NGO Documents for the Earth Summit, 1992
Non-Governmental Organization Alternative Treaties
at the '92 Global Forum
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Treaty 22. Fisheries Treaty
1. Fishery resources are a vital source of food and make a valuable economic
contribution to the peoples of the world.
2. Traditional fisherfolk, including artisanal, indigenous and small-scale fishers and
fishworkers are among the poorest and most socially, politically and economically
disadvantaged segments of society.
3. Fishers around the world face resource depletion, loss of access to resources,
competition from industrial and distant water fleets. The resource itself suffers
ecosystem destruction from various sources, including industrial and urban pollution,
overfishing and destructive and non-discriminatory fishing technology.
4. Fisherfolk organizations and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) recognize
these problems and pledge to work together to achieve the following objectives:
a. support fishers and fishing communities
b. conserve and protect aquatic ecosystems.
In addressing these concerns, we agree that:
5. Artisanal Fisheries. Priority should be given to artisanal fisheries in recognition
of their importance as a source of food for local consumption, income and employment and a
means of promoting community stability, resource conservation and the environmental
protection of marine, coastal and inland waters areas.
6. Ecologically Sound Practices. Fisheries should be conducted in a manner that is
ecologically sound to sustain the resource for present and future generations and that is
socially just, respecting cultural, biological and ecosystem diversity.
7. Equitable Principles. Access to fishery resources should recognize the needs of
fishery communities and be based on equitable principles and respect for the environment,
not solely on political power and the availability of technology and capital.
8. Ecosystem Approach. Fisheries should be managed from an ecosystem perspective,
utilizing integrated management principles which take into consideration human activities
leading to degradation of aquatic ecosystems and the environment, such as: inappropriate
and destructive agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and fishing practices; land-based and
sea-based sources of pollution; and development for tourism, urban and industrial
purposes. The common recognition of, and agreement to act to solve, these problems are the
main challenges facing the cooperative endeavors of fishers, environmental NGOs and
9. Participation. Successful management of fisheries and other factors affecting the
aquatic environments should have the full and meaningful participation of all interested
parties including fishers, particularly those with traditional knowledge and experience,
environmental NGOs, development NGOs and scientists.
10. Women in Fisheries. It is essential that the vital role of women in fisheries and
integrated community development should be recognized and supported and that the women
participate at all levels in decisions affecting these matters.
11. Precautionary Approach and Environmental Impact Assessments. A precautionary
approach should be taken in making decisions that affect fisheries and aquatic
environments, including the use of environmental impact assessments.
12. High Seas Fishing. The special rights and needs of coastal states and coastal
fishing communities with respect to straddling stocks and highly migratory species under
the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) should be recognized. All
high seas fishing must be subject to a legally binding regime which takes into account the
ecosystem effects on the high seas as well as in the adjacent coastal waters. Any
environmental standards negotiated for fishing on the high seas should apply to fisheries
for straddling stocks and highly migratory species in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs).
13. Basic Rights. Basic rights, including human rights, as provided in national and
international laws, agreements and conventions should be observed for fishers, fishworkers
and in all sectors, and that minimum standards of safe working conditions must be
developed, adopted and applied. It is essential to recognize and apply the basic rights of
fisherfolk including, for example to:
a. form their own organizations which can participate by voting in national planning
commissions, fisheries management decision and fisheries development plans
b. have marine and inland water zones reserved exclusively for artisanal fishing
c. have access to credit and social services.
14. We recognize the needs for common action to improve the quality of life of
fisherfolk and fishworkers based on the principles set out in this treaty.
15. Recognizing that fisheries should be conducted using a comprehensive ecosystem
approach, we recommend that:
a. all existing technologies which reduce by-catch and protect aquatic ecosystems be
implemented and the development of others be encouraged
b. technologies determined to be non-selective or otherwise harmful to the aquatic
environment be restricted or eliminated
c. fisheries management incorporate enforcement mechanisms and establish effective
d. an internationally binding regime for high seas fisheries be negotiated that
includes mechanisms to ensure compliance with the United Nations Driftnet Moratorium
16. Recognizing the need to enhance knowledge of aquatic ecosystems, we encourage
support for research programs to increase our understanding of the relationships between
aquatic organisms and their environment and to determine ecologically appropriate fishery
yields. Such programs should enlist the cooperation of all peoples and recognize
traditional and indigenous knowledge and methods.
17. Recognizing the need for cooperation among fishers, environmental NGOs and
development NGOs, we encourage such mechanisms as: information exchange, reciprocal visits
and training (for example, establishing programs within all of our organizations for
personnel exchange which facilitates mutual understanding and the sharing of knowledge and
skills); developing or strengthening organizations to facilitate cooperation; joint
action; and cooperative action with respect to national and international policy, law,
investment and aid.
18. We recognize that only some groups could participate in the fisheries discussions
in Rio de Janeiro's Global Forum and that broad participation and agreement of the above
principles is needed.
19. The signers of this treaty agree to work together to help facilitate regional
networks, following the above principles, of small-scale fishers' organizations,
environmental groups, development NGOs and other concerned interests, with a view to
holding a world conference on fisheries and environment in Rome in 1994. This conference
will be organized a decade after the first international meeting of artisanal fisherfolk
and support organizations held in 1984, concurrently with the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) Conference.
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