Promoting environmentally friendly and socially responsible fisheries and aquaculture

Project description

Title: Sector project ‘Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture’
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2020 to 2022



Fisheries and aquaculture provide a livelihood for 12 per cent of the world’s population, especially people in developing countries. Fish is an important source of micro-nutrients and provides one-fifth of the animal protein eaten by about 3.3 billion people. Since many fish stocks around the world have been fished to the limit of sustainability or beyond, promoting long-term responsible fisheries and aquaculture is essential from an environmental, scientific and social perspective. 

Sustainable fisheries management that also regulates and supports local small-scale fisheries is still in its infancy in many developing countries. Legal, institutional and technical frameworks need to be strengthened so that fishery activities can be effectively regulated and controlled. This applies to both high seas and inland fisheries. International cooperation must design fishery partnership agreements and subsidies such that they do not further aggravate the overfishing of the oceans. Instead, they are to contribute to the sensible long-term development of the sector in the partner countries. 

There is also a need for action in the introduction of social standards to certify environmentally and socially responsible fisheries and fish products. 

Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing food production branches in the world. In developing countries in particular, smallholder aquaculture is becoming increasingly important as a source of food and income. Guidelines on equitable access to natural resources and the sustainable use of these resources are required to promote smallholder aquaculture. Starting points include the transfer of knowledge and technology, certification and better integration of aquaculture into national economic and climate policies.


International fisheries policy creates incentives for the socially and environmentally acceptable use of fish. Small-scale fishers and fish farmers operate responsibly and contribute to food security, income generation and natural resource protection. 



The programme advises the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on the design of international fisheries policy and the promotion of environmentally friendly aquaculture. Innovative concepts and strategies are prepared for this purpose, and studies and lessons learned are analysed. The resulting knowledge management forms the basis for further policy and strategic advisory services. The approach is guided by the BMZ’s Ten-point Plan of Action for Marine Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries and the guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. 


The programme launched the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) with representatives of the science and research community, industry and civil society. An initiative with 89 partners from 21 countries, GSSI has developed a tool that can be used to evaluate and compare the credibility of fisheries and aquaculture quality seals. 

The Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) is a partnership of various stakeholders that aims to strengthen good governance in the fisheries sector. The programme supports FiTI in the establishment of an international secretariat and the development of new standards for more transparent and participatory fisheries management.

Furthermore, the programme is collaborating with bilateral projects of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and with development partnerships with the private sector (develoPPP). They have jointly elaborated and tested sustainability standards in aquaculture and fisheries. Positive examples include the organic shrimp standard of Naturland e.V. in Ecuador, Thailand and the Philippines; the organic pangasius standard of Naturland e.V. in Viet Nam; the GlobalGAP and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard for pangasius in Viet Nam; and the Naturland wild fish standard in Tanzania/Lake Victoria.

Last updated: February 2021