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A learning framework for young people and local educators to explore, imagine, and mobilize the FAO's Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security & Poverty Eradication in their beautiful, complex, and changing fishing villages as common worlds and aquatic social-ecological systems.
A project for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations by Beyond the Surface International (BTSI) from Coast 2 Coast (C2C) with generous support from the Lighthouse Foundation.


On behalf of the SSF Guidelines Curriculum development team from Coast 2 Coast, we sincerely thank the Fisheries and Aquaculture Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Equitable Livelihoods Team for believing in our small nonprofit to co-develop a curriculum with teachers and students from fishing villages around the world that leverages the SSF Guidelines as a learning framework by which young learners and local educators in and near SSF communities can explore shaping positive changes for sustainable fisheries and optimistic futures. We are incredibly grateful for support from the Lighthouse Foundation that propelled the curriculum's co-creation process through our realization and facilitation of educator and learner focus groups to co-design lesson plans and enrichment activities that enable exploration of the SSF Guidelines as reflected in local realities. Thank you to Dr. John Kurien. The SSF Guidelines Curriculum is a tangile continuation of Dr. Kurien's collective participatory research and resulting publication, Involving the People - Democratizing the implementation and monitoring of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication. 

We are emmensely proud of everyone involved in the co-production of this learning framework that honors the SSF Guidelines by placing it in the hands a fishing village's most inquisitive and imaginative community members. Local youth, supported by their teachers, nonprofit program facilitators, and other community-based educators, can explore the unique policy instrument's main themes - from tenure to gender - in their daily lives from a space of creativity and curiosity. Gathering data on the themes embedded within the SSF Guideline's policy recommendations through project-based learning out and about in their SSF community, learners and educators play active roles in raising awareness and democratizing the implementation and monitoring of the SSF Guidelines while having fun and making new friends. After all, should we not strive for the process of shaping change to be just as enjoyable as delighting in the end result?  


This interactive publication shares a summary of the SSF Guidelines Curriculum's co-development process, activities, outputs, and outcomes with the proposed next steps for feedback consultations, thoughtful dissemination, further piloting, participatory research, and the development of the curriculum's 2nd edition. 

To download the curriculum, please sign up here


From November 2021 to January 2023, throughout the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022), Beyond the Surface International's participatory audiovisual and community-based movement, Coast 2 Coast (C2C), collaborated with rural educators and young learners from public schools, nonprofits, and social welfare centers located in inland and coastal small-scale fishing (SSF) villages in Peru, Nigeria, Madagascar, and India to co-create the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines Curriculum. The curriculum uses the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, or the SSF Guidelines, as a framework for local educators and young learners to explore, envision, and encourage sustainable small-scale fisheries at the local level through an emergent strategy. 

Abot the Curriculm Process
The curriculum is an inspired outcome of the 2022 publication by Dr. John Kurien, "Involving the People - Democratizing the implementation and monitoring of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication." The report highlights the need for democratizing the implementation and monitoring of the SSF Guidelines at the community level through contextualized participatory assessment tools and mechanisms. The curriculum serves as a medium for raising awareness about the SSF Guidelines through young people's exploration of its themes as reflected in their daily lives growing up in fish-dependent villages. The learning framework contains dynamic youth action and community-based participatory approaches that enable educators to guide their students and learners in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the SSF Guidelines in their communities, sharing their results as part of Too Big To Ignore's "20 Questions about Small-Scale Fisheries," inviting educators to create profiles of the SSF communities upon the curriculum's completion.  

Applying the essential findings and processes described in the Involving the People report, the SSF Guidelines Curriculum transdisciplinary development team reviewed each paragraph of the guidelines' 13 chapters, highlighting the key takeaways and uncovering the overarching "story" each guideline tells about small-scale fisheries. In parallel, C2C met remotely with educators working in diverse small-scale fishing villages and initiated the co-design process through in-depth interviews. Educators generously offered their time and participation, sharing the specific challenges facing their SSF and the opportunities they foresaw. C2C inquired about the teaching and learning methods educators thought worked best for their local context and any innovative or alternative teaching methods they would be interested in developing new skills, for example, using audiovisual tools in teaching and learning processes. Educators discussed their personal goals as community members and professional goals as teachers, facilitators, and social workers. In addition, C2C learned about the local fishing practices, cultural values, and traditional knowledge that would inform the curriculum's design. 

Together, C2C and educators co-designed a lively collection of lesson plans and enrichment activities that sought to meet the needs of SSF educators and make learning meaningful and relevant for participants through their own investigations and imaginations. C2C and educators employed different pedagogies, learning processes, and strategies within the curriculum's design. These include expeditionary learning, an educational approach that emphasizes hands-on, experiential learning through the use of real-world projects and fieldwork, as well as social-emotional learning (SEL) to help students develop the ability to manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals, show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. As SSF are integrated social-ecological systems, C2C also integrated offerings from common world pedagogies, emphasizing the interconnectedness of humans and the natural world. In this approach, education is seen as a way to promote ecological awareness and social responsibility towards non-human beings and the environment.

