What is it about?

In this article, I explore how international law addresses artisanal small-scale fisheries, focusing on the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines), adopted in 2014 by members of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). I argue that, despite their non-binding nature, the SSF Guidelines have normative significance and legal force for three main reasons. First, due to the transparent multi-stakeholder process of developing and adopting the guidelines, which strengthened their legitimacy and acceptance. Second, for the normative content of the guidelines' provisions, which reinforce the existing obligations States committed to as parties to in human rights treaties. Third, for the law-making effects of the guidelines, which have influenced the development and adoption of policy and legal instruments at national, regional and international levels of governance.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

This research clarifies the normative significance and legal force in international law of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines). It promotes the continuous expansion of the global safety net which covers all international legal instruments relevant in supporting the recognition, protection and promotion of small-scale fishers and their communities.


I hope this article will be useful in clarifying the legal status of the SSF Guidelines in international law, and supporting the ongoing work of the international community in recognising, protecting and promoting the small-scale fisheries sector.

Julia Nakamura
University of Strathclyde

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Legal Reflections on the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines: Building a Global Safety Net for Small-Scale Fisheries, The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, February 2022, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/15718085-bja10081.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page