Fish and seafood is one of the most traded food commodities in the world. In recent years, exports reached a value of 153 US$ billion in 2017, up about 8 percent compared to 2016. Some 38 per cent of the world production enters international trade and over 50 percent of this trade originates in developing countries. The net trade income for these countries (export – import), valued at US$ 36 billion in 2016, is greater than all other agricultural commodities combined. However, value added contributions - although challenging to proxy - suggest improvements could be made in order to more effectively harness the power of trade within value chains and their related services.
In Pacific Small Island Development States (SIDS), fishing can provide between 30 and 80 per cent of their exports – a result of the presence of large Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and the value captured from highly prized fish species, such as tuna. Likewise, the share of fish trade flows for some West African countries represents as much as 12 per cent of their GDP. Around 58 million people are directly employed in fisheries and aquaculture, with some 200 million direct and indirect employment opportunities occurring along the value chain from harvesting to distribution. As a consequence, the livelihoods of some 660 to 880 million people are dependent on the sector. However, the basis of this prosperity is fragile and wild stocks are under increasing pressure.
In 2016, global capture fishery production consisted of 81.5 million tonnes from marine waters and 10.3 million tonnes from inland waters. Since the early 2000s, despite a relatively steady total capture, the state of the world’s marine fish stocks have not improved, although notable progress has been observed in some areas or species. The share of fish stocks below biologically sustainable levels (overfished) increased from 10 per cent in 1974 to 31.4 per cent in 2013. The fully fished stocks represented 58.1% in 2013 and require effective management regimes to ensure they don’t become overfished. Given this trend, the role of aquaculture in meeting current and future demand will be significant, as estimates indicate that by 2030 around two third of the total seafood output will be farmed.
Global value chains (GVCs) in the fishing and seafood sector (including other marine species such as crustaceans, mollusks and seaweed) tend to be vertically integrated, as in the case of other agricultural commodities. They are often characterized by hierarchical structures of governance, where chain drivers exert a strong degree of control. In such cases, importers and retailers generally have more influence setting conditions for production methods, price arrangements and other contractual conditions. However, the associated activities of trade within GVCs are diverse.
Fisheries related services activities are diverse and include fishing harbours, landing sites, refrigeration and processing facilities, maritime and logistical services, insurance, financial services, maintenance and repair of fishing vessels, and related hotel and restauration services. The linkages between the fisheries sector to others can be strong though are not always effectively harnessed so as to enhance value addition. Nevertheless, all of these related activities provide significant employment and economic benefits to both countries and local coastal communities, especially in coastal and island developing countries.
In capture fisheries and aquaculture, opportunities exist to extend current value chains in both upstream activities (e.g. vessel support services or support services to farms) and downstream activities (e.g. processing output into higher-value products). The extent to which the value chain can be extended will ultimately be determined by the total value realised from the harvesting/farming activity, the availability or capacity to harvest or farm the resource, and the product's market potential. However, the institutional context within which value chain led trade takes place, also exerts a strong influence on the potential for expansion.
A systems wide approach is therefore required, which situates fish and seafood value chains within the context of a broader oceans/blue economy, in recognition of the linkages between sectors. Through such an approach, multiplier effects can be harnessed without additional pressure on the natural resource base. Through enabling trade and the diffusion of technology and knowledge, value chains are also the vehicles through which new forms of production, technologies, logistics, labour conditions and organizational relations and networks are introduced. Participating in multiple value chains which service different sectors can enhance the diversification of inputs (e.g. seaweed) and outputs (e.g. nutraceuticals).
In order for coastal and insular developing countries to increase value addition in the seafood sector, ensuring interlinkages with other key sectors, such as transport, logistics and tourism services, must be a key priority in their oceans/blue economy strategies. This has been demonstrated for Mauritius, Seychelles and Cape Verde, where blue economy, sustainable fisheries and value addition in the seafood sector are considered as a central axis of their national development strategies. UNCTAD, FAO, UN Environment and partners intend to support other countries to develop their own oceans economy and trade strategies in order to improve value addition, market access, diversification and environmental and social sustainability.
In line with the values already ascribed to within the Commonwealth Charter, the Commonwealth Blue Charter for sustainable ocean development establishes guiding principles for its members in relation to sustainable oceans economy development. The advancement of a regenerative development process - as opposed to regressive trajectories and vicious growth cycles – which encompasses the oceans economy is in essence, solution-orientated.
The Forum will seek to identify challenges and opportunities that sustainability and further integration of the seafood value chain and related services (transport, port and logistical services, etc.) may offer within the framework of the oceans/blue economy. To do so, the Forum will provide state of the art analysis and countries experiences, and identify public and private best practices that can generate policy recommendations and propose specific actions to meet the trade-related targets of SDG 14 (Targets 4, 6, 7 and b).
The Forum will also seek a set of policy recommendations and actions to be considered in the advancement of the implementation of SDG 14 by Member States, in the multilateral trade system and in the SDG monitoring exercise within the United Nations. Such recommendations and actions will build upon existing United Nations Conference outcomes (such as the Future We Want of the Rio +20 Conference, the Call for Action of the 2017 United Nations Ocean Conference, the Nairobi Maafikiano of UNCTAD 14 and relevant United Nations General Assembly Resolutions), FAO, UNEP and UNECE agreements and instruments, soft law and other trade related instruments.
The Oceans Forum has become a unique periodical global platform to take stock, exchange experiences and offer option for the implementation on trade-related targets of SDG 14 that include the involvement of leading United Nations Agencies, regional bodies, government institutions and civil society organizations.
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SujetTrade and environment
- 1st Oceans Forum on trade-related aspects of Sustainable Development Goal 14
- 3rd Oceans Forum on trade-related aspects of Sustainable Development Goal 14
- 4th Oceans Forum on trade-related aspects of Sustainable Development Goal 14
Mr. Marcio CastroDeSouza, Marcio Marcio.CastroDeSouza@fao.org
Ms. Anja von Moltke firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Jodie Keane email@example.com
Mr. Peter Wekesa firstname.lastname@example.org
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World Trade Organization
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