The United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development ended with declarations and agreements which did not meet the expectations generated during the preparatory process. Political compromise was the mechanism most often used by participant diplomats, while the proposals put forward by academic centres and social movements were, for the most part, postponed for a more propitious occasion- That occasion will surely be found in those areas of struggle where action is still necessary, given that the poor continue to become ever poorer, oceans continue to be contaminated, gasses saturate the atmosphere, and species are led to extinction, while the future of humanity on this planet-ship Earth is uncertain.

The fishworkers of the world have, however, gained a degree of recognition in Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 and the door is open for the struggle of their organizations in each country to achieve the application of the agreements signed in the 1992 Rio Conference. Those accords require that fish workers be respected in terms of their own cultures, that there be exclusive fishing zones, special credit mechanisms and technology transfer, representation in decision-making organisms, respect for and participation of women in fishing activities and fishworker organizations.

ICSF continues its struggle for those rights in diverse areas of the world, specially in meetings of fishing crews in Latin America, in Task Force activities in defense of Philippine Distant Water Vessel crews in the Taiwanese fleets, in the search for the causes of the diseases which attack the fresh water fish cultivated in Asia, and in the creation of communication networks among French, Irish and British fish workers. The European Economic Community continues to open new fishing zones through so-called “second generation treaties, notably that established with Argentina in 1992, which will have significant impact both in Europe and the countries of the South, specially in Latin America and Africa.

Both Peruvian and Mexican artisan fishworkers have made progress toward new forms of organization and are seeking ways to become truly independent in their decisions. A new artisan fish worker union has been formed in Madagascar, while their fellows in Senegal have made progress along similar lines.

Renee Conan, European Parliamentary Representative and Green militant, a friend of ours, has left us after a sudden illness and we will miss her clear and inspirational voice to guide the social fishworker movements. May she rest in peace and inspire us to transcend our own human shortcomings.

Hector Luis Morales