The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the seafood sector dominated the 34th Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI), 1-5 February 2021. Across the world, market disruption has hit fisheries and aquaculture hard, adversely affecting the livelihoods of fishers and seafood farmers. At the same time, the pandemic has underscored the vital contribution of the sector to the global economy, to nutrition and to food security.
In line with the European Green Deal, the EU stressed that the post-Covid recovery must be based on sustainable management of fisheries and aquaculture, as the best tool to balance the multiple challenges of fostering economic development, whilst promoting conservation, biodiversity, food security and the fight against climate change.
As the world’s largest donor of official development assistance and the principal donor to FAO, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to supporting and promoting the contribution of fisheries and aquaculture to sustainable development.
Reaffirming its "zero tolerance" approach to Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing, the EU contributed directly to the decision to develop, for adoption in 2022, FAO Guidelines on Transshipment operations that currently remain largely unregulated and insufficiently monitored and controlled. The EU also contributed to an agreement to progress on developing FAO Sustainable Aquaculture Guidelines in 2021 to ensure that the growth of global aquaculture necessary to meet increasing world demand for protein does not come at the expense of the environment, economic development or social conditions. Finally, the EU invited FAO to pursue the elaboration of draft guidance on social responsibility in fish value chains, building more explicitly upon key conventions in this domain. These could be important soft international law instruments to advance EU interests on aquaculture and fisheries worldwide under the European Green Deal.
The delegations to the COFI meeting endorsed a Declaration on Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture. The declaration acknowledges the achievements of the fisheries and aquaculture sector since the establishment of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries 25 years ago, and gathers collective momentum in tackling the challenges and opportunities to secure the long-term sustainability of the sector.
 In particular the ILO work in fishing Convention C-188, the IMO Convention on standards of training certification and watch keeping for fishing vessels personnel, the Cape Town Agreement on Safety of Fishing vessels and, to meet the specific needs of small-scale fisheries value chains and their operators, particularly women, the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (VG-SSF).
- Publication date
- 8 February 2021
- Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries