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, http://www.icsf.net/jsp/publication/ 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.
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 http://www.icsf.net/jsp/ 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.