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The Treaties - 22 - Fisheries Treaty


1. Fishery resources are a vital source of food and make a valuable economic contribution to the peoples of the world.

2. Traditional fisherfolk, including artisanal, indigenous and small-scale fishers and fishworkers are among the poorest and most socially, politically and economically disadvantaged segments of society.

3. Fishers around the world face resource depletion, loss of access to resources, competition from industrial and distant water fleets. The resource itself suffers ecosystem destruction from various sources, including industrial and urban pollution, overfishing and destructive and non-discriminatory fishing technology.

4. Fisherfolk organizations and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) recognize these problems and pledge to work together to achieve the following objectives:

    a. support fishers and fishing communities

    b. conserve and protect aquatic ecosystems.


In addressing these concerns, we agree that:

5. Artisanal Fisheries. Priority should be given to artisanal fisheries in recognition of their importance as a source of food for local consumption, income and employment and a means of promoting community stability, resource conservation and the environmental protection of marine, coastal and inland waters areas.

6. Ecologically Sound Practices. Fisheries should be conducted in a manner that is ecologically sound to sustain the resource for present and future generations and that is socially just, respecting cultural, biological and ecosystem diversity.

7. Equitable Principles. Access to fishery resources should recognize the needs of fishery communities and be based on equitable principles and respect for the environment, not solely on political power and the availability of technology and capital.

8. Ecosystem Approach. Fisheries should be managed from an ecosystem perspective, utilizing integrated management principles which take into consideration human activities leading to degradation of aquatic ecosystems and the environment, such as: inappropriate and destructive agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and fishing practices; land-based and sea-based sources of pollution; and development for tourism, urban and industrial purposes. The common recognition of, and agreement to act to solve, these problems are the main challenges facing the cooperative endeavors of fishers, environmental NGOs and development NGOs.

9. Participation. Successful management of fisheries and other factors affecting the aquatic environments should have the full and meaningful participation of all interested parties including fishers, particularly those with traditional knowledge and experience, environmental NGOs, development NGOs and scientists.

10. Women in Fisheries. It is essential that the vital role of women in fisheries and integrated community development should be recognized and supported and that the women participate at all levels in decisions affecting these matters.

11. Precautionary Approach and Environmental Impact Assessments. A precautionary approach should be taken in making decisions that affect fisheries and aquatic environments, including the use of environmental impact assessments.

12. High Seas Fishing. The special rights and needs of coastal states and coastal fishing communities with respect to straddling stocks and highly migratory species under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) should be recognized. All high seas fishing must be subject to a legally binding regime which takes into account the ecosystem effects on the high seas as well as in the adjacent coastal waters. Any environmental standards negotiated for fishing on the high seas should apply to fisheries for straddling stocks and highly migratory species in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

13. Basic Rights. Basic rights, including human rights, as provided in national and international laws, agreements and conventions should be observed for fishers, fishworkers and in all sectors, and that minimum standards of safe working conditions must be developed, adopted and applied. It is essential to recognize and apply the basic rights of fisherfolk including, for example to:

    a. form their own organizations which can participate by voting in national planning commissions, fisheries management decision and fisheries development plans

    b. have marine and inland water zones reserved exclusively for artisanal fishing activities

    c. have access to credit and social services.


14. We recognize the needs for common action to improve the quality of life of fisherfolk and fishworkers based on the principles set out in this treaty.

15. Recognizing that fisheries should be conducted using a comprehensive ecosystem approach, we recommend that:

    a. all existing technologies which reduce by-catch and protect aquatic ecosystems be implemented and the development of others be encouraged

    b. technologies determined to be non-selective or otherwise harmful to the aquatic environment be restricted or eliminated

    c. fisheries management incorporate enforcement mechanisms and establish effective monitoring programs

    d. an internationally binding regime for high seas fisheries be negotiated that includes mechanisms to ensure compliance with the United Nations Driftnet Moratorium (Resolution 46/215).

16. Recognizing the need to enhance knowledge of aquatic ecosystems, we encourage support for research programs to increase our understanding of the relationships between aquatic organisms and their environment and to determine ecologically appropriate fishery yields. Such programs should enlist the cooperation of all peoples and recognize traditional and indigenous knowledge and methods.

17. Recognizing the need for cooperation among fishers, environmental NGOs and development NGOs, we encourage such mechanisms as: information exchange, reciprocal visits and training (for example, establishing programs within all of our organizations for personnel exchange which facilitates mutual understanding and the sharing of knowledge and skills); developing or strengthening organizations to facilitate cooperation; joint action; and cooperative action with respect to national and international policy, law, investment and aid.

18. We recognize that only some groups could participate in the fisheries discussions in Rio de Janeiro's Global Forum and that broad participation and agreement of the above principles is needed.

19. The signers of this treaty agree to work together to help facilitate regional networks, following the above principles, of small-scale fishers' organizations, environmental groups, development NGOs and other concerned interests, with a view to holding a world conference on fisheries and environment in Rome in 1994. This conference will be organized a decade after the first international meeting of artisanal fisherfolk and support organizations held in 1984, concurrently with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference.


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