El Salvador

A national consultation was organized on the VG SSF Guidelines in El Salvador on 13 and 14 December 2011. Thanks to arrangements made by the Fundación Nacional para el Desarrollo (FUNDE) in cooperation with FACOPADES de R.L. and FECOOPAZ de R.L, artisanal fishworkers representing more than 121 cooperatives from inland and marine fisheries were able to participate.


Pescadores artesanales de aguas marinas y continentales, representantes de más de 121 cooperativas miembros de FACOPADES de R.L y FECOOPAZ de R.L en El Salvador participaron en el Seminario sobre “Pesca artesanal sostenible: hacia las directrices de la FAO sobre pesca marina y continental en pequeña escala”, convocados por la Fundación Nacional para el Desarrollo (FUNDE) el 13 y 14 de diciembre de 2011..

For workshop images, para imagenes de la consulta  https://picasaweb.google.com/laura.mejia03/TallerCIAPA1314Dic2011#5695735879223150178

Seminar on “Sustainable artisanal fishing: towards the FAO Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-scale 

Marine and Inland Fisheries, at international level” 

13 – 14 December 2011

San Salvador, El Salvador

 We, artisanal fishermen from marine and inland areas, representing more than 121 member cooperatives of the federation of fishers’ cooperatives FACOPADES (R.L) and FECOOPAZ (R.L) in El Salvador, invited by the National Foundation for Development (FUNDE) to participate in the Seminar about “Sustainable Artisanal Fishing: towards FAO guidelines for small-scale marine and inland fisheries, at international level”, urge the government of El Salvador to consider the following aspects.


In El Salvador we consider that artisanal fisheries include the extractive activities carried out both in (inland) water bodies and in maritime waters, where manual techniques dominate and vessels of no longer than 12 metres length are used. That said, the definition should include activities that encompass fishing with hooks, vessels using motors, which depending on their capacity, may extend up to 15 metres in length.  

Small-scale artisanal fisheries constitute a strategic sector in the economies of developing countries and perform a key role in providing livelihoods for millions of families around the world.

 In El Salvador there are some 27,600 artisanal fishermen, of whom 23,400 are men and 4,200 women, accounting for 42% of the total marine and inland fishing production of the country.[1] Moreover, artisanal fishing creates important linkages that generate a considerable number of indirect jobs and combats hunger and poverty in rural parts of the country.

Nevertheless, El Salvador’s fishery resources are now in an alarming state, falling far short of their productive potential and thus affecting the living conditions not only for those of us who depend on this economic activity but also of society in general.

To optimize the benefits derived from exploiting fishery resources (protein sources, and employment and revenue), regulation must ensure their use is managed in ways that adequately promote quality of life for the people with an emphasis on future generations.

We must strive for an effective and efficient system of governance and planning in marine and inland waters which allows for control of fleet capacity and overfishing for the benefit of resource sustainability both in this country and in the Central American region as a whole.

The measures adopted with regard to the national fisheries and aquaculture sector have a profound effect on the environment, but social and economic factors should be taken account of in all the possible solutions.

We therefore submit:

We demand that the Government of El Salvador take into account our proposals and support the voluntary guidelines to secure sustainable small-scale fisheries and the protection of the rights of artisanal fishing communities. This process is being led at a global level by the FAO.

 In view of the above, we set out the following concerns and proposals.

 Governance of Resources, Access Regimes and Compliance:

 1.       Active participation must be promoted between central government, ministries, local governments and fisheries institutions with artisanal fishing communities, harmonising individual, sectoral and social perspectives and adopting measures that contribute to food security.

2.        Respect, protect and secure the right of artisanal fishing communities to access fishery resources and fishing zones, recognising their use of selective fishing gear.

3.       The Executive should encourage the development of economically sustainable Salvadoran fisheries, striking a balance between extractive activities and the protection and restoration of the fisheries environment, as well as the social and economic development of those who depend on these activities.

4.       The government authorities should protect those areas where the reproductive cycles of fishery resources are at risk, so that they may be legally designated as a reserve.  

5.       The relevant bodies should guarantee the legal security of any lands belonging to fishermen and fisherwomen where problems are encountered with the legal title of this asset.  

6.       Ensure that the General Law on Fisheries and Aquaculture Management and Promotion in El Salvador is rigorously observed, as well as the conventions, policies, treaties, rules and regulations agreed to at Central American and international levels.  

7.       Diffuse and incorporate in the chain the principle of co-responsibility, in which both public actors charged with elaborating, administering and monitoring fisheries policies; and fishermen’s organisations, industrial and aquaculture,  have a shared responsibility to achieve the development of responsible fisheries and aquaculture.

 Social and Economic Development.

1.       Guarantee that fishermen and fisherwomen have access to such basic services as drinking water, sanitation, electrification and decent housing, particularly those who are in municipalities with extreme poverty.

2.       Link artisanal fishermen’s organisations to national and regional rural and agricultural development programmes, to enable them to gain the financial resources needed to develop new ventures or ones that complement fishery activity, contributing to the diversification of income and employment sources.   

