October 12, 1995
FISH HARVESTERS CONDEMN EXPORT OF FISHERIES CRISIS
International Committee Formed to Oppose World-Wide Depletion of Fish Stocks
Representatives of fish harvesters organizations from four continents have come together during the past two days to find ways to stop the destruction of the planet’s fisheries resources. The representatives are here to attend the International Symposium of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
In a statement issued today, the representatives declared that:
“We, the representatives of small-scale fish harvesters from North America, South America, Africa, and Asia, express deep concern over the reckless plunder of the seas by the large industrialized fleets of the world, leading to a substantial depletion of fish stocks and endangering the food security for millions of people.”
“We strongly condemn efforts by various national governments in attempting short-term solutions to their national problems by exporting these vessels to other countries under the guise of various arrangements such as joint ventures, charters, leases, licenses, or bilateral agreements. Equally culpable are the governments which allow the relocation of these vessels in their countries, ignoring the interests of their own fishermen and the safety of their fish stocks. This “exportation of the crisis” is unethical and leads to further destruction of fish stocks and the replacement of small-scale fish harvesters.”
Documents published by the FAO confirm that 70% of the world’s marine fish stocks are at the limits of exploitation or depleted and that such a situation poses serious nutritional problems for millions of people. The FAO also notes that small-scale fish harvesters still account for 50% of the world’s fish production.
The international meeting emphasized that the small-scale harvesters who had a long-term social, cultural, and economic dependence on fish resources are being squeezed out of existence by the operations of huge, industrial vessels that plunder their traditional fishing grounds. Consisting of 25,000 vessels world-wide, this industrial fleet from such countries as South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Russia, the USA, and the European Community, has targeting the developing countries for resource extinction.
As pointed out by Thomas Kocherry, Chairperson of India’s National Fishworkers’ Forum, the Indian Ocean is the last area in the world where fish stocks have not been overexploited. His organization has mobilized 8 million fisher people to oppose the imminent destruction of their fisheries from the industrial trawlers that have already arried on their coasts and the many others that are soon to be on their way. This destruction takes place with the blessing of the national government that has agreed to joint ventures with companies of the nations of origin of the industrial fleet.
In Senegal, the major coastal demersal stocks fished by artisanal fishermen are threatened by overexploitation and even extinction. The major cause is the arrival of foreign vessels, primarily from the European Community. For this reason, the National Collective of Artisanal Fishermen (CNPS) with a membership of 8,500 has been mobilizing fish harvesters for the past five years to fish against the fishing agreements.
The representatives of Canadian fish harvester organizations understand well the situation of their counterparts in the developing world. Not only have they seen their fish stocks wiped out by the same kind of industrialized fleets, both foreign and domestic, but also have experience with joint ventures, authorized y the Canadian government with foreign fleets, that have significantly impacted mackerel, capelin, turbot, and other species important to Canadian fishermen.
The international representatives emphasized that fisheries development can not be measured solely by the level of production but that fishing practices must be sustainable and ultimately oriented toward protecting the livelihood of coastal fishing communities. They have agreed to form and ad-hoc committee that will serve as a means of communication among the organizations and as a watch-dog to mobilize international opposition to the destruction of their livelihoods.
The international meeting was organized by the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters and consisted of the following representatives:
Aliou Sall, CREDETIP, Senegal
Gastien Godin, Association des pêcheurs professionnels Acadiens, Canada
José Valenzuela, Conapach, Chile
Thomas Kocherry, National Fishworkers’ Forum, India
Chantal Abord-Hugon, Atlantic Women’s Fishnet, Canada
V. Vivekanandan, South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies, India
Bill Broderick, Newfoundland Fish, Food and Allied Workers, Canada
John Sutcliffe, United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union, B.C., Canada
John Kearney, Fundy North Fishermen’s Association, Canada
Michael Belliveau, Maritime Fishermen’s Union, Canada
François Poulin, Alliance des pêcheurs professionnels du Québec, Canada
Daniel Bernier, Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters,
Virgilio Crisstobal, Asian Social Institute, Philippines
You can see the media release in its original format here.