FAO calls for sustainable aquaculture, end to illegal fishing

Declaration at the 34th session of FAO’s Committee on Fisheries emphasised on undoing damage caused by COVID-19 pandemic  

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 09 February 2021

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, in its first-ever Declaration for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture, pressed for stronger action to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

It also stressed on the need to recover from the impacts of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The declaration was a part of the 34th session of FAO’s Committee on Fisheries (COFI34), which ended its week-long meeting on February 8, 2021.

The Declaration highlighted the importance of fisheries and aquaculture for global agri-food systems transformation and underlined essential contributions in the fight against poverty, hunger and all forms of malnutrition.

According to FAO Deputy-Director General, Maria Helena Semedo:

“We all share a common goal: The sustainable management of our valuable aquatic resources. This is vital to having better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all so that, together, we can achieve the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals.”

IUU fishing

The members emphasised the need for greater monitoring and transparency in fishing operations. Countries were urged to become a party to the FAO Agreement on Port State Measure (PSMA), considered a potent international instrument to combat IUU fishing.

The Russian Federation announced it was becoming a party to the PSMA, joining another 68 FAO members including the European Union on behalf of its member states, which have adhered to the agreement since its adoption in 2009. 

The United Kingdom also agreed to become a party to the agreement in early 2021, following its departure from the European Union.

COVID-19 response

The pandemic dealt a massive blow to the fishing community. The members at the meeting urged FAO to support the communities in response and recovery programmes.

The pandemic affected consumer demands as well as market access. Fish supply, consumption and trade revenues for 2020 were all expected to have declined due to containment restrictions, according to a report presented at the meeting.

Global aquaculture production was expected to fall by 1.3 per cent, according to the report.

The meeting noted the need to improve data collection in the fisheries sector to support evidence-based decision making.

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