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Promoting Business and Human Rights in South Asia's Small-Scale Fisheries: Opportunities for Sub-Regional, Multi-Stakeholder Cooperation

Organized by: TROSA-Oxfam

TROSA-OXFAM-Sagar Seba.jpg
Image by lahiru iddamalgoda


There is growing recognition to operationalize human rights principles, including business-related human rights issues, in small-scale fisheries (SSFs). SSFs are key to the economic well-being and food security of millions. Of the 59.51 million engaged in SSFs globally, 14% are women and more than 80% are in Asia (FAO, 2021). Many of those engaged in fishing and fish farming across South Asia are small-scale, artisanal fishers and aquaculture workers and are often informal in nature. SSF workers’ human rights are often not duly recognized and protected in existing SSF governance mechanisms and investment decisions. SSFs are also at great risk of over-harvesting due to ever-increasing market demands and threatened due to climate change impacts such as natural hazards and environmental conditions like a warmer ocean. It is in this increasing context of vulnerability in the sub-region’ SSFs, that the business and human rights issues need to be discussed. As many of the SSF systems and value chains are transboundary and regional in nature, there is additional opportunity to address and promote more responsible business in SSFs through sub-regional and multi-stakeholder partnerships. The Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA) program has been working on inclusive small-scale fisheries in India and Bangladesh, particularly the hilsa fisheries in the Meghna and Brahmaputra transboundary river systems.


Session Description


This session will highlight business-related human rights issues in small-scale fisheries and identify ways more responsible and inclusive business practices could be promoted through multi-stakeholder partnerships at the local, national and regional levels. The session content will build on some of the field-level experience of Oxfam and partners engaged in the analysis and advocacy on inclusive fisheries in Bangladesh and India.  Insights from participatory processes like Hilsa Watch and Nodi Boithaks (River Meetings) will be shared. Local SSF communities from Bangladesh and India, including women members, will share their experience in this session.




Session Objectives


The key objectives of this session are to:

  • Share examples of ways business and human rights issues in SSFs could be better addressed through more inclusive and participatory governance initiatives.

  • Highlight some of the opportunities at the local, national and sub-regional levels to promote more inclusive business in SSFs; and

  • Contribute to the UNWG’s Roadmap for the next decade of business and human rights by highlighting the needs and opportunities for this in the sub-regions SSFs.


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