Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication
25 de mayo de 2020 - FAO
Insights into how OSPESCA supports implementation of the SSF Guidelines in Central America.
This is an article about the Central America Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (Organizacióndel Sector Pesquero y Acuícola del Istmo Centroamericano, OSPESCA) and how the Organization contribute to the implementation of the SSF Guidelines in Central America. The text is based on writings from and an interview with Mr Reinaldo Morales-Rodríguez, Regional Director, Dirección Regional de OSPESCA.
OSPESCA - an early adopter of the SSF Guidelines
The Central America Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (Organización del Sector Pesquero y Acuícola del Istmo Centroamericano, OSPESCA) is the specialized fisheries advisory body promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in Central American waters. It operates within the Central American Integration System (SICA). OSPESCA took a keen interest in the SSF Guidelines from early on and signed a protocol of intent with FAO to collaborate on their implementation.
Subsequently, the members of OSPESCA agreed to develop and support an implementation strategy for the SSF Guidelines, seeking wide participation from governments and fisherfolk organizations. OSPESCA, together with the Confederation of Artisanal Fisherfolk of Central America (CONFESPESCA) held an SSF Guidelines implementation workshop in 2016, looking over how best to move forward.
Mr Reinaldo Morales-Rodríguez points out that - It is important to us that also the fishers participate in all the activities [concerning their lives and livelihoods], not just the governments. Multi-stakeholder talks are key for sound, sustainable policies and decisions. Working group on small-scale fisheries With the objective to identify and promote actions to implement and monitor the uptake of the SSF Guidelines in the member countries, OSPESCA, CONFESPESCA and FAO established an inter-sectoral working group on small-scale fisheries. Last year, the group also welcomed the Alliance of Indigenous Fishers of Central America (Alianza de Pescadores Indígenas Centroamericanos in Spanish) as their member.
Mr Morales-Rodríguez explains that the working group oversees and collects information on what implementation efforts each country does and prepares: - We in the working group are in a good position to oversee what the countries do, Mr Morales-Rodríguez underlines. We review the state of implementation in SICA member countries, identify challenges, see if there are gaps, things that need to be done. In that way we can identify opportunities in the region to implement the SSF Guidelines.
The working group is furthermore looking at each country’s resources to implement the SSF Guidelines over the coming years, Mr Morales-Rodríguez adds. Taken together, the knowledge gathered will feed into a roadmap to propose a coming regional implementation project. In the meantime, OSPESCA and the working group on small-scale fisheries lend support to various efforts on country level in support of SSF Guidelines implementation.
For instance, data on small-scale fisheries is currently being collected in Panama, and fisherfolk in Costa Rica and Panama have done very appreciated learning exchanges.
Among the actions carried out at the regional level, is the publication of a colourful edition of the SSF Guidelines, published with an additional foreword by the Regional Director of OSPESCA, which has been so popular it is now going for reprint. The working group has furthermore supported outreach events targeting small-scale fisheries associations and cooperatives, trainings for indigenous fishers, and learning exchanges between fishers and fish workers in Central American countries.
Signs of uptake of the SSF Guidelines
Shifting focus back to OSPESCA, the Organization’s work is guided by the "Fisheries and Aquaculture Integration Policy 2015-2025". This policy states, among other things, that the SSF Guidelines shall be taken into account in any plans related to small-scale fisheries in SICA countries. And Mr Morales-Rodríguez can see that the policy as well as the working group’s interventions have had an effect:
- I can see a trend that there is more participation from various actors, and more interaction between goverments and the civil society, he argues. This is visible all our member countries, and it can be a result of the implementation of the SSF Guidelines, he adds.
Yet Mr Morales-Rodríguez emphasizes that the implementation of the SSF Guidelines cannot depend solely on governments. Small-scale fisheries associations and cooperatives have an important role to play and need to remain proactive for changes to happen.
Looking to the future
Looking to the future, Mr Morales-Rodríguez is hopeful that the small-scale fisheries working group will manage to set up a regional implementation project pooling together efforts and resources to focus more clearly on implementing the SSF Guidelines in Central America. He is also looking forward to the celebrations of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2022.
- The International Year will be a good opportunity to demonstrate the importance of small-scale fisheries. We will see after COVID-19 how to plan ahead.
The Central America Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (Organizacióndel Sector Pesquero y Acuícola del Istmo Centroamericano, OSPESCA) is a regional fisheries advisory body responsible for coordinating strategies, policies and projects for the regional governance and sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture.
The Organization’s work is guided by the "Fisheries and Aquaculture Integration Policy 2015-2025" and covers the inland waters, territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zones of its eight members: Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. The aforementioned policy states, among other things, that the SSF Guidelines shall be taken into account in any plans related to small-scale fisheries in SICA countries.
OSPESCA was established in 1995 within the Central American Integration System (SICA). It is relevant to highlight that SICA is the institutional framework for the integration of the Central American region. SICA has 25 secretariats and specialized institutions responsible for different topics of high regional interest - OSPESCA being one of them. The establishment of SICA was endorsed by the General Assembly of the UN, allowing its regional bodies and institutions, including OSPESCA, to relate to the UN system.
OSPESCA has three levels of higher authorities representing its eight member countries; the Council of Ministers, the Committee of Vice Ministers, and the Commission of Directors of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Two regional organizations representing small-scale fisherfolk and the fishing and aquaculture industry act as advisory bodies and participate in OSPESCA’s activities.
OSPESCA coordinates actions of regional impact, offering national authorities, fisherfolk and aquaculture organizations and other actors in the value chain a space to exchange experiences and to work together in favor of the Central American region as a whole.
Learn more on www.fao.org/fishery/rfb/ospesca www.sica.int/ospesca (in Spanish)
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