Presenter: Brett Jenks, Chief Executive Officer, RARE
Host: ICCF Oceans Caucus Foundation (OCF)
Topic: IUU Fishing
About the Event:
Fishing is largely responsible for the wellbeing and economic generation of the global economy. Globally, 1 billion people rely on fish as a primary source of protein, and 150 million people in developing countries directly rely on fisheries to support their livelihoods. Our dependence on fisheries is being felt throughout the world as a result of dwindling fish stocks across the board. The crashing fish stocks have created a “take what you can get mentality” which fosters the exploitation of fish stocks in ecosystems around the world. In Loreto Bay, Mexico, Manuel Palacios, a fisherman, admitted “it didn’t matter if (fish) were small or young. We took everything in the seas without restriction. Illegal and unsustainable fishing was really shrinking catches.”
On a positive note, large commercial fisheries are beginning to improve their management of fish stocks thanks to the implementation and enforcement of regulations. However, small-scale fisheries are usually along coasts of developing countries that lack the economic resources necessary to create, implement, and enforce proper fisheries management. Coastal communities in developing countries rely on small fisheries as their main food and income source. Artisanal fisheries account for nearly half of the world’s global catch and employ 33 million of the world’s 36 million fishermen. The dependency on these small fisheries makes it all the more necessary for their proper management.
In order for fisheries management to be effective, proper enforcement and data records are essential. As fish stocks are decreasing, demand is increasing, which makes it profitable for fishermen to illegally catch and sell unreported catch. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing hinders conservation and management efforts towards rebuilding fish populations.
To shed light on potential solutions to the