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Small-scale fishers are stewards of our waters and seas

Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2022

As competition to control the world’s water resources increases, the 2022 Right to Food and Nutrition Watch calls for global fisheries governance that recognizes small-scale fishers as custodians of water ecosystems and protects their rights from extractive industries and other commercial interests. 

The world’s water and fisheries resources once seemed abundant and everlasting. That is no longer the case. Small-scale fishers across the globe are facing constraints in sustaining their livelihoods through fishing and losing their ties to water and their own identity. More than 482 million traditional fisher people depend on waters and seas for their livelihoods. They also play a key role in preserving water ecosystems through sustainable fishing, yet their right to food and nutrition and related human rights are often ignored, jeopardized, or outright violated due to ever-increasing ocean and territory grabbing by extractive industries.  

Mining, oil, and gas, overfishing and depletion of resources by large-scale industrial fishing, expansion of industrial aquaculture, tourism, construction of ports and infrastructure projects, and top-down conservation initiatives are contributing to the environmental destruction of ocean ecosystems and exacerbating climate change.  

Against this backdrop, the 2022 Right to Food and Nutrition Watch report is dedicated to small-scale fishers and traditional fisherfolk who are speaking out against the capitalist onslaught of their territories and reclaiming what has been expropriated from fisher communities across the globe.

Stewards of our Waters and Seas – Time to Recognize and Support Small-Scale Fishers  is being launched on World Fisheries Day and is published by the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition . It critically examines the challenges faced by small-scale fishers, including policy processes and global fisheries governance that affect their right to food and nutrition. 

The 2022 Watch also focuses on fisherwomen who are severely affected by water and ocean grabbing.  

“Contemporary development, guised under so-called Blue Economy, continues to dispossess small-scale fisher communities from water bodies indispensable for our right to food and nutrition,” says Margare Nakato, from KATOSI Women Development Trust, a member of the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers (WFF) in Uganda.  

Women not only fish but engage in postharvest activities, contributing enormously to the household well-being and sustainable production of nutritious food, especially for rural communities. And yet, they are unrecognized and marginalized, and decisions are made without their participation. 

2022 is the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture and it would be a missed opportunity if small-scale fishers were not recognized and supported as custodians of ocean ecology through their sustainable management of its resources.  

“We will no longer tolerate “blue-fencing” of our people that is happening all over the world. The current dire crisis of the nature and environment is the result of corporate greed, supported by governments,” says Jones Spartegus, National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) India, a member of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFF).  “We call upon the international community to support in bringing back the ocean and its resources to us and our future generations.”


Read online Stewards of our Waters and Seas – Time to Recognize and Support Small-Scale Fishers

Read more about the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch