Slow Food: it’s time to restore connections between fisherfolk and local communities
Under the motto small in scale, big in value, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2022 the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022), with the FAO leading advocacy activities in collaboration with other UN bodies. The Year aims to focus world attention on the role that small-scale fishers, fish farmers and fish workers play in food and nutrition security, the eradication of poverty and the sustainable use of natural resources, thereby increasing global understanding and actions to support them. The launch takes place on November 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. CEST with a virtual event paying tribute to the currently informal World Fisheries Day, which is celebrated around the world on November 21. The launch is an opportunity to inform the public about the goals and objectives of IYAFA 2022 and to inspire action-oriented celebrations throughout the year. Check out the agenda here.
“Our coastal and inland communities are in a critical situation. Ecosystems are changing faster than at any time in history, policies of resource privatization are widespread, and the public is completely disconnected from seafood and the fishers behind it”, comments Paula Barbeito, coordinator of the Slow Fish campaign, who has been chosen as member of the IYAFA Steering Committee thanks to the activities of Slow Food around this topic. “Through the Slow Fish campaign, Slow Food works to restore connections between community fisherfolk, chefs and the public, creating local communities that identify common challenges and develop effective solutions. IYAFA is an opportunity to bring attention to these issues and help fisherfolk rethink our coastal and inland communities, realizing our vision of a healthy food system that makes sustainable local seafood available at a fair price and supports local fishing communities”, concludes Barbeito. The International Steering Committee (ISC) provides overall guidance and assistance to the development and implementation of the IYAFA 2022 action plan, including the establishment of regional committees, as well as mobilization of political and financial support.
IYAFA 2022 is an opportunity to highlight the importance of small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture for our food systems, livelihoods, culture and the environment. Small-scale fishers, fish farmers and fish workers hold enormous potential to promote transformative changes in how, by whom and for whom fish and fishery products are produced, processed and distributed – with positive ripple effects that may be felt throughout the food system.
The numbers in the fisheries sector are impressive: 40 million people are directly engaged in capture fisheries worldwide (FAO, 2018). This increases to 120 million if indirectly-engaged workers are also considered (World Bank, 2012). Of these, 90% of the total are small-scale fishers and fish workers, and almost 50% are women (World Bank, 2012).
Regarding aquaculture, 20 million people are directly engaged in aquaculture worldwide (FAO, 2018), and this increases to up to 50 million if indirectly-engaged workers are also considered (FAO and WorldFish 2016). Around 80% of world aquaculture production comes from developing countries (FAO and WorldFish 2016).
IYAFA 2022 aims to raise awareness of the role of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, strengthen science-policy interaction, empower stakeholders to take action, build new partnerships and strengthen existing ones. IYAFA 2022 may also act as a springboard for the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and related documents, like the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, and take concrete actions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as we enter the last decade of action to achieve the 2030 Agenda. It also falls within the UN Decade of Family Farming; the two observances will reinforce one another in providing greater visibility to small-scale artisanal fishers, fish farmers and fish workers.