Responsible Fisheries: The FAO Code 20 Years On

Concerns about global overfishing and the wider ecosystem impacts of fishing activity both within countries economic exclusive zones and the high seas have been in the mind of many for decades and more. During the early 1990's, a number of international instruments were passed with the goal of achieving sustainable fisheries.

In a bid to consolidate the principles arising from these different instruments, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) set about to produce a single, consistent, non-mandatory set of guidelines for the management and development of fisheries, whilst achieving conservation objectives. Just over twenty years ago, on the 31st October 1995, the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries was adopted.

The Code has ten broad and widespread objectives, ranging from the promotion of “protection of living aquatic resources and their environments”, to promoting “the contribution of fisheries to food security and food quality, giving priority to the nutritional needs of local communities”.

The Code isn’t just aimed at the FAO’s 194 member nations, 2 associate members, and single member organisation (the EU). Anyone who has an interest in sustainable fisheries - non-member nations, non-government organisations, fishery managers, and fishing operators can - and have - adopted The Code.

This article was written for (and appears in full in) The Fish Site.

Image: Fishing boats in Protaras, Cyprus. Credit Dimitrisvetsikas1969 (Pixabay Licence )