Credit: John Rae
Cast your mind forward – 10, 15, 50 years. What do you see? The world around us is changing: resource needs are transforming alongside a booming global population. Technology is evolving exponentially, informing how we respond to daily life. Our planet’s climate and the delicate balance of our oceans are under threat.
With over 3 billion people in this changing world relying on oceans for sustenance, where do fish, and fishing, fit into this future?
The world’s oceans have never been higher up the political agenda. Three major international events on ocean governance took place in the last month: the second UN Preparatory Committee on a legally binding instrument for the high seas; the IUCN global congress; and the star-spangled Our Ocean Conference, addressed by President Obama, COP21 President Ségolène Royal, and Leonardo DiCaprio (to name a few). Meanwhile, in London, HRH The Prince of Wales recently convened a meeting – through his International Sustainability Unit (ISU) – to ‘take stock’ of the global transition to sustainable fisheries, and scan the horizon for emerging challenges and opportunities. (Read the full meeting report here).
Fisheries and the future
A keynote speaker at the ISU event projected a global population of 18 billion, and a human life expectancy of 300 years (just around the corner – think your grandchildren, or their children). Another speaker forecast a 60 million ton shortage in seafood products in comparison to demand, within a generation. In a world where billions (often in the most food-insecure nations) rely on protein from fish and other seafood, this vastly increased pressure on resources paints a bleak picture for global fisheries and food security. But we see a brighter future where we can rebuild global fisheries for more fish, more food and more prosperous fishing communities. Read More
Photo: Alexis Rife
Cozumel, Mexico might be better known for its diving and tourism, but it’s also home to some of the most successful fishing cooperatives and TURFs in the world. In a recent trip with our partners Rare and the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UCSB, we met with fishing cooperatives from Mexico to learn from these fishers and communities about successful TURF-Reserve models and conditions that have contributed to their success. It was an amazing opportunity to share learnings and experiences cross-country (and truly, around the globe).
First, some background on cooperatives. A cooperative is a group of fishers who communicate about and coordinate their fishing activity to meet their goals. Cooperatives can perform a range of activities, from coordinating fishing activities to participating in co-management, and even marketing their products. Successful cooperatives also sustainably manage their fishery so that the species are healthy and simultaneously provide for sustainable livelihoods for fishers.
Fishing cooperatives can be especially critical to sustainable fisheries management, especially in areas where governance is weak. Many cooperatives also invest a portion of their profits in community projects, which increases awareness of the importance of fishing resources as an important source of income and prosperity for the community as a whole. Read More
By: Emilie Litsinger & Lito Mancao (Director, Technical Operations, Rare Philippines)
Photo: Rare Philippines
The communities of Tinambac and Cantilan recently approved the first ever TURF+Reserve designs in the Philippines. This accomplishment follows months of hard work by the Fish Forever team and our talented on-site coordinators, and collaboration with the local government units, village leaders, key agencies, and, most importantly fishers, and community members.
This effort is part of the Fish Forever (FF) program: a collaboration of EDF, Rare, and the Sustainable Fisheries Group at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) that empowers fishing communities in the developing tropics to manage their near-shore fisheries with a proven, sustainable management approach called TURF+Reserves. In the Philippines, the goal of FF is to create a network of TURF+Reserves both within municipal waters (0-15km) and between adjoining municipalities.
These are historic milestones for the communities of Tinambac and Cantilan for many reasons. Engaged communities and fishers laid the groundwork for sustainable fisheries management by working through and discussing their options to land on a design that works for them and meets their needs. Read More
Photo: Kaia Joye Moyer
By: Kaia Joye Moyer, Masters Student at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management
It is 5am. The sun is just rising, but Hermes Arandas, a fisher from Totolan, Dauis, Bohol in the Philippines, is anything but just waking up. Today he and six fellow fishers are pulling their banca, a long slender outrigger canoe into the boat landing area. The men left the harbor at 4 pm the previous day and have been out fishing all night. Hermes tells me that he remembers fishing with his father. Back then, the fish were not far from shore, but today they can’t be found there. In order to continue to support his family, Hermes must fish farther and longer because catch is decreasing and fish are getting smaller.
Unfortunately Hermes is not alone in his story. More than 90% of the fishermen around the world are small-scale fishers like Hermes, mostly living in developing nations. And while these fishers provide half of the global fish catch, they are also particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they rely on fish for both their livelihood and food source
It is stories like Hermes’ that brought us to the Philippines.
Photo credit: Jason Houston
Small-scale fisheries provide a host of social and economic benefits to local communities. They contribute about half of the global catch; supplying food for local, national and global markets. They are responsible for about ninety percent of fishing employment. They provide income, contribute to food security and nutrition, alleviate poverty, and often support a way of life strongly anchored in local culture and community.
But small-scale and artisanal fisheries face many challenges today including depleted fish stocks; pollution; encroachment from development; climate change, and sea level rise. Many small-scale fishing communities are marginalized, with low levels of access to political power, education and other resources.
To combat these challenges, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) collaborated with governments, Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders to develop a set of ‘Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication’ (SSF). Today at the biennial meeting of the FAO’s Committee on Fisheries in Rome, delegates adopted the SSF Guidelines by consensus. Read More