 31st session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Committee on Fisheries (COFI 31) endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, the first international instrument focused entirely on small-scale fisheries.
The Guidelines call for policy coherence to ensure and enhance the contribution of small-scale fisheries to food security, nutrition and poverty eradication. They address, inter alia: responsible governance of tenure; sustainable resource management; employment and decent work; value chains and trade; gender equality; disaster risks and climate change; and an enabling environment and implementation. They are guided by 13 principles based on human rights standards, responsible fisheries standards and sustainable development.
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva described the Guidelines as “a breakthrough. They are an important tool that will promote the implementation of national policies that will help small scale fishers thrive, and play an even greater role in ensuring food security, promoting good nutrition, and eradicating poverty." Graziano da Silva noted that the endorsement of the guidelines in 2014 is particularly relevant as the world is celebrating the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) and focusing attention on small-scale food producers.
COFI considered a number of other issues, including cooperation with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Addressing COFI, CITES Secretary-General, John Scanlon, expressed appreciation for FAO's expert advice on proposals to list commercially exploited aquatic species in CITES Appendices as well as collaboration with FAO to ensure the implementation of these listings.
COFI, which is charged with reviewing FAO's work programmes in the field of fisheries and their implementation, also endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines for Flag State Performance, which aim to deter, prevent and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The 31st session of COFI took place from 9-13 June 2013, in Rome, Italy.