Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries


The Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations, adopted this Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries on October 31, 1995. In order to ensure effective “conservation, management, and development of living aquatic resources”, the Code lays down ethical principles and international norms of conduct. It recognizes the “nutritional, economic, social, environmental, and cultural” relevance of fisheries, and takes into consideration the interests of different parties.

While the Code is voluntary, some of its aspects may be binding under obligatory instruments, such as the Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas, 1993.

The 49-page document contains 12 articles and two annexures. Article 1 outlines the nature and scope of the Code, Article 2 lays out its objectives, Article 3 states the Code’s relationship with other international instruments, Article 4 probes into implementation, monitoring, and updating, and Article 5 lays out the special requirements of developing countries. Article 6 demarcates the Code’s general principles, Articles 7-9 deal with management, operations and development of fisheries. Article 10 states norms for the integration of fisheries into plans for coastal area management. Article 11 and Article 12 engage with post-harvest practices, trade and research.

The following are excerpts from 8 of the 12 Articles, which give insight into the different aspects of the Code:

Article 1: The Code provides principles and standards applicable to the conservation, management and development of all fisheries. It also covers the capture, processing and trade of fish and fishery products, fishing operations, aquaculture, fisheries research and the integration of fisheries into coastal area management.

Article 2: Some of the objectives of the Code are to (f) promote the contribution of fisheries to food security and food quality, giving priority to the nutritional needs of local communities; (g) promote protection of living aquatic resources and their environments and coastal areas; (j) provide standards of conduct for all persons involved in the fisheries sector.

Article 4: All members and non-members of FAO, fishing entities and relevant sub-regional, regional and global organizations, whether governmental or non-governmental, and all persons concerned with the conservation, management and utilization of fisheries resources and trade in fish and fishery products should collaborate in the fulfillment and implementation of the objectives and principles contained in this Code. 

Article 6: States should prevent over fishing and excess fishing capacity and should implement management measures to ensure that fishing effort is commensurate with the productive capacity of the fishery resources and their sustainable utilization [...] States should consider aquaculture, including culture-based fisheries, as a means to promote diversification of income and diet. 

Article 7:  Measures should provide [that]…the interests of fishers, including those engaged in subsistence, small-scale and artisanal fisheries, are taken into account […] In order to ensure sustainable management of fisheries and to enable social and economic objectives to be achieved, sufficient knowledge of social, economic and institutional factors should be developed through data gathering, analysis and research. 

Article 8: States should ensure that only fishing operations allowed by them are conducted within waters under their jurisdiction and that these operations are carried out in a responsible manner. States should ensure that health and safety standards are adopted for everyone employed in fishing operations. States should enhance through education and training programmes the education and skills of fishers and, where appropriate, their professional qualifications. States should prohibit dynamiting, poisoning and other comparable destructive fishing practices.

Article 9: States should promote responsible aquaculture practices in support of rural communities, producer organizations and fish farmers. States should require that the disposal of wastes such as offal, sludge, dead or diseased fish, excess veterinary drugs and other hazardous chemical inputs does not constitute a hazard to human health and the environment. 

Article 10: States should ensure that an appropriate policy, legal and institutional framework is adopted to achieve the sustainable and integrated use of the resources, taking into account the fragility of coastal ecosystems and the finite nature of their natural resources and the needs of coastal communities. 

Focus by Naomi Fargose.


Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)


Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)


31 Oct, 1995