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World Fisheries Day in light of social protection of fishers and aquaculture producers

This year, the World Fisheries Day, celebrated on 21 November, is dedicated to highlighting the importance of healthy marine ecosystems and to ensuring sustainable fisheries stocks and social protection of workers in the fishing industry.

Fishing communities around the world celebrate this day with rallies, workshops, public meetings, cultural performances, exhibitions and music events. The day provides an opportunity to draw attention to the importance of maintaining the world fisheries, in particular small-scale fishing. This year, special emphasis is placed on the care for social protection of people who make their living from fishing.


Fisherman | Author Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food

Fish and fish products are an important source of nutrition for many people around the world, especially for those who live along rivers, lakes and seas. For many traditional societies this activity is a source of livelihood. In Slovenia, the preservation of traditional fishing is of extreme importance. As many as 90% of vessels in the Slovenian fishing fleet are shorter than 12 meters and their fishing trips usually last only a few hours. Slovenia remains strongly committed to implementing the Common Fisheries Policy measures through which it contributes to sustainable management of stocks in the Northern Adriatic.

On the occasion of the World Fisheries Day, Minister Irena Šinko points out: "Slovenia is a fishing and maritime country and as such traditionally oriented toward the sea. Fishing is a source of livelihood for some people, but on the other hand, it is also important that we preserve the tradition and cultural heritage of Slovenian fisheries. However, we are all faced with the fact that the state of fishing stocks in the Adriatic is not optimal and that the fishers' working conditions are becoming increasingly difficult. The European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) provides some solutions for fishers and aquaculture producers to help them overcome the situation and gives the fishing sector a good foundation to strengthen its activities. Our Ministry has recently sent documents to the European Commission that will enable the drawing of funds for the next programme period 2021–2027. Our main objective is to preserve Slovenian fisheries as a tradition of sustainable production of food from the sea for future generations."

In the EU, small-scale fishing represents 80 percent of the fishing fleet. Small-scale fisheries are mostly small, family-run businesses where knowledge and skills on traditional fishing techniques, which are generally more environmentally-friendly than newer techniques, are passed down from generation to generation. These fishing methods are a source of livelihood for many families and are closely intertwined with the coastal communities’ way of life. However, many of today’s stocks are overfished, which poses a major problem for small coastal fishing communities. It is estimated that 78 percent of stocks in the Mediterranean are still endangered, despite the many preventive measures that have been adopted. Adding to that the increasing marine pollution and the global economic crisis, it is clear that the fishing sector and, with it, the people who support themselves and their families through fishing, are facing considerable global challenges.

In 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) approved the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (the SSF Guidelines), outlining a number of key objectives to protect and strengthen the influence of small-scale fisheries around the world. The SSF Guidelines promote social development, employment and decent work for the people involved in small-scale fishing, ensuring that the human rights of all individuals are respected. The protection of human rights is a topic that requires a high degree of cooperation between all stakeholders responsible for their protection. Social protection is a particularly important aspect of that, as it generally concerns the most vulnerable groups and individuals. The international development agenda recognises the important contribution of social protection to increasing the adaptability, productivity, food security and economic development of the fishing sector. The 2021 Declaration of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) calls on countries to "facilitate access to social protection programmes for fishers and aquaculture producers and their communities".

A sensible transformation is also the focus area of the new FAO Strategic Framework 2022–2031 aimed at promoting the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the areas of food and agriculture. Sensible transformation emphasises the need for bold, future-oriented measures with a view to strengthening and expanding aquaculture, improving fisheries management and the innovative value chain of fisheries and aquaculture.

On the occasion of this year’s World Fisheries Day, an event will be held in Rome under the auspices of FAO. Its main topics will be investments in social protection and the collection of recommendations for a more social protection-based approach with the aim of contributing to sustainable development and a just sensible transformation to promote social and economic sustainability and the sustainability of fishing as an activity.

In 2016, the FAO Committee on Fisheries supported the proposal for the declaration of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture to raise awareness on this industry. In 2017, 2022 was declared the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture by the United Nations at the 72nd session of the General Assembly, with a view to promoting a transition to a more effective, inclusive, resilient and sustainable society. Special attention is devoted to expanding and strengthening social protection in the fishing and aquaculture sectors. In this context, World Fisheries Day is celebrated on 21 November.