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TitleThe State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture - 2012
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Total Pages230
Document Text Contents
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ISSN 1020-5489



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Cover photographs courtesy of FAO, O. Barbaroux, G. Bizzarri, M.R. Hasan, L. Miuccio,
J. Saha, J. Sanders, J. Spaull and J. Van Acker; sidebar photograph courtesy of F. Maimone.

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World review of fisheries and aquaculture 97
management of shared marine resources and to preserve the associated employment
and other economic benefits of sustainable fisheries. In September 2011, recognizing
this and in line with their commitment to the fight against IUU fishing, the European
Union and the United States of America undertook to cooperate bilaterally to combat
IUU fishing effectively. As leaders in global fish trade, the United States of America
and European Union Members recognize their obligation to keep illegal fish out of the
world market. The agreement commits the two signatories to work together to adopt
effective tools to combat IUU fishing.65

Strengthening fisheries management capacity is fundamental in developing
countries in order to facilitate sustainable fisheries and to reduce and mitigate the
impacts of IUU fishing. Capacity development is especially important to support the
full and effective implementation of existing and new global instruments (e.g. the
2009 Port State Measures Agreement [Box 6]) and other fisheries initiatives as tools to
combat IUU fishing.

Aquaculture governance
With the recent dramatic growth in aquaculture, governance of this sector has become
increasingly important and has made remarkable progress. Many governments
worldwide utilize the the Code, in particular its Article 9. They also use FAO published
guidelines for reducing administrative burdens and for improving planning and
policy development in aquaculture. In addition, several countries have adequate
national aquaculture development policies, strategies, plans and laws, and use “best
management practices” and manuals on farming techniques that have been promoted
by industry organizations and development agencies. The FAO Technical Guidelines on
Aquaculture Certification, which were approved by the Twenty-ninth Session of COFI
held in Rome from 31 January to 4 February 2011, constitute an additional important
tool for good governance of the sector. By setting minimum substantive criteria for
developing aquaculture certification standards, including animal health and welfare,
food safety, environmental integrity and socio-economic aspects, these guidelines
provide direction for the development, organization and implementation of credible
aquaculture certification schemes. The ultimate aim is to ensure orderly and sustainable
development of the sector.

Many governments have now recognized sustainability as the principal goal of
aquaculture governance because it enables aquaculture to prosper for a long period.
Long-term prosperity is predicated on fulfilling the four prerequisites for sustainable
aquaculture development: technological soundness, economic viability, environmental
integrity and social licence. Meeting these prerequisites also ensures that ecological
well-being is compatible with human well-being.

An important component of human well-being is employment. In the last three
decades, employment in the primary fisheries and aquaculture sector has grown
faster than the world’s population and employment in traditional agriculture (see
Employment section in Part 1, p. 41). Including employment in the primary aquaculture
producing sector and in the secondary services and support sector together with
household dependants, more than 100 million people depend on the aquaculture
sector for a living; the industry has provided, and continues to create, a good number
of jobs, particularly non-seasonal jobs.

In many places, these employment opportunities have enabled young people to stay
in their communities and have strengthened the economic viability of isolated areas.
By generating incomes for female workers, especially in fish processing and marketing,
employment in aquaculture has enhanced the economic and social status of women
in many places in developing countries, where more than 80 percent of aquaculture
output occurs. Through incomes from these jobs and various multipliers, employment
in aquaculture has also improved the accessibility to food for many households and has
increased aquaculture’s contribution to the Millennium Development Goals. For these
reasons, aquaculture has been heavily promoted in several countries with fiscal and
monetary incentives.

