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