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Asia-Pacific dialogue report says there is a need for policy investment

June 2021

UN Food Systems Summit 2021 | Independent Dialogue Series in Asia Pacific (7/6-11/6)

Lily Chow, a woman fisher from Fiji recently emphasised several key messages including gender IMAGE: Supplied

Small scale fishers have recommended the need for policy investment and policy research in fisheries ahead of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021 in September.

Issues on the poor economic status and often marginalized social status of fishers’ has left the voice of many  across the Asia-Pacific Region unheard by policy makers.

The Asian Farmers Association said the Asia region contributed about 68% of the global catch in the fishery sector, while providing around 80% of employment in the region, many of whom the majority are small scale fishers.

The Asia-Pacific dialogue report by the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network said “small scale fishers are facing a crisis” in addition to climate change and depletion of species with “constant debate on who gets the priority – development, or democracy, or the environment”.

It also cited the importance of accessibility to markets to increase fishers’ income.

Ravadee Prasettcharoensuk, the Executive Director of Sustainable Development Foundation said: “There is a need to create a Department of Fisheries or National Statistics to formally include the small-scale fishers including fisher women because there is no guarantee they are included in the planning stages when the government creates a policy.”

Lily Chow, a woman fisher from the Pacific, emphasised several key messages including gender.

“We need to do more to support women in fisheries’ many of us are actively involved in selling fish and we can thrive in this area but we’re facing many challenges”.

Esther Penunia, Asian Farmers Association secretary general said access and control of natural resources was a “contentious issue”.

“Fisher folks face hurdles to access the seas, beaches, to park their boats and drive their nets due to indiscriminate grabbing of coastal lands for tourism and other industrial purposes”.

“Existing social schemes, various pensions and insurance schemes fall short of their needs simply because schemes are not developed with their issues and challenges in mind.”

Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network manager, Lavinia Kaumaitotoya said many government pensions schemes in the Pacific have a mandatory age of attainment at 60 years and that gender issues add to the industry’s lack of recognition.

“It is almost near impossible  for fishermen or women to carry on fishing up to the age of 60 to feed his or her family because it is hazardous and strenuous for them. Frugal old age pension is inadequate for decent living for fisherwomen on top of these challenges”.

Co-organized by the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development and the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (9/6), the dialogue also acknowledged the pivotal role aquatic food systems address in complex food and nutrition security issues.

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