Creating Sustainable Livelihoods for Marine Communities

Like their developing country counterparts in agriculture, many fishing communities struggle to sustain and improve their livelihoods while responsibly managing their resources. There are 120 million people working in primary & secondary fish livelihoods. 90% of this labor force is based in the global south and small-scale fishing boats catch over half of global fish supply. This represents a $70B global business of over 100M metric tons of fish traded per year.

If you are currently working with, or know of, a fishery where the fishermen, community, and local resources could benefit from Fair Trade, please fill out our questionnaire.

Fair Trade USA seeks to address these challenges by adapting its certification process used around the world for fisheries. Incentivizing fishing communities to improve conservation practices can be challenging, however the Fair Trade model provides a unique and tested solution. This program will focus on baseline social and environmental criteria with benchmarks for moving towards better stewardship practices, improved business capacity, community development programs and market access, benefitting both ecosystems and people.

The aim of the Fair Trade standard for capture fisheries is to work with fishers to:

  • Improve working and living conditions in fishing communities
  • Generate a transparent stream of funding that provides incentives to activate environmental stewardship
  • Improve market access and visibility for global south fisheries via a well-known consumer-facing label that meets industry demand for responsible fish supply. 

The standard will use a stepwise fisheries improvement approach requiring that certified Fair Trade Fisheries will improve social, economic and environmental conditions over time. They will be audited annually to ensure progress.

Learn more here

A Collaborative Approach To Fair Trade Fisheries

Fair Trade USA’s exploration of fisheries began in 2012. Since that time, we have been in exploratory conversations with fishing communities, marine conservation specialists, marine certification experts, and market partners throughout the supply chain. Each of these allies are helping inform our perspective on the value Fair Trade USA can add to the certification of global fisheries, and will play key roles in our standards development, refinement, and implementation.

In May 2013, The Fair Trade Fisheries Advisory Council (FAC) was elected to consult on conservation, economic, and applied aspects of Fair Trade Fisheries program.

Members include:



Amanda Lejbowicz

COBI (Mexico)

Dra. Andrea Sáenz-Arroyo

COBI (Mexico)

Blane Olson

Anova Seafood

Brad Spear

Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

Dick Jones

Resiliensea Group

Duncan Leadbitter

Marine Change

Dr. Eny A Buchary

Stockholm Resilience Center

Fabian Mollet

Blue You Consulting

Dr. Jorge Jimenez

MarViva (Costa Rica)

Meghan Jeans

New England Aquarium

Miguel Jorge

50 in 10

René Benguerel

Blue You Consulting

Sian Morgan

SCS Global Services

Tim Fitzgerald

Environmental Defense Fund

Tobias Aguirre


We Want Your Feedback!

Fair Trade USA welcomes the input, participation and support of a variety of stakeholders in the marine sector. We are actively engaging fishing communities and their processing/export partners, NGO’s and experts working in the global marine sector, and funders that want to support innovative solutions for developing world fisheries. For more information on how you can get involved, please contact

From Coffee and Tea to Fish in the Sea: A New Frontier of Fair Trade

By Maya Spaull