In the Iloilo Plan of Action, which was adopted at the conclusion of the two-day APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy hosted by Iloilo City last month, the high-level officials recognized the important role of small-scale fisheries to food security, nutrition and livelihoods of coastal communities, noting that the sector accounts for one-half of the global fish catch and considering that small-scale fishing communities are often economically and environmentally vulnerable.
The APEC officials said they were also aware that agribusiness offers opportunities for increased income and integration of small-scale fishers and fish farmers, cooperatives, associations, and other stakeholders in food supply chains.
In the Plan of Action, they enumerated 10 ways to increase food security and inclusive growth by promoting agribusiness, market development, and open and fair trade to enable the integration of small-scale fishers and fish farmers into global food chains. Member economies need to:
1.) Facilitate food trade in fish and aquaculture products while ensuring the sustainability of resources and their related environment;
2.) Enhance the capacity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in agribusiness, and foster market integration and development of small-scale fishers and smallholder fish farmers, in particular women and indigenous communities, into the global fish and fish food chains;
3.) Strengthen public-private partnership on improving food safety and efficiency along supply chains;
4.) Enhance the APEC Oceans and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) and the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) and relevant APEC sub-fora collaboration on agribusiness in fishery and aquaculture, market development, cold chain technology, preservation practices of fish and fish products and trade in products of fisheries and aquaculture;
5.) Ensure the livelihoods of coastal communities, strengthen and improve capacity building on cold chain management and preservation practices of fish and fish products to small-scale fishers, smallholder fish farmers, including women and indigenous communities;
6.) Encourage agribusiness and market development to implement, as appropriate, certification schemes on aquatic products, and supply chain management to ensure sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, aquatic products traceability and food safety;
7.) Expand capacity building on fish seed quality, fish product quality and food safety standards for small-scale fishers and smallholder fish farmers, particularly women groups;
8.) Promote fish farm clusters through organizing production and marketing groups and cooperatives to enhance the capacity of small-scale holder fish farms to meet quality standards and market access;
9.) Foster cooperation on technology innovation between agribusiness, the science community and private sector industry to improve techniques, product quality and added value for upgrading the aquaculture sector; and
10.) Facilitate investment and public-private partnerships on infrastructure building in fisheries and aquaculture to contribute to food security.
These recommendations will be presented to the APEC Leaders during their upcoming meeting in Manila.