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Home > Newsletters Nyéléni in English > Newsletter no 47 - Small-scale fishers : Struggles and mobilisations > Voices from the field

Newsletter no 47 - Small-scale fishers : Struggles and mobilisations

Voices from the field

Monday 14 March 2022, by Manu

Voice from the field 1 - Reflection from a young fisher

Tylon Joseph, Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO), Grenada.
I am a young fisherman and fisherfolk leader from the community of Gouyave, the fishing capital of a Caribbean Island called Grenada. I have been fishing ever since I was a child, casting lines from the shore and our local jetty: catching Scad (or as we locally call it jacks), other Carangidae species and small finfish in general. My father is a fisherman by profession. I learnt a lot of what I know about fishing from him and being in that environment. I have truly learnt to appreciate my innate understanding of the marine environment, which stemmed from being a fisherman while pursuing a marine and wildlife conversation biology degree at St George’s University. Being a fisherman is what primarily pays for my tuition to attend school. Initially, I never thought about going to university; after I spent around 5 years fishing for a living, I realized that my country started to regress rapidly despite industry development. There is little to no government systems and staff in place to help the industry move forward nor are fishers involved in the big policy decisions and the local exporters who I sell to started taking more and more advantage of our fishers. I then decided that if I want to build a home and to be able to provide for my future family, then I had to branch out into another field and I choose one close to fish and fishing.

Voice from the field 2 - Struggles of Small-Scale Fishers. A perspective from a Brazilian small-scale fisherwoman

Josana Pinto da Costa, Movimento de Pescadores e Pescadoras Artesanais do Brasil (MPP), WFFP
I am a fisherwoman and I live in the Amador community in the municipality of Óbidos in the state of Pará. I speak from the perspective of a small-scale fisherwoman. I have witnessed losses in our territories and the main threats are the expansion of agribusiness, hydro-business, and mining, as well as the privatization of our waters. As a way to solve this type of problem, we small-scale fisher people have organised collectively as Movimento de Pescadores e Pescadoras Artesanais do Brasil (MPP). We have also joined the World Forum of Fishers Peoples (WFFP) and I currently serve on its coordinating committee. In both MPP and WFFP, we have embraced the challenge to launch the ocean grabbing peoples’ tribunal [1] in 2021. We recognize it as one of the main tools of information and education in the struggle against capitalism in our waters. The relevance of the tribunal must be recognized by all, galvanizing our social struggles and the preservation of the environment. Our aim is to always have free lands and wholesome food.

Voice from the field 3 - A view from a non-fisher on small-scale fishers

Ravindu Gunaratne, Sri Lanka
I live in a village where most of my neighbours and friends make a living from fishing, but I am not involved in fishing. I come from a middle-class family and go to university. As I see it, small-scale fisheries are diverse, dynamic, and attached to the livelihoods and culture of the local communities. I’m an advocate for small-scale fisheries and support fishers for their betterment. The fishing industry contributes to less than 2% of the country’s gross domestic product, but small-scale fishing is of great importance for providing food on the table, and also for social functions such as providing work in rural areas. The majority of small-scale fisheries in Sri Lanka are traditional fisheries. I am a person who associates with small-scale fishers and understands the sector as I live in a fishing village. When it comes to the youth, I see how they struggle with both poverty and unawareness. Small scale fishing is eco-friendly, but there is a huge threat with garbage and plastic wastes near the shore. I’m working with the youth to promote environmental well-being and to make others understand that small-scale fishers do less harm to the sea and the environment because of their use of more nature-friendly fishing practices. When it comes to the challenges faced by the fishing community, I think of resource depletion, poor economic performance, food and nutritional insecurity and social and cultural stress among defenceless people. Small-scale fishing is a sustainable oriented livelihood occupation. I have noticed while working with SSF community that small scale fisheries have received relatively little attention or support from our government. It is contended that both the assessment and management of small scale fisheries increased effort in understanding and developing processes, mechanisms and methods that are more attuned to the issues faced by small scale fisheries. Promotion of the small-scale fishery is very important based on the principles of social, climate and economic justice, which empowers our fishing villages. All of these justices are part of food sovereignty. I stand for food sovereignty!