Resist Corporate Capture of Fisheries, Build Sustainable Fisheries for the People
21 September 2012
We, representatives of 32 organizations of traditional small-scale fishermen and fisherwomen from marine and inland fisheries and their advocates, from 15 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America met from 19 – 21 September 2012 in Iloilo, Philippines to discuss the destructive impacts of globalization and to bring back traditional knowledge systems and practices for sustainable fisheries that uphold the rights and welfare of small-scale fisherfolk and all other oppressed and marginalized sectors of society, and strengthen international solidarity.
Small-scale fisherfolk feed the world. We are the backbone of the fisheries sector. We contribute to local and national food security using traditional fishing practices that take into account the sustainability of the environment for the present and future generations. Half of us are women who take on the burden of raising our families and providing food on the table.
But the globalization of the fisheries sector has further marginalized small-scale fisherfolk, pushing us into deeper levels of poverty and sub-human conditions. Our communities suffer from the onslaught of neoliberal interests seeking to maximize economic returns through profit and export and import oriented production.
Large-scale industrialized fishing fleets with their high technology to catch and process vast quantities of fish for profits have polluted and destroyed our seas and ecosystems. We suffer from poor working and safety conditions – on fishing vessels, in aquaculture farms and fish processing factories. We struggle to fight for our rights as we are displaced from our fishing grounds and our land in the name of the environment and development. These problems are compounded by the effects of climate change as mitigation and adaptation policies fail to take on ecosystem-based fisheries that principally support small-scale fisherfolk.
International institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), along with governments and multilateral institutions have promoted the corporatization and privatization of fisheries and community resources. The World Bank-led Global Partnership for Oceans, by proposing measures such as rights-based fisheries that includes individual transferable quotas (ITQs) and similar systems, is another mechanism for more systematic and intensified wholesale plunder of our inland, freshwater sources and seas and resources in the name of blue and green economy and sustainable development. The globalization of fisheries sector has led to the disregard of our inalienable rights to life, land, seas and other resources.
We stand for our inalienable human rights and community rights to access fisheries resources, manage our own resources through our traditional wisdom and to benefit from our resources.
1. We urge our national governments to strive towards achieving national food sovereignty by abandoning profit and export and import oriented laws and policies. We also call on our governments to put a halt on destructive development projects and to protect the interests of the poor and vulnerable people.
2. We strongly reject structures of globalization, including the World Bank and its Global Partnership for Oceans, and the World Trade Organization (WTO), which have facilitated intensified plunder of our seas in the last decades. We want fisheries out of WTO which has promoted the privatization of our common resources through onerous trade agreements and policies. We oppose the extension of market-based mechanisms to climate change discussions and we push the international community to protect the fisherfolks
3. International institutions must be stopped from developing programmes and policies that undermine small-scale fisherfolks. They must recognize the important contribution of small-scale fisherfolk to food security and more importantly food sovereignty and poverty alleviation. While we recognize that the draft International Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries is a step in the right direction, we maintain that the guidelines will not be sufficient to promote the interests of small-scale fisherfolk unless they address the structural challenges posed by neoliberalism and large-scale fisheries.
4. We call on our fellow small-scale fishermen and fisherwomen, fishworkers and vendors to organize ourselves as we collectively struggle for our inalienable rights and promotion of a genuinely sustainable, people-centred development framework at the community, national and international levels. We act in solidarity with indigenous peoples, artisans, peasants and unorganized workers to advance our advocacies for food sovereignty.
1. National and local governments should adopt a people-centred approach to fisheries management which recognizes and protects the rights of local communities to control natural resources and determine their own environmentally and ecologically sustainable fisheries harvesting and farming systems. The processes must be transparent and participative to ensure the representation of the people.
2. Frameworks to achieve sustainable fisheries must be in place which includes the promotion of traditional and indigenous fishing practices and management of resources, the dismantling of commercial fishing fleets and an overhaul of the unfair current systems of fisheries production and trade that favour profits over people.
3. National governments must take steps to fulfil their obligations in international instruments to recognize, protect and uphold our human rights, including our social, economic and cultural rights as well as our native customary rights. There must be mechanisms in place to ensure governments are held accountable.
4. Strategies for adaptation and mitigation for man-made and natural disasters contributing to climate change must be hinged on the promotion and protection of small-scale fisherfolk, and based on their proposals. These strategies should also protect and safeguard our ecological systems. National governments must ensure the safety and protection of Small-scale fisherfolk from the man-made and natural disasters from climate change. Our national governments must also support small-scale fisherfolk in the event of the disasters.
5. Small-scale sustainable aquaculture of local and indigenous species must be promoted and large-scale unsustainable, industrial aquaculture rejected. There must be improved regulation and support for aquaculture farms to reduce their environmental impacts and reorient aquaculture from export and import based policies to local market needs. National governments must take adequate actions to provide financial support for small-scale fisherfolk and promote small-scale fisherfolk organizations’ through which they can maintain they livelihoods.
6. Society and national governments in particular should recognize, protect and realize women’s rights in the fisheries sector. Women should receive equal wages and have equal rights to land and resources. They must have greater participation and representation in various levels of decision-making processes and their representative fisherfolk organizations should be supported in their advocacies.
7. Social movements, civil society and networks among fisherfolk and their advocates must be strengthened at the community, national and international levels. Effective strategies for communication to strengthen our collective advocacies for fisherfolk communities must be developed. And there must be support to build the capacity of social movements to operate freely and autonomously in a democratic system.
8. Local techniques and research which build the people’s capacity and improve their participation and ownership in fisheries must be promoted.
We reaffirm our commitment to protect and defend the rights to life and livelihood of fishing communities, promote sustainable and indigenous fishing practices and strengthen fisherfolk organizations and networks at various levels as we reject structures that trample on our inalienable rights.
Resist corporatization of fisheries!
Uphold fisherfolk’s rights!