8 June 2022. On the occasion of the World Oceans Day, several small-scale fishers organisations from Africa (CAOPA, CANCO, FPAOI), the Pacific (LMMA), South (CONAPACH) and Central America (RAMPR), and Europe (LIFE, Aktea) call on governments and their partners to build resilient small-scale fishing communities by developing national strategic plans to implement the following actions by 2030.
According to their Call to Action, “small-scale fishers (SSF) are the most numerous ocean users, and their major contributions to livelihoods, employment, food security and revenue, stand in contrast to their marginalisation in decision-making. To ensure healthy and resilient fishing communities, SSF require secure and preferential access to healthy oceans and ecosystems to effectively play their key roles as guardians of the ocean and contributors to food security and nutrition. SSF demand that governments address the lack of science based, transparent, participative fisheries management and threats posed by pollution, competition for space and resources by other blue economy industries, and to invest in long-term resource management, ecosystems restoration and innovations introduced by women and men from fishing communities.”
The call to action calls on governments to act urgently on five pressing themes, including ‘Be transparent and accountable in fisheries management’ and in order to do so ‘publish, to the minimum standards of the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI), all relevant information, including legislation, fishing authorisations, data on performance and the rationale for management regulations.’
The importance of government transparency for small-scale fisheries is regularly emphasised by the FiTI, including in tBrief #6 (Invisible, Undervalued and Underappreciated? Transparency for small-scale fisheries). Yet, research on small-scale fisheries, as well as on recreational fishing, has consistently found that official data tends to underestimate their scale and importance. This not only concerns catches but also their economic and social contributions. In many places fisheries have an important but underappreciated role in poverty alleviation and food security. In particular, women’s role in fisheries is too often ‘hidden’. Such underestimations create a myriad of problems, including marginalisation of small-scale fisheries in policy-making processes as well as inequitable flows of government support.