Hunger and food insecurity are widespread problems. According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (2019), more than 820 million people in the world were still hungry in 2018. This problem is likely to get worse given the expected increase in the world’s population and the stress on natural resources in times of unsustainable industrial fisheries and agriculture. Michael Fakhri is a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law where he teaches courses on human rights, food law, development, and commercial law. He is the current UN Special Rapporteur, focusing on the right to food and securing sustainable small-scale fisheries. He reports to the Human Rights Council and has asked for inputs by end November 2023.

Mundus maris was among the many organisations submitting an input to the Special Rapporteur. Because we support small-scale fisheries organisations particularly in West Africa, we joined an input developed with a focus on the harmful effects on coastal communities of overboarding oil and gas exploration, exploitation and transport. "From exploration and drilling in the seabed, to coastal processing, subsea pipelines, and overseas shipping of fossil fuels—offshore oil and gas activity poses a growing threat to the rights, livelihoods, and food security of fisherfolk around the world. Offshore projects are growing in number, and today represent more than 30% of global oil and gas production." 

As formerly well to do small-scale fishing communities are already hard hit from overfishing largely through subsidised industrial fleets from abroad, the destruction meted out to them by fossil installations on former fishing grounds, in marine protected areas for resource recovery, through port and other coastal infrastructure displacing people from their working and living spaces, all this adds significantly to denying their basic human rights." Women tend to be particularly badly affected as they tend to be overburdened with work for long hours, but denied recognition and voice.

Offshore oil and gas activity also harms fishers and fishworkers through its climate impacts. Offshore projects have outsized yet largely underreported climate footprints due to emissions from the common industry practice of gas flaring, methane leaks from offshore and coastal infrastructure, and the massive amounts of energy needed to power production operations. They also release enormous quantities of greenhouse gases during transport and through the emissions that are the inescapable consequence of the end use of the produced oil and gas as intended.

We are happy that the Special Rapporteur will cast a bright light on the need for food security, safe living and working conditions and other basic human rights of small-scale fishers who should be supported and respected as the natural guardians of a healthy ocean and providers of healthy seafood.

Click here to see the input provided with the indication of all supporters.