World News


PHILIPPINES: Bays closed

In May 1989 the artisanal fishermen of Lamon Bay got their municipal government to close their bay to industrial fishing.

This bay, 40 kms long and 15 kms wide, harbours more than 5,000 coastal fishermen. Today, they point with pride to the results of the collective management of their resource: sizes have increased and the total catch is much larger.

This was not accomplished easily. All the trespassers and trespassers were systematically confronted by the fishermen with the support of the local police and saggundian bayans (neighborhood leaders). The transgressors were made to sign a document recognizing their offense and pay a fine stipulated by the Fishing Administrative Ordinance.

One other bay has been closed since that time, Polilio (Quezon), in December 1990. A third bay will also be closed under orders from the local Fishing Administrative Ordinance. On March 22nd, 1991, Batangas inaugurated its “ban with a good deal of fanfare. It proves that coastal fishermen are efficient and can control their fishery resources.

However, the law has still not been passed by the Philippine parliament. The fishermen hope that will not take too long.


The tortured fishermen of Anon in the upper Amazon basin

The lakes of the Amazon, as spawning grounds, are essential for guaranteeing the diversity and abundance of fish in that extensive region. The survival of the local human population depends on conserving those resources. Today, however, other men are waylaying the Amazon dwellers by devastating the lakes with fishing trawlers.

Some communities have organized themselves in order to monitor and control access to those biological sanctuaries. Tension has reached a critical point as a result of atrocities committed. Action against those atrocities is urgently needed, along with the solidarity of fisherman from Latin America and the world.

We would like to tell the story of the fishermen, who are also lepers, of Lake Puku in the Upper Amazon who denounced the depredatory at of the trawlers. Instead of punishing the aggressors, the leprous fishermen themselves were tortured, hung by their ankles and fists, only to be then beaten on their limbs already ulcerated by their disease.

These tortured fishermen need our support. We can help by writing to the fishermen of Puku, c/o Prelado Apostolico de Coazi, Municipio de Anori. Alto Amazons, Brazil.


Fisheries and aquacultural law

On 28 September 1991 the President of Chile signed the decree promulgating the new law governing fisheries and aquaculture. This law resulted from a discussion begun in 1988 of a proposal of General Pinochet’s Government, which was questioned by all the sectors connected with fishing. The democratically elected Government decided in 1990 to postpone the promulgation of the law approved by the junta in 1989 and open the discussion of a new draft law in the national parliament Fishermen and fishworker organizations were active participants in the discussions, seeking to defend their rights and acquiring new responsibilities for the management and protection of resources.

This is the first organic body created as the basis for legislating on all aspects of fishing: ways of access to resources; kinds of fishing and aquaculture; forms of control and closed seasons; fisheries councils on the national, area and regional level; participation of those active in fisheries in these councils; funds for investment, scientific research, etc.

The law’s fourth heading deals with artisanal fishing, reserving for it an area of five miles from the normal base lines, from the northern border to parallel 41, southern latitude around the islands in the ocean and all inland waters. Areas will be established for managing resources, to be selected by legally constituted organizations of fishermen. Individual quotas will also be established for the extraction of benthic resources and will be given to duly registered artisanal fishermen, especially in the case of fully exploited fishing grounds.

Fishermen will have to register on a regional basis, according to their proven domicile. Only at certain times will they be allowed to move to contiguous or neighbouring regions, if they frequently fish there. Only exceptionally, in the case of highly migratory species, will artisanal fishermen be allowed to extend their operations to more than one region. Vessels for artisanal fishing cannot be longer than 18 metres nor have a gross registry of more than 50 metric tons.

The law creates a development fund for artisanal fishing, in order to promote the development of infrastructure, training and technical assistance for fishermen and their organizations, replenish hydrobiological resources, market seafood and administer production centres. Three representatives of artisanal fishermen will participate in the administration of the fund.