During IYAFA 2022, Emi Koch, the SSF Guidelines Curriculum Project Director, was awarded a Dalai Lama Fellowship, where she connected with a cohort of fellows with "compassion-in-actions" projects during monthly calls as well as mentors in education and mindfulness practices who offered guidance on the curriculum's process of co-creation. 

From June through December 2022, Coast 2 Coast piloted curriculum dynamics in five SSF communities' public schools along Peru's northern coast, with two indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon and one inland fishing villages in the Andes, engaging over 850 young learners, more than 70 adults learners, and more than 65 teachers. C2C facilitate over 30 new dynamics involving youth action research and participatory audiovisuals and creative mediums such as murals, stop-motion animations, photography, map-making, cyanography, and more for learners to mobilize their knowledge gathered. C2C also facilitate workshops for teachers to share about the curriculum and integrate their insights into the drafted lesson plans and enrichment activities. The in-person pilots resulted in the audiovisual co-creation of two stop-motion animations, seven photography classes, three murals, and two thaumatropes (an optical illusion based on combining two images with movement) workshops. 

Simultaneously, 12 educators from focus groups piloted select activities from each chapter of the SSF Guidelines with their own groups of young learners in Peru, Nigeria, India, and Madagascar, engaging over 60 young learners testing 10 lesson plans.    

C2C also launched a region-wide photography contest calling on students and teachers across Piura to capture what Part 2 of the SSF Guidelines - Responsible Fisheries and Sustainable Development looked like in their built and natural community, capturing images from the local fishing pier, the marketplace, and local kitchens. Through social media, radio interviews, and pitching the contest in local schools, C2C reached almost 20,000 people across the state, raising awareness about IYAFA 2022 and the SSF Guidelines as the structure for the photography contest's call for submissions. While fewer students and teachers submitted their work than C2C had aimed to engage, the participants who did submit their photos and the select few who won first, second, and third place prizes based on their audiovisual pieces reported having a thought-provoking and enriching experience seeing their ordinary SSF communities as extraordinary for their contributions to food security and local livelihoods.  

From mid-December 2022 through February 2023, C2C spent time with focus group educators integrating feedback into the lesson plans and enrichment activities, producing supplementary handouts, gathering resources, and illustrating materials. During this stage, C2C presented the SSF Guidelines Curriculum Project at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego to marine scientists, fisheries researchers, and students, appealing to academics to partner with local nonprofits and educators to get dirt on their white papers, mobilizing knowledge with those who need to apply it the most for their social-ecological well-being. C2C also presented the project at the 4th World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress (4WSFC) for Latin America & Caribbean in Merida, Mexico. With Too Big to Ignore's support, C2C could bring one of the local educators from the focus group in Peru to share their experience and connect with others. C2C gained invaluable feedback from both outreach experiences, connecting with researchers whose work lesson plans simplify for learners to engage with in their local SSF contexts. 

The result is the inaugural SSF Guidelines Curriculum as a learning framework that engages young people (of all ages) to explore, imagine, and mobilize the FAO SSF Guidelines in their dynamic fishing villages as aquatic social-ecological systems and common worlds with non-human beings and elements. By using these guidelines as a framework for the curriculum, local educators can support local youth in thinking critically about their sustainable futures in the context of their own aquatic social-ecological systems. 

After a yearlong co-development process, the SSF Guidelines Curriculum's 1st edition is ready for publication. The SSF Guidelines Curriculum development team is excited to share the participatory project with stakeholders across the FAO's network for feedback and with educators in SSF communities for further piloting and uptake. With a minimum viable product (MVP) to disseminate, C2C would like to work closely with international donors and community-based partners working for sustainable fisheries and quality rural education to envision the project's following stages and next steps. C2C anticipates a "Call for Submissions" from FAO volunteer multistakeholder consultants for feedback on the curriculum 1st edition, the opportunity to approach both Ministries of Education and National Fisheries Departments for input and to discuss how the curriculum supports improved policy coherence and possible interests or strategies for curriculum dissemination in national schools, the co-development of an onboarding experience for educators interested in facilitating the curriculum in their local SSF context, and work between focus groups to produce the 2nd Edition of the SSF Guidelines Curriculum with a set of new lesson plans and enrichment activities attuned to the needs of small island developing states and SSF in contexts of limited opportunities civic engagement. 