3.      Include the fishing and aquaculture sector within welfare and social security systems, in view of the risks inherent in fishery activities and the conditions in which they are carried out.

4.     Incentivise and support any fishermen’s cooperatives that are in a condition to upgrade their infrastructure for the development of tourist activity as part of the diversification of income and the creation of local employment. 

5.       Promote literacy campaigns for adults, with an emphasis on women, in order to reduce illiteracy rates amongst artisanal fishing communities, and in co-ordination with the Ministry of Education, NGOs and Local Governments.  Programmes to retain the sons and daughters of artisanal fishermen in elementary and higher education should be promoted.  

6.       Encourage managerial training programmes for artisanal fishermen’s cooperatives and associations in matters of business management: financial administration, accountancy, budgeting, project management, business plans and strategic and internal control systems.

Risks of Disasters and Climate Change for Maritime and Inland Artisanal Fisheries.

1.       Natural disasters and climate change represent a high risk to the development of fisheries for they restrict fishermen’s main or only source of income, which hinders their ability to obtain food and other basic necessities. It is for these reasons that work must be done directly to prevent, mitigate, and adapt to, the effects of climate change on fisheries.

2.       Training and support programmes should be implemented for fishing communities on vulnerability and protection in cases of disasters, so that communities are better organised to respond to emergencies and to rehabilitate coastal and inland areas prone to flooding.

3.       The artisanal fisheries sector should be included within the Civil Protection System, because in flood situations it has performed an important role in making available its tools of the trade (boats) to move the population out of harm’s way.

4.       Mechanisms should be developed at local level to ensure compliance with the ban on cutting mangroves and to promote their recovery in a programme aimed at protecting and reproducing fish species harvestable in the mangroves.  

5.       A process should be pursued to decontaminate inland water bodies and to ensure that preventative programmes are complied with in order to avoid their recontamination.    

6.       Clean-up campaigns should be promoted in the estuaries, basins, bays and beaches in order to raise awareness and sensitivity to the importance of conserving fish stocks.     

7.       Immediate government support mechanisms should be created and targeted at the artisanal fisheries sector for losses caused by emergencies and natural disasters to its work tools, housing and suchlike.  

Employment and Value Chains in Post-Harvest Activities

1.       It is necessary to favour the sector by guaranteeing market prices that give artisanal fishermen the higher return they need and allowing them to obtain levels of profitability that ensure a sustained growth in income and employment generation, improving the quality of life of this population.  

2.       Government authorities may develop a Market Intelligence Programme specifically for commercially valuable fishery products, which provides fishermen with opportune information about the market situation, trends, future prices and main centres.

3.       Fair competition needs to be guaranteed in the fisheries products’ market, with strict control being established over the impact of illegal, unregulated and unreported fisheries which result in the saturation of local markets driving down prices.

4.       Artisanal fisheries should be incorporated into special programmes promoting business partnerships for co-operatives and artisanal fishermen’s organisations, and technical assistance provided for drawing up business plans.  

5.       Financial and technical assistance should be provided to support the implementation of good practices in the extraction and processing stages which guarantee that consumers receive a quality product.

6.       Strategic alliances should be forged with local governments to set projects in motion to improve rural roads, quays and slipways, and so reduce the costs of transporting products from the wharfs to commercial centres.  

7.  Ensure that technically and financially sustainable programmes are implemented for developing a quality fisheries product for the consumer: application of an artisanal brand, packaging process, product conservation, etc.  

8.       Awareness raising campaigns should be launched on the virtues of consuming national fisheries products for the population’s food security.

9.       Mechanisms should be created to permit organisations of artisanal fishermen and fish farmers to access and use the seasonally flooded lands of reservoirs and lakes, allowing them to diversify their productive activities and incomes.

Social and Gender Equality

1.        Recognition should be given to the important role played by women in the fisheries sector, both as entrepreneurs and as workers, being especially involved in the post-harvest stages like processing and trading. There are also women involved in fish-harvesting activities, repairing nets, maintaining launches and boats, even though there are proportionately fewer of them than men.

2.       Recognition should be given to the fundamental role exercised by women in household food security and in the community developing activities orientated towards conserving inland and coastal fishery resources.    

3.       Women, men, the young, the old, and minority populations should be assured fair access on an equal basis to use, control and to benefit from, the goods and services made available by the state for the development of the artisanal fisheries and aquaculture sector.

4.       The participation of all (men and women) in decision-taking should be promoted with respect not only to fisheries governance but also the realm of the social, economic, political, cultural and organisational life of artisanal fishing communities.

5.       Fishermen’s cooperatives and associations should develop committees of entrepreneurial women and youth that can become involved in the work of the organisation with the possibility to take on duties at managerial and operational levels.  

6.       Develop within the concept of artisanal fishing the inclusion of both inland and marine fisheries, whilst ensuring that policies directed to the sector take into account their similar and diverging needs.

