Report : Workshop

From Accra to Santa Clara

The recent Santa Clara workshop organized by ICSF sought to promote healthy fishing the artisanal way

The workshop on “The Imperative of Recognizing Artisanal Fishworkers’ Fishing Access Rights, organized by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) and Centro en Defensa de la Pesca Nacional (CeDePesca) during 1-4 March 2005, at Santa Clara del Mar, Argentina, represented the culmination of over seven years deliberations. The idea was first mooted in 1998, when the ICSF Animation Team met in Accra, Ghana and proposed that ICSF carry out a number of case studies in Latin America, Africa and Asia on the artisanal fishing zone.

One of ICSF’s first initiatives in Latin America was a workshop on electronic communication and the Internet (see SAMUDRA Report No 19, samudra/pdf/english/issue_19/art15. pdf), held in Lima, Peru, from 27 to 29 May 1997 at the Catholic University. The workshop was designed to promote the use of the Internet as a communication tool for fishworker organizations in Latin America. Without the Internet, organizing subsequent workshops including the Santa Clara workshop and continuing the discussions would have been impossible. The superb organization by ICSF’s local partner, CeDePesca, made the event one many of us will cherish for years to come.

In the run-up to the workshop, the concept of the artisanal zone changed from a static boundary at sea demarcating a line of no-entry for large-scale fishing activities to a complex set of dynamic relationships between the coastal zone and fishing communities, where access to sea and aquatic resources is as important as access to land and productive resources, and where zoning is but one example of a range of special management tools that need to be developed for artisanal fisheries.

The workshop sessions dealt with three main themes: management systems and access rights; artisanal fisheries and food security; and working conditions in the artisanal fisheries sector.

The workshop recognized the need for both co-management and integrated coastal zone management, which would allow fishworkers and other interest groups, notably coastal communities and indigenous people, to participate both in the decision-making processes that affect them and in the equitable allocation of resource access and user rights.

There is a close link between developing artisanal fisheries and achieving conservation and development objectives, as listed in various forums like the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the World Food Summit and the United Nations Millennium Declaration. This was very elegantly articulated at the workshop by the observation that “artisanal fishing literally means ‘healthy fishing’, from the Spanish arte for ‘fishing gear’ and sano for ‘healthy’. But there was also a note of caution that “although it may be recognized that discards are mainly produced by industrial-scale fisheries, particularly by trawling, it is worrying that they can also occur in some artisanal fisheries that use the same gear.

Earlier workshop

Santa Clara also saw echoes from ICSF’s earlier six-day workshop on “Gender and Coastal Fishing Communities in Latin America, held in June 2000 in the coastal fishing village of Prainha do Canto Verde, in the State of Ceara, Brazil (see SAMUDRA Report No 26 publication/samudra/pdf/english/issue_26/art04.pdf). One key observation from that workshop was that the “useful work and energy that women expend in fisheries remain invisible and undervalued.

From that perspective, the Santa Clara workshop may be criticized for having failed to include more women as participants, and for failing to highlight the important gender dimensions of access issues. This failure was highlighted by a group of women participants who made a declaration during the workshop, which has been acknowledged in the Workshop Statement, reproduced above.

One bone of contention at the workshop amongst the (male) participants was whether or not women’s role in artisanal fishing was “indispensable, “fundamental, “very important or just “important. Several participants argued that even without women in the fishery, artisanal fishing would continue. This contention directly contradicts the 1996 slogan of ICSF’s Women in Fisheries programme: “Without women in fisheries, there will be no fish in the sea.

Cosme Caracciolo, president of Confederación Nacional de Pescadores Artesanales de Chile (CONAPACH), summed up the views on working relations in Latin American artisanal fisheries thus: “We do not consider fishermen as crew members. We consider them as compañeros (working companions) or socios (associates), and, as such, they are entitled to a share of the catch. In Chile, fishing permits for fishermen are the same, whether he is a vessel owner or a compañero. The new fisheries law in Chile is trying to change this status, and this will undermine our working relations. The fishermen are now demanding national laws that respect the share system (and its local variations); greater recognition of the rights of fishworkers to social security benefits; training courses specially tailored to their needs; and improved occupational safety.


Provisional Workshop Statement

Sustainable Fisheries and Livelihoods in Latin America:

The Imperative of Recognizing the Resource Access Rights of Artisanal Fishermen,

Coastal Communities and Indigenous Peoples

Santa Clara, Argentina, 1-4 March 2005


More than 50 participants from 7 countries in the southern region of Latin America Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina along with delegates from the United Kingdom, India and Norway, met in Santa Clara, Argentina from 1-4 March 2005. Coming from artisanal fishworker organizations, indigenous people’s organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), research institutions and universities, our purpose was to discuss issues and consider measures to guarantee fishing access rights for artisanal fishworkers, coastal communities and indigenous people in the southern Latin American region.

The meeting was organized by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) and Centro en Defensa de la Pesca Nacional (CeDePesca), and was supported by the FAO FishCode Programme.

Over four intense days we shared a wealth of knowledge and experiences that highlight the dynamic nature and wide diversity that characterize artisanal fisheries in the southern Latin American region. Our understanding of how globalization processes in fisheries are impacting at the regional level was increased, and, amidst our considerable diversity, we found that we shared many common characteristics and concerns.

This statement describes our situation, highlights our concerns, and calls for both international and national actions to address common problems. Our shared vision for artisanal fisheries in the southern American region is set out in a separate Vision Statement.

