A new report for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Coherence for Development (CODE) explores the role of fisheries and aquaculture for sustainable development, economic growth and global food security. It also examines how policies related to trade, governance and regulatory regimes impact on the fisheries sector and may contribute to maximise the benefits of sustainable development.
Policy coherence for development (PCD) is defined in the report as being a process for taking into consideration the economic, social, environmental and governance dimensions of sustainable development at all stages of policymaking.
PCD in fisheries and aquaculture is considered an important part of unlocking further growth potential. By identifying and exploiting positive synergies across policy areas and sectors in the economic, social and environmental domains, PCD may help create enabling environments that support countries on their path towards inclusive, sustainable growth and development.
The report examines key policy areas for action, including:
- using government financial transfers more effectively;
- fostering a well-functioning trading system, avoiding unnecessary obstacles to trade;
- addressing IUU fishing;
- designing more efficient fisheries access agreements.
On the last, the report points out that access agreements often generate overcapacity, potentially “crowding out” local fishing and undermining livelihoods. They often comprise a large part of the host country’s budget, making reform difficult, which might lead to corruption.
The report nevertheless expresses support for “properly designed fisheries access agreements”: market-based instruments can ensure that market forces play a role in valuing access, for example, when the authorities auction fishing licences or rights to fleets, and ensure a fair return for the host country.
Policy Coherence for Development is also recognised as a major principle that should be guiding the EU–ACP fisheries relations. Several of the “areas for action” highlighted in this OECD report – such as addressing IUU fishing, avoiding unnecessary obstacles to trade or designing more efficient access agreements – provide an interesting framework for assessing how PCD is implemented within existing EU–ACP fisheries relations. Regarding fishing agreements, it should be noted that the report points out that such agreements can have potential detrimental impacts on local fishing communities’ livelihoods, while, at the same time, promote the use of market-based instruments for valuing access, such as auctioning fishing licences or selling rights to foreign fleets. A number of experiences around the world (e.g. individual transferable quotas in South Africa, Chile, Iceland; catch shares in US) show that by concentrating fishing rights in the hands of those who have important capital at their disposal, these approaches to fisheries management can displace local communities and undermine their livelihoods.