The Director General of FAO, QU Dongyu, opened the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022) in a virtual event organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on 19 November 2021. In attendance were senior government officials and representatives of small-scale fishers and aquaculturists.

The programme started with an institutional video illustrating the great diversity of small scale producers, processors and traders in inland and marine capture fisheries and aquaculture.

They may be small in size of individual production, but big in terms of employment, contribution to food security particularly in Africa and Asia, and very big in value - estimated at USD 77 billion per year. High quality, nutritious food of particular importance for women in child-bearing age and infants in the first 1000 days of their lives.

Women tend to be still poorly recognised and paid - if at all - for their multiple types of work in all segments of fisheries and aquaculture value chains.

The chair of the activities to celebrate the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022, many orchestrated by FAO, is the current minister of production of Peru, José Rogger Incio Sánchez (top left). Vice-chairs are Editrudith Lukanga representing several major international organisations of small-scale fishers and fish workers (top right), and Rohana Subasinghe representing the small-scale aquaculture sector (bottom left). The voiced their revendications for greater recognition and support, in particular also a forceful implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication. This is where Mundus maris is focusing its attention through support to the Small-Scale Fisheries Academy. Rita Miguez de la Iglesia (bottom right), mariscadora (women shellfish harvester) in Galicia, Spain, and founding president of the Asociación Nacional de Mujeres de la Pesca (ANMUPESCA) who drew attention to the harsh, yet passionate work of the once barefoot women harvesting cockles and other shellfish in the tidal zone. Thanks to some support from the European Union and evolving attitudes, they even gained access to leadership positions in the traditionally male dominated cofradías (organisations for professional representation). But there remains a lot to be done.

The full video of the virtual launch event can be accessed here (in English and Spanish). Lots of work ahead for all of us to advance together towards implementing the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries and the rights of small-scale operators in artisanal fisheries and aquaculture, men and women. Mundus maris is on board.