We affirm the vital role that artisanal fishing plays in providing food and livelihoods in the southern Latin American region, where artisanal fishing is characteristically a small-scale, extensive activity, carried out directly by fishworkers using selective fishing gear. Providing the basis for both economic and social activities, artisanal fisheries also has important cultural dimensions. Artisanal fisheries attempts to provide benefits for both current and future generations, and its intrinsic characteristics make it the most effective way to exploit aquatic ecosystems on a sustainable basis.

We acknowledge the important roles played by both men and women in the harvesting, processing and trading of fish and fishery products, and in sustaining coastal communities and indigenous peoples whose livelihoods, quality of life and culture depend on aquatic ecosystems.

We are extremely concerned by the negative impacts of globalization and liberalization in the region. These are the cause of unregulated development and expansion of economic activities in the coastal areas, including intensive aquaculture, industrial development of fisheries and other sectors, and luxury tourism. The result is that coastal ecosystems are being degraded, aquatic resources depleted, with artisanal fishworkers, coastal communities and indigenous people being displaced from their homes and their livelihoods disrupted. Privatization of natural resources is leading to concentration of ownership, further enhancing these disturbing trends.

We consider it a matter of urgency to regulate these trends by:

° recognizing the priority access rights of artisanal fishworkers, coastal communities and indigenous people to coastal lands and near-shore coastal waters;

° establishing legal frameworks and institutional arrangements for applying an integrated approach to granting access and use rights in coastal ecosystems, in ways that optimize equity and sustainability;

° instituting systems of co-management for artisanal fisheries, with participatory and transparent mechanisms for decisionmaking, and with provisions for strengthening the capacity of organizations of artisanal fishworkers, coastal communities and indigenous people to participate fully in management decisions;

° establishing effective regulation for the use of potentially destructive fishing practices such as trawling, and halting the development and expansion of intensive and other unsustainable aquaculture activities;

° supporting coastal communities to develop community tourism, ecological agriculture and other activities that complement local economic development; and

° designing international and national fishery research programmes with the active participation of organizations of artisanal fishworkers, coastal communities and indigenous people in ways that incorporate their traditional knowledge, to meet their specific technical, economic and social requirements.

We affirm the need to guarantee food security and food sovereignty as basic rights for both food producers and the wider community in the southern Latin American region.

We recognize the importance of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in promoting sustainable fisheries and food security, and in addressing the specific needs of artisanal fisheries. We are committed to pressure our national governments to take the necessary measures to implement the Code and related international instruments for fisheries management.

We support the Ilo-Peru Declaration of the International Committee for the Defence of the Five-Mile Zone of 30 September 2004, and call for the establishment of an area in the coastal zones of Latin American countries, including both sea and land, for the exclusive use of artisanal fishworkers, coastal communities and indigenous people, where the dimensions, restrictions and regulations need to be defined in each country.

We are committed to supporting the calls of artisanal fishworker organizations, coastal communities and indigenous people to ban the use of potentially destructive fishing techniques like trawling in the zone reserved exclusively for artisanal fishing, while it needs to be decided on a country basis what fishing techniques should be banned.

We reject the use of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) as a management tool for artisanal fisheries, and express our concern that the use of ITQs can jeopardize the legitimate rights of artisanal fishworkers, coastal communities and indigenous people to secure and just fisheries-based livelihoods.

We deplore the practice of discarding associated with quota management systems, particularly ITQs, and condemn the use of destructive fishing techniques with intrinsically high discard rates, such as some forms of trawling.

We recognize the important role played by women in artisanal fisheries, where, in addition to undertaking household tasks and struggling with their children’s education, they work as fishers, shellfish and seaweed gatherers, traders, fish processors and factory workers. We are committed to work for the recognition of their resource access rights and to create spaces for women to participate in our organizations of artisanal fishworkers, coastal communities and indigenous peoples and to promote debate and understanding of gender issues in artisanal fisheries.

We support the Fortaleza Declaration of Red Manglar International of 4 September 2004, which calls for States to fulfill their obligations under the 1971 Ramsar Convention, particularly with regard to paragraph 15 of Resolution VII.21 on Intertidal Wetlands, signed in Costa Rica in 1999 at COPS 7, which “urges all Contracting Parties to suspend the promotion, creation of new facilities, and expansion of unsustainable aquaculture activities harmful to coastal wetlands until such time as assessments of the environmental and social impact of such activities, together with appropriate studies, identify measures aimed at establishing a sustainable system of aquaculture that is in harmony both with the environment and with local communities.

We note with concern that international demand for fishery products has encouraged the use of destructive practices such as trawling and intensive aquaculture. There is an urgent need for trade-specific measures to protect food security and the future of artisanal fishworkers, coastal communities and indigenous people worldwide. We recognize the need to work with consumer groups and civil society to generate demand for fishery products caught by selective and environmentally sound fishing practices.

We call upon States to recognize the rights of artisanal fishworkers, both as food producers and as workers, to benefit from labour laws that respect traditional systems of wage distribution based on catch shares; to just social security benefits that include provisions for death and injury, maternity, medical costs and retirement pension; and to training and education programmes in line with their needs.

We express our solidarity with the artisanal fishermen, coastal communities and indigenous people affected by the tsunami of 26 December 2004, which killed around 300,000 people and destroyed the livelihoods of millions of coastal dwellers. We support the Medan Declaration of 19 February 2005 on Rebuilding Peasants’ and Fisherfolk’s Livelihoods after the Earthquake and Tsunami Catastrophes, which promotes the rights of the affected communities to participate actively as the key actors in the planning and reconstruction processes, and for their organizations to play a key mobilizing and supporting role.

More information on the workshop is available at cedepesca/