Finally, the law recovers national control over resources, by determining that only Chileans or permanent residents can be fishermen. Organizations will have an active role to play in the regions, since they will have to name their representatives, apply management norms, and be capable of formulating and administering projects that should be financed by the Fisheries Development Fund.

The place where the Earth ends

The basic daily living components of the Escuela de Lenga on the shores of the South Pacific on the Chilean coast, are comprised by games, songs, animation of objects and dramatizations, being the classroom and the beach the most familiar background, and the objects of daily use, the ball and the world map.

Because everyday things are so obvious to our eyes, we end up by not perceiving them, so their significance is often disregarded; this is the case of the ocean and the litter, elements of the daily landscape of the children of Caleta Lenga.

In order to create a space in the surroundings, and leave our imagination to fly free, we used a blue cloth to dramatize the different moments in the story we wanted to tell. Blue is the ocean and blue is the sky covering it cloak.

In an attempt to unify all these elements within a structure of audio-visual images, in keeping with a model of popular culture and always through improvization and intelligent use of the forms the Comedy of Art, we tried to cell a simple story instilling in the children of the Escuela de Lenga awareness of their part in the responsibility of environmental care and the concrete menace to ocean resources and also to all inhabitants of this Planet, of the pollution of sea and ocean water as explained by professionals Ernesto Malbran Rodrigo Malbran, and Ellie Nixon, authors of the guideline and responsible for this ecological Project in defence of the marine environment, carried out in June, July, and August 1990. It was sponsored by the International Research Centre for Development of Canada and the Department of Ocean Sciences of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile headquartered in the city of Talcahuano. “We are considering the possibility of extending this Project to schools in other craft fishing communities. This example can be imitated in other countries. The ICSF can establish the necessary liaison among authors and collaborate to enhance and diffuse their works.


United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development

The United Nations has convened a second international conference on problems of the environment and development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 1992. The first such conference took place in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972, and led to a series of important agreements for the protection of the environment and actions against sources of pollution and the degradation of our planet

The next conference is planned as a summit meeting about the earth. Countries, international agencies and civil organizations have been invited to participate in the preparation of this event. Protection for the oceans will be a key issue, and it is expected that measures will be adopted and recommendations made for the extensive care of this area of the planet and its resources.

The International Collective in Support of Fish-workers has been accredited by the preparatory commission of the conference and is petitioning all the fishworker organizations of the world and their associate members to send in their recommendations in order to prepare a working document on the basic rights of fishworkers, especially the right live in a clean environment, to survive as workers on the seas, to participate in decisionmaking and to actively integrate women into production representation activities.

The recommendations deal with the following points:

_ It is indispensable that countries integrate at artisanal and inshore fisheries into the development and management of coastal zones, creating and stimulating the representation of fishermen and fishing communities in planning and administrative agencies.

_ Countries should support traditional coastal fishing communities and women’s and indigenous groups in exercising their rights and responsibilities, equitably allocating fishing resources manner in relation to industrial and sport fishing (especially granting an exclusive zone for artisanal fishing and aquaculture), creating systems to protect the labour and social rights of fishworkers.

_ Coastal States should develop technologies for artisanal fishing that would respect the environment and the self-sustained replacement of marine re- sources, prohibiting those technologies that are harmful in this regard. They should also create training services in coordination with relevant credit and rural development programmes.

_ States should develop systems to recover, record and apply traditional knowledge about fishing resources and ways of managing them, and move to prudently modernize that knowledge.

_ The International Collective in Support of Fish-workers is preparing a special document to present to the United Nations conference. Its contents will be taken from proposals made in congresses, seminars and meetings of national fishworker organizations and their support agencies. Suggestions can be sent to ICSF headquarters in Brussels or to SAMUDRA’s offices.


The law of the sea and the protection of marine resources

The International Collective in Support of Fish-workers (ICSF) organized a working session in Paris, France on 13 February 1991 to study the scope and defects of the law of the sea and its impact on the protection of marine resources. The Foundation for Human Progress warmly welcomed the delegates to its headquarters in Rue Saint Sabin. Participants included delegates from French fishworker organizations; university researchers from France, Canada and Belgium; representatives of non-governmental organizations and members of the International Collective. The initiative was proposed by Nalini Nayak and Tom Kocherry of India during a visit to France in July 1990.