Beyond the Surface InternationaL (BTSI) is a community-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working together with small-scale fishing villages to support social-ecological wellbeing, nurture resilience-thinking, and promote natural-cultural heritage through surfing, storytelling, and mindfulness workshops that engage youth and their communities for healthy seas and societies. We leverage surfing as a powerful relationship-building tool with ourselves, our peers, and our surroundings. Surfing cultivates both inner and outer strength and engages local youth from small-scale fishing villages to cultivate caring relationships with their aquatic and built environments. Through Coast 2 Coast Movement, BTSI's Peruvian nonprofit, we facilitate participatory audiovisual workshops for youth to use their voices to celebrate their community’s strengths, identify changes, daylight struggles, and co-create potential solutions. We also facilitate mindfulness practices as the ground level of emergent strategy for young learners to shape change in their daily lives. Through partnerships, we seek implement solutions for healthy, happy coastal communities and small-scale fisheries.

Mission: To provide innovative positive youth development tools, trainings, and safe-spaces for children from small-scale fishing villages to cultivate attuned, caring relationships with themselves, society and their aquatic environment, celebrating strengths and addressing challenges impacting their social-ecological wellbeing and sustainable futures.


Objective: To support rural youth from isolated fishing villages to realize and reach their potential while raising awareness on the importance of small-scale fishing villages in the context of food security, livelihoods, natural-cultural heritage and climate resilience through the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradications by the FAO. 

Vision: A healthy planet with happy coastal communities situated along a thriving ocean. We aspire for a global society that considers access to a healthy environment as a basic human right. We imagine a world that values nonviolent communication as a tool to resolve conflicts and reveres humanity and nature's intrinsic interconnectedness for our collective social-ecological resilience. 

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Coast 2 Coast is Beyond the Surface International's Peruvian nonprofit that combines investigation with imagination using participatory storytelling tools and research approaches to engage young learners in SSF villages in gaining and contributing to a kaleidoscopic understanding of their aquatic social-ecological systems and shaping positive changes in their lives for bright, sustainable futures.

Through a positive youth development approach and emergent strategies, we champion learners and educators as change-shapers. We partner with public schools, social projects, environmental nonprofits, and community-run organizations to facilitate photography, photojournalism, comic, stop-motion animation, street art, murals, filmmaking, map-making, and other “edutainment” workshops, combined 6-month programs and touring audiovisual festivals that explore our relationships with and within our built-natural surroundings.


Guided by the SSF Guidelines, young learners explore their local waters and fishing community as resilient researchers and skilled communicators, identifying their villages’ strengths, investigating changes, daylighting challenges, and brainstorming potential solutions for optimistic futures. Participants mobilize their knowledge by co-creating their own stories rooted in traditional knowledge, fortified by science and expressed through learners’ imaginations that highlight their aquatic ecosystems and built environments as common worlds shared with non-human beings and dynamic elements with agency and rights.


We seek collaborations with regional and global partners to implement these youth-driven, community-based solutions for healthy aquatic ecosystems and SSF communities through valued partnerships. Coast 2 Coast is rooted in Lobitos, a small-scale fishing village in Northern Peru, and facilitates in-person and virtual workshops, programs, and festivals with SSF communities from coast to coast.


The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication - known as the SSF Guidelines for short - represent a global consensus on principles and guidance for holistic governance and social development concerning artisanal fisheries, recommending policies, strategies, and actions that protect small-scale fisheries (SSF) people's human rights across the sector and along the value chain. The guidelines aim to promote the social, economic, and environmental well-being of small-scale fishing communities while also ensuring the long-term sustainability of fish stocks and aquatic ecosystems. The policy tool addresses the "State" as national governments and local municipalities, fishing community members, civil society, enterprises, and other stakeholders, detailing what each can do to support the lives and livelihoods of SSF people. Upheld by a human rights approach, the SSF Guidelines focus on promoting SSF people's participation in decision-making processes, Blue Justice, and strengthening their capacities for responsible use of fishery resources.

Between 2011 and 2013, the FAO led a participatory process involving over 4,000 representatives from governments, fisheries associations, research institutions, and other stakeholder groups across 120 countries to co-create the SSF Guidelines as the first policy instrument recognizing SSF for their enormous contributions to society, including economic stability and sustainable growth, food and household nutrition security, and buffering against extreme poverty and vulnerability. The SSF Guidelines recognize small-scale fisheries as a key component for healthy communities and consider sustainable fisheries within a human rights-based framework, emphasizing equality and nondiscrimination, participation and inclusion of actors in SSF´s diverse and dynamic subsector. Rather than addressing symptoms of poverty that can drive unsustainable fishing practices, the SSF Guidelines unearth the root causes, including discrimination, marginalization, exploitation, and abuse, by focusing on systems level social-ecological changes in policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks.

See an example activity from the curriculum's Introductory Lesson Plan: What are the SSF Guidelines?