7.       Elderly men and women from the artisanal fishery should be incorporated into the Programmes relating to the Law on Comprehensive Care for the Elderly, guaranteeing them healthcare in rural areas and incorporating special measures to cover the retirement pensions which they don’t benefit from.

Policy Coherence, Co-ordination and Institutional Collaboration.

1.       The Executive, Legislative Assembly, Judiciary and those government institutions involved in the fisheries sector, such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), Centre for the Development of Fishery and Aquaculture (CENDEPESCA), mayors’ offices, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MARN), Ministry of Tourism (MITUR), and micro-regions, should share a common vision of developing the country’s fisheries and unify ideas about how to improve the conditions of artisanal and inland fishermen.  

2.       Dialogue should be fostered between the different stakeholders involved in developing the fisheries and aquaculture sector in order to drive through legal and institutional reforms for legislating and developing both sectors. (General Law on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Management and Promotion, Law on Creating the PESCAR (Responsible Artisanal Fisheries) Trust, Law Eliminating the Road Maintenance Fund, Law on Cooperativism, amongst others.).

3.       The Government, especially the Executive, should ensure the development of the artisanal fisheries sector, establishing a forum for dialogue between local governments, producers and distributors about the problems facing them.

4.       A mechanism should be established to enable national/local, cross-institutional co-ordination between the entities linked to Fisheries and Aquaculture authorities (MAG, CENDEPESCA), Local Governments, Executive Commission on Hydroelectricity (CEL), MAG, MARN, Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MINEC), International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), Health Ministry, Finance Ministry, STAE, Territorial Development Council, National Court on the Right of Asylum (CNDA), Cooperation, and others, with the participation of organised artisanal fishermen, so as to define an Agenda and Action Plan for topics of interest to the sector (programmed closures, use of seasonally flooded lands, clean-up and reforestation campaigns, legal and institutional reforms, security, etc.)

5.       A process should be initiated gradually decentralising services assisting artisanal fishermen in order to streamline procedures for registering craft, identity cards, granting of permits and other requests, providing incentives for unregulated fishermen to formalise their situation. This process should include simplifying and automating some services, as this will help the public administration and business climate to become more efficient.

6.       Artisanal fishermen operating on the high seas and inland water bodies should be guaranteed protection, via the coordination of security measures between competent authorities.  This requires the rapid administration of liability measures for damages suffered by fishermen or their equipment, by other artisanal fishermen or by larger-scale fishing vessels.

Research and Information, Needs and Sources of Exchange

1.       Strategic alliances for cooperation should be developed between Universities and Applied Research Centres in order to encourage scientific and technical research projects, innovation and technology transfer in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, in coordination with artisanal fishermen’s associations, especially with regard to conserving fishery resources.  

2.       Evaluate the  feasibility of creating a National Institute Specialising in Fisheries and Aquaculture (INEPESCA), like those that exist in other Central American countries. This should incorporate a specialised unit dedicated to transferring new technologies to the artisanal fishery.

3.       Ensure the participation of the artisanal fisheries sector in validating statistical data concerning both the socio-economic situation of the sector and the production and commercialisation processes.  

4.       Encourage the establishment of agreements with regional centres specialising in fisheries and aquaculture in order to promote scientific cooperation in areas of production, processing, packaging, labelling and manufacture of sub-products based on fish, viscera and other waste products from the process.

5.       The executive should guarantee the permanent transfer of funds for technical and scientific research into fishery resources.

Capacity-Building, Support for Implementation and Monitoring.

1.       A consistent practice of transparency and accountability should be promoted in the administration of public policy, in order to improve the fisheries sector’s institutional framework and to strengthen credibility and confidence in the institutions.

2.       Programmes should be provided to strengthen and guide training so that fishermen can monitor compliance with approved regulations, legislation, and guidelines.    

3.       The follow-up, monitoring and evaluation of laws, regulations and declarations on fisheries adopted at national and international level should be accessible for the key actors in the chain and effective and representative participation should be encouraged, with a view to improving policy management in support of the artisanal fisheries sector. 

4.       Government authorities should provide technical assistance to initiatives arising “from” the sector and “for” the artisanal fisheries sector; treating them differently from the rest of traditional industrial fisheries, but which in turn promotes meetings between both stakeholders with a view to encouraging sharing of knowledge, technologies and information, and development of human resource capacities, in order to promote efficiency and competitiveness in the fisheries and aquaculture sector at national level.

Taking into account all of the above, we call on the Government of the Republic of El Salvador to review the General Law on the Management and Promotion of Fisheries and Aquaculture of El Salvador and to establish as many regulations deriving from this as may be necessary in order to guarantee sustainable fisheries and protection of the rights of communities that depend on this activity, advocating their food security.

In preparing the voluntary Guidelines for sustainable artisanal fishing, we also invite the FAO to extract from our Declaration any elements they consider opportune.  

[1] Centroamérica en Cifras, Pesca artesanal y Acuicultura, SICA-OSPESCA 

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