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Natural Resource Governance around the World

Challenges facing Artisan Fishery in the 21st Century

Proposals Papers for the XXIst Century. Charles Leopold Mayer Editions

Written by: Juliette Decoster, Pedro Avendaño

Writing date: February 2007

Organizations: Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le Progrès de l’Homme (FPH)

Type of document: Paper / Document for wide distribution

Since several years, due to the gradual depletion of fish stocks and environmental deterioration, the fishing sector is facing the most serious crisis it has ever known. Commercial productivity of oceans has reached its lowest level and 75% of the world’s most important fishing areas are overexploited. In all parts of the world, ocean ecosystems and coastal populations suffer the consequences of unsustainable fishing.

Depletion of fishing resources may increase due to private appropriation of maritime territories, encouraged by interests of industrial fisheries. Transferable Individual Quotas and Individual Quotas per boat are measures which follow the general trend towards the privatization of the living. Those who control the fishing capital actually become the owners of oceans’ fishing resources which used to be common pool resources.

On the contrary, traditional and small-scale fisheries still highly contribute to food security and to the social and economical life of regions where they are practiced. 50% of the fish for human consumption comes from traditional and small-scale fishing. This type of fishing represents a responsible and sustainable management model of coastal areas, rivers, oceans and fishing resources, and implies other forms of ressource protection and recognition of fishermen rights.

Consumers’ demand is ever-growing and it is to fear that fishing products are more and more redirected to the North, at the expense of poor populations of the South.

Conscious of these stakes, traditional fishing communities, fishermen organizations and workers decided several years ago to gather within local or regional networks and mobilize their strength:

  • to formulate alternatives concerning fishing and management of fishing ressources.

  • to require that fishermen be involved in decisional processes, at different scales of governance.

The issues related to the management of fishing resources and aquaculture are very similar to those of land management and agriculture. In both cases, there are strong contrasts between industrial structures and family structures. Management of coastal territories on one hand and distribution of the access to fishing resources on the other, raise the same stakes and issues that do management of rural areas and access to land. As a consequence, the parallel analysis of these stakes can be quite relevant. Some interesting parternships have already been created between small farmers and traditional fishermen.

Pedro Avendaño, manager of the World Fisher Forum, (an association created in October 2000 in Loctudy (Brittany, France) which gathers national fishermen organizations from Latin America, North America, Africa, Asia and Europe) and Juliette Decoster, working at the Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation, coordinated the preparation of the Proposal Paper on the management of fishing resources. This work benefited from contributions of the international association of support to the traditional fish harvesters and fishworkers.

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