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World Fisheries Day is celebrated every year on 21 November around the globe. This year's motto focused on social sustainability and working conditions in the fisheries sector. The idea of World Fisheries Day originated in 1997 at the World Fisheries Forum in New Delhi, India. It was proposed by a group of supporters of small-scale fisheries and environmentalists who recognized the need to raise awareness about the importance of fisheries and the challenges they face. Since World War II, subsidy driven overcapacity in industrial fishing fleets has led to sequential overfishing and expansion into the last corner of the ocean contributing to mass species extinction and declining catches.

Climate change with a warming ocean with less oxygen and growing acidification adds to the strain on marine ecosystems and their resources. Small-scale fisheries (SSF) usually deploying low impact gear account for approximately a quarter of the global wild fish food production and 90% of the workforce, both men and women. Many SSF are in a serious crisis mode as the bases of their livelihoods get eroded by overfishing and poor governance.

"On World Fisheries Day, we urgently call on leaders engaged in International and UN negotiations to acknowledge, endorse and actively involve small-scale fishers and fish workers, Indigenous people and local communities within discussions and decisions aimed at restoring a healthy ocean and healthy inland waters. Crucially, this must include establishing transparent and accountable mechanisms that ensure the inclusion and active participation of those groups in meetings, delegations, side-events and agreements as well as working to support their inclusion in the subsequent implementation of the agreements."

Thus was the opening of an Open Letter to ministers in charge of fisheries in many countries, organisations of fishers and fish workers, researchers, environmental NGOs and civil society organisations working for a healthy ocean and healthy people on a healthy planet.

"Today, as we celebrate World Fisheries Day to highlight the importance of sustainable fish populations in the world, we call for the support of small-scale fisheries, Indigenous peoples and local communities and their equitable participation in the global decisions and agreements related to the marine resources important for their livelihoods and socio-cultural well-being, including the High-Level Event for Ocean Action in 2024 in Costa Rica, the FAO Committee on Fisheries 2024, the CBD COP16, the UN Climate COP29, and the UN Ocean Conference in 2025."

Mundus maris supports this Open Letter and contributed to its development, particularly through active participation in the Small-Scale Fisheries Cluster of RISE UP.  Read the Open Letter here. We invite all readers and interested people to join our efforts and those of the large coalition. Contact us at info(at)mundusmaris.org.

For more information on the Blue Call for Action of the initiative RISE UP for the Ocean click here.