Developing a global standard for small-scale fisheries

New standard developed by Community Catch is out for consultation until 29 August, with the aim of achieving market recognition for small-scale fisheries.
Small-scale fisheries account for 40% of the world’s fish catches, but struggle to access markets in developed countries.

Small-scale fisheries account for 40% of the world’s fish catches, but struggle to access markets in developed countries.

Community Catch

Community Catch, an initiative dedicated to promoting the prosperity of small-scale fishing communities and the sustainability of global fish stocks and aquatic ecosystems, has now released its draft standard for public consultation.

Established by a team with over four decades of experience in small-scale fisheries and 25 years in fishery certifications, Community Catch aims to enhance market access and promote sustainable practices for small-scale fisheries around the world.

The organization points out that small-scale fisheries play a vital role in global food security, contributing 40% of the world’s fish catches and supporting the livelihoods of over 492 million people. However, despite this, such fisheries often struggle to access markets in developed countries, due to the high costs and administrative complexities of certification.

Certification aims to overcome barriers to market

Community Catch says it aims to overcome these market barriers by developing a cost-effective model for evaluating social and environmental standards tailored to small-scale fisheries, offering a range of options, from self-assessment to independent third-party certification.

In support of this, Community Catch is developing an open-access online platform that provides clients with certification standards, feedback, and supporting technologies, with the aim of ensuring transparency and affordability.

Community Catch says it is "engaged with leading organisations and representatives at different levels within seafood and fish value chains to explore market opportunities for small-scale fishery products", including supermarket retailers M&S Food, Woolworths and Migros.

Global trials and consultation during 2024

Community Catch has now released its draft Social and Environmental Standard for Small-Scale Fisheries, and has also made available a draft Evaluation Process enabling fishery clients to undergo independent third-party evaluation audits through its digital portal.

The draft standard aligns with global benchmarks and is currently being trialled in marine and freshwater fisheries worldwide, representing many common fishing gears and target species.

"Our development to date has been informed and directed by a multi-stakeholder Advisory Board, a diverse executive committee and trial evaluations with representative small-scale fisheries around the world," the organization states on its website.

"As the next stage of our development, we would now welcome comments from all interested parties or individuals on the Community Catch Initiative, our Standard and Evaluation Process."

Responses are due by 29 August 2024 via the Community Catch website.

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