Promotion of environmentally friendly and socially responsible fishing and aquaculture

Project description

Title: Sector project ‘Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture’
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2017 to 2020



Fisheries and aquaculture provide a livelihood for around twelve per cent of the world’s population, especially in developing countries. However, worldwide fish stocks are being exploited to their limits or beyond. More responsible fishing and aquaculture are therefore essential from an ecological, eco-nomic and social perspective.

Since developing countries are often only just beginning to embrace ecologically sound and socially responsible fishery management, they need help to establish the pertinent legal basis, also with a view to creating environments that will encourage businesses to invest in the local value chain. International economic and political interests also impact the effectiveness of fisheries management in developing countries. For example, fisheries subsidies disproportionately benefit large industrial fisheries, thus driving global overfishing. Moreover, many fisheries lack effective monitoring and control systems to protect aquatic resources. Action is also required with regard to the systems used to certify ecologi-cally sustainable fish products. At present, these systems do not properly acknowledge the situation of small-scale fisheries or take adequate account of social criteria, such as the observance of human rights.


International fishing policies are coordinated and create incentives for the socially and ecologically sound management of fish. Small-scale fisheries and fish farmers manage their businesses responsi-bly, contributing to food and nutrition security, income generation and resource conservation. 



The sector project operates on a supraregional scale. It supports the policy-making of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with respect to international fish-ing and the promotion of environmentally friendly aquaculture. In this respect, the project is aligned with BMZ’s 10-point Plan of Action for Marine Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries and follows the guidelines defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 

Moreover, the project promotes the development and testing of innovations in the fisheries and aqua-culture sector. It also harnesses studies, results and experience and uses the findings as a basis for policy and strategy consultancy. 


  • The project has supported the preliminary assessment of a coastal fishery in Madagascar with re-gard to possible certification in the context of the ‘Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)’. In addition to improvements for local fishing in the pilot area, the project serves as a model for other small-scale fisheries by encouraging them to use certification to gain access to international markets, increase local value creation and improve income. The project is part of the international South-West Indian Ocean Octopus Project (SWIOCeph). 
  • The sector project has supported a global multi-stakeholder partnership tasked with strengthening good governance in fishing, namely the ‘Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI)’. New standards have been developed together with various stakeholders and are set to increase transparency and participation in fisheries management. 
  • In 2013, the project collaborated with representatives from academia, business and civil society to launch the ‘Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI)’. This multi-stakeholder partnership has developed a benchmark tool for assessing and comparing the credibility of fishery and aquacul-ture certification. GSSI now has more than 90 partners from 21 countries across the entire produc-tion chain, including retailers and wholesalers that select their sources of supply in accordance with GSSI criteria.