_ Fishermen expressed regret that the sea is used as a dumping ground. An example of this is the irresponsible act of polluting the seabed by launching deadly barrels of toxic and radioactive wastes into the ocean, as is done in the English Channel. Breton fishermen denounce the lack of reaction on the part of legislators. They look the other way and fail to enact severe prohibitions of such actions. They are content with drawing up “black, gray or white lists of dangerous products, allowing the sea to continue to be treated as a dumping ground. We should demand that the precautionary principle be recognized, especially in the more dangerous areas where storms can produce harmful spills. Strict controls must be established, certifying the containerized cargo of each ship that passes through those areas.

_ Dumping at sea is forbidden by the London Dumping Convention, with a restrictive clause that makes an exception for the “case of bad weather, which could be taken advantage of to save costly investments. The Convention does not mention the impact of war and other military actions. The Persian Gulf War shows the terrible consequences of war for the ocean, atmosphere and marine resources.

_ The session insisted on the need to protect wetlands from disappearing, due to the destructive effects of human action. Special mention was made of tropical mangrove swamps and temperate estuaries that serve as refuges for migratory birds. The main dangers affecting them come from industrial and urban pollution, as well as pesticides used in agriculture.

_ Some coastal communities defend the marine environment by establishing norms or having recourse to courts of law in order to pun polluters. Such was the case in the port city Chanaral, in the north of Chile, where the Supreme Court ordered the National Copper Company (CODELCO) to repair the damage caused by the wastes it discharged into the bay. Another case took place in the Dominican Republic, where a judge ordered oil companies to pay for the damage and repair of a mangrove swamp.

_ The seas regulate many of the earth’s different equilibiria. They are the common heritage of mankind; we need them our survival and that future generations. Given this fact, Cassiope Beaud of France’s Vezealy group raised the question of why we should protect this common heritage. He recalled that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is still not ratified by some countries. Public opinion and governments must be mobilized to ratify this agreement so that this universal heritage can be rigorously protected.

_ Finally, special attention was called to the problem of the right of access to the resource. Different forms of access and property exist, in accord with local customs or traditions, regional agreements, quotas per boat or country. Unresolved conflicts exist between industrial and artisanal fleets, and between national and foreign fleets. A distinction has to be made between economic zones (which include all resources) and fishing areas (involving only fishery resources). It is important to recover traditional practices and project them into new formulations of the right of access to the resource, thereby respecting artisanal fishermen and their communities.

Blue Europe in european fishing and in north-south relations

Delegates of fishworker organizations from France, Holland, Spain and Portugal, together with delegates from Namibia, Chile and Senegal, spent two days discussing the impact of structural changes in European fishing on artisanal coastal fishing and on North-South relations.

They first looked at the impact of Blue Europe on small artisanal fishermen in Europe, especially in France, Portugal and Spain. These artisanal fishermen comprise a large part of the fleets of the European Economic Community, but they have organizations. For that very reason, they are not well known to the European bureaucracy in Brussels. ECC investments go to outfit fleets for deep-water fishing. In Portugal, the question is whether or not coastal fishermen will wind up as crew members for the deep-water fleets. Real investments are needed for the coastal sector, not only subsidies. There are 84,000 boats of less than 150 kw in Europe, comprising 80% of the total European fleet.

They then took a close look at the impact of fishery policies in Spain and Namibia. Spain sent oversized fleets to fish the Namibian coast. But Namibia caused unemployment among Galician fishermen by recovering its rights over its exclusive economic zone. Paul Godison of Namibia expressed the challenges at stake in negotiating agreements with the EEC, especially how to deal with the needs and problems of Europe’s artisanal fishermen and those of the Namibian people at the same time.

