Small-Scale Fisheries

Ensure equitable governance and preferential access rights for Small-Scale Fisheries within territorial waters.

Small-scale fisheries (SSF) make up 40% of global marine and inland capture fisheries production, employing 90% of capture fisheries workers, and providing nutrition, income, and livelihoods for millions of coastal populations. 45 million women rely on SSF for their subsistence and nearly 500 million people depend, at least partially, on small-scale fisheries for their lives and livelihoods as highlighted in the Illuminating Hidden Harvests report.

In this context, RISE UP is actively working to facilitate the engagement of SSF groups through the RISE UP SSF Cluster and to support campaigns that strive for equitable governance and preferential access rights for small-scale fishers within territorial waters.

©Blue Ventures

Why is this a RISE UP Priority Campaign?

RISE UP has placed a high priority on supporting campaigns to ensure equitable governance and preferential access rights for Small-Scale Fisheries within territorial waters, as it aligns with the following key asks in the Blue Call to Action:

  • Recognition of a human rights-based approach in conservation initiatives
  • Calling for preferential access rights for sustainable small-scale fishers within territorial seas
  • Advocating for the protection against competing blue economy sectors
  • Strengthening governance and policy frameworks, promoting community-based management to protect the ocean, and ensuring the free prior and informed consent of Indigenous and coastal communities in these processes.
  • Recognising, protecting and securing legitimate tenure rights to marine resources and ensuring that ancestral, Indigenous and local knowledge is recognised and incorporated in decision-making
  • Promoting food security and poverty eradication through the immediate implementation of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries

Key Partners

The RISE UP Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) Campaign Cluster

In order to help accelerate the transformative actions needed, A dedicated initiative within RISE UP was launched in November 2022: the Small-Scale Fisher (SSF) Campaign Cluster.

The RISE UP Small Scale Fisher Cluster aims to create a space for dialogue and perspective sharing between environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and small-scale fisher and artisanal fisher supporting organizations, based on equity, reciprocity and listening with respect. The Terms of Reference of the Cluster were developed collectively with the group and support other documents including the Call to Action from Small-Scale Fishers and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.

The Cluster aims to harness the knowledge, reach and collective muscle of the RISE UP network and platform to engage small-scale fishers, IPLCs and coastal communities as rights holders to support their efforts towards forming a global grassroots movement for change. The group will identify opportunities, at an international level, for meaningful engagement in decision-making processes in the lead up to the UN Ocean Conference in 2025. The ultimate goal is to recognise the important role of SSF in marine conservation and improve governance and policy frameworks to support small-scale fishers and protect the ocean.

Building Resilient Small-Scale Fisheries: Moving Towards Equity and Justice

OCEANS 20/G20 Ocean Dialogues 2024 (Brazil)

RISE UP in collaboration with Ilhas do Rio Project, Indonesian Traditional Fisherfolk Union (KNTI), Linha D’agua, AWFISHNET, National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers and Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI) convened an Ocean Dialogue under the auspices of the Oceans 20

During this event, experts and leaders shared insights and exchanged knowledge, resulting in a comprehensive set of policy recommendations aimed at the need to build resilient small-scale fisheries by developing national strategic plans, by 2030, that are adequately funded and are guided by the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries. These recommendations will be considered when drafting the final Oceans 20 Communiqué.

You can watch the Webinar here and we invite you to download the detailed policy recommendations document to explore the actions required by various stakeholders to achieve these critical objectives. 

How can you help?

If you are a RISE UP member interested in joining the SSF cluster, write to us at

Follow and share the Rules of Conduct for working with small-scale fishers and fishworkers to save our ocean