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The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 201298
However, these benefits induced by employment in aquaculture are often

overlooked. The sector has developed at a time of growing scrutiny from the public,
improved communications and vociferous opposition groups. Although opposition
groups can act as environmental and social watchdogs and as lobby groups, putting
pressure on aquaculture businesses to increase transparency and improve working
conditions, it is also important to consider the benefits accruing from the sector,
including employment.66

However, there are well-documented cases of unfair employment practices in
aquaculture. For example, there are some research findings according to which
aquaculture enterprises, especially large corporations, exploit local labour. One
study argue that local labour is employed in lower-paid jobs, paid low salaries, and
subjected to discriminatory practices such as willingly creating gender imbalances or
paying female workers less than male workers doing the same jobs.67 Child labour
employment, for example, in factories, processing units, peeling sheds, and in the
collection of shrimp seeds, is also sometimes highlighted.68

Such claims can undermine trust in the sector, threaten the credibility of policy-
makers and jeopardize markets for farmed seafood. Hence, there is a need for more
research into this issue, as there are sufficient indications to suggest that these practices
might occur on a large scale, especially in developing countries for economic reasons.

Most countries have labour legislation to protect workers. However, compliance
with such legislation can result in high indirect costs and deter firms, especially when
goods are intended for export. Where these costs are high for firms and differ amply
across borders, they can give enterprises operating in countries with lower labour and
social standards a competitive advantage compared with those in jurisdictions with
higher standards.

A possible result is that governments will be under pressure from companies to
reduce labour and social standards in order to ease the burden of high indirect labour
costs, thereby enhancing their competitive edge. Otherwise, the companies, especially
large transnationals, may threaten to make new investments, or even to relocate
existing establishments, in jurisdictions where lower labour standards exist with more
amenable regulations. The threat can be exacerbated when there are negative shocks,
such as fish disease outbreaks, or price or currency fluctuations, that expose companies
to the risk of further erosion of their competitive position.

This pattern of behaviour becomes possible because large companies farming
some species (such as shrimp, salmon, tilapia, abalone and others that become global
commodities) are generally located in isolated rural communities, which gives them
power over the labour force as the sole or dominant employer. To remain attractive to
these companies and safeguard employment in rural communities, governments may
be prepared to sacrifice good working conditions or even accept the employment of
minors. Workers in these communities may also accept reduced wages and salaries,
work longer hours without compensation or forgo some benefits.

A thorough understanding of these and other aspects of governance of
employment in aquaculture is necessary. It will assist policy-makers in implementing
corrective measures where these claims are proved well founded or in taking
preventive action otherwise.

For the purpose of improving human well-being, employment in aquaculture, as in
any other sector of the economy, must be equitable and non-exploitative. Principled
values should guide aquaculture activities so that farmers with strong corporate social
responsibility induce beyond-compliance behaviour. This would obviate the need for
restrictive regulations; the best regulation is self-regulation. With an ethos of corporate
social responsibility, aquaculture companies would assist local communities, employ
fair labour practices and demonstrate transparency. Increasingly, with rising consumer
awareness of employment practices in general, it makes good business sense for
aquaculture enterprises to demonstrate (through certification, or otherwise) that they
conform to the best standards. For these reasons, legislation should protect labour,
particularly in developing countries, reflecting concepts of social justice and human

Page 230


In addition to striving to meet the United Nations Millennium Development

Goals, the global community is also grappling with other pressing and

complex challenges such as the widespread economic crisis and the

effects of climate change. It is in this context that this edition of

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture highlights the vital role

of fisheries and aquaculture in both food and nutrition security as well

as economic expansion. The sector remains a major supplier of

high-qual ity animal protein and supports the l ivel ihoods and

well-being of more than ten percent of the world’s population.

International trade in fish has reached new peaks as overall production

has continued to rise. Yet, as the document underlines, an array of

problems – ranging from the need for more effective governance to

that of ensuring environmental sustainability – threatens to undermine

the sector’s valuable contribution to alleviating hunger and reducing


Using the latest available statistics on fisheries and aquaculture, this

edition presents a global analysis of the sector’s status and trends. It

also examines broader related issues such as gender, emergency

preparedness and the ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture.

Selected highlights, from ecolabelling and certification to the effects of

fisheries management policies on fishing safety, provide insights on

specific topics. Finally, the document looks at the opportunities and

difficulties for capture fisheries in the coming decades.

To cite

FAO. 2012.

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012. Rome. 209 pp.


ISBN 978-92-5-107225-7 ISSN 1020-5489

9 7 8 9 2 5 1 0 7 2 2 5 7

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