It was recommended that organizations for European coastal fishworkers be promoted, benefiting from similar experiences in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The impetus should come from those fishworkers themselves. The dynamism of women in fishing communities should also be taken advantage of in searching for new forms of struggle and organization. Women provided the impetus in Brittany, France, Holland and Spain, setting up groups to make their message known and carry out social action. North-South relations can also take on a human dimension if grassroots groups of fishworkers set up normal channels for communication and discussion of their problems.

The meeting was organized by Rene Pierre Chever, of the fishing committee of Guilvinec in Brittany, and by James Smith, of the CCFD, with the participation of delegates from the ICSF and the hospitality of the Foundation for Human Progress.

The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers

The ICSF Animation Team held its annual meeting in the northern part of the island of Luzon in the Philippines during the second week of January 1991. It was agreed to designate Sebastian Mathew (India) as the new executive secretary, headquartered in Madras, India. Sebastian Mathew is a member of ICSF and carried out his activities together with John Kurien in the Centre for Development Studies, in Trivandrum, Kerala (India). The new coordinator of the Animation Team is Hector-Luis Morales (Chile). The meeting enjoyed the friendly collaboration and warm welcome of the Asian Social Institute, of Manila.


Latin-American artisanal fishermen in action

CEDIPAC and the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers organized a seminar in Vina del Mar in September 1990. Thirty representatives of Latin American countries attended, especially the leaders of The Federation of Fishing Cooperatives of Ecuador (FENACOPEC); the National Movement of Fishermen of Brazil (MONAPE); fishing cooperatives of Aserradoes, Nicaragua; cooperatives of Tabasco, Mexico; the National Federation of Uruguayan Fishermen and the National Federation of Uruguayan Cooperatives; fishing cooperatives of Oruro, Bolivia, and the National Association of Fishermen of Colom bia (ANPAC). Aliou Sail of Senegal and Francisco Gutierrez of Colombia were also present, representing the International Collective. Hector Luis Morales, Carlos Toro, Ernesto Malbran, Nadia Fontecilla and Claudio Bluck represented CEDIPAC during the course. The leaders of CONAPACH participated actively by giving classes on how work is organized and carried out in Chile. Maria Angela Barbieri and Eleuterio Yanez, professors from the Catholic University in Valparaiso, also collaborated, along with Professors Alberto Arrizaga, Luz Cereceda and Guillermo Wormald of the Catholic University of Chile.

This course was followed by an international seminar on movements of artisanal fishermen in Latin America, with the collaboration of the School of Marine Science of the Catholic University in Valparaiso. Cases were presented during the seminar, such as that of algae gatherers in Chile, by Adriana Gallegos; fishing in Colombia, by Carlo Tassara; the Committee for the Development of Peoples, of Rome, Italy; fishing in Brazil, by Eduardo Schiavone, of the University of Sao Paulo; fishing in Mexico, by Miguel Chavez, of the University of Tabasco; fishermen’s movements in Canada, by Zoel Breau, of the Union of Maritime Fishermen; fishing in Senegal, by Aliou Sall, as well as other contributions from the fishermen themselves.

This course has made an impact on the activities of the organizations of different countries, for example, in Ecuador, where FENACOPEC organized a seminar for leaders of cooperatives, inviting Carlos Toro of CEDIPAC as professor, and held at a time when the movement was being restructured. In Brazil, MONAPE is organizing its national congress for October 1991 in the city of Recife, which will consolidate an important stage in the growth process of a new organization of Brazilian fishermen. In Tabasco, Mexico, river fishermen are making progress in consolidating a regional federation, which will serve as a basis for seeking solutions to problems of marketing and resource management. Peru’s artisanal fishermen have expressed the degree of misery and underdevelopment in which coastal communities live, and the urgent need to create a more solid and efficient organization. Finally, the leaders of Chile’s fishermen received high marks for their willingness to assist their Latin American brothers, as in the case of CONAPACH of Chile working together with MONAPE of Brazil to prepare the congress for Brazil’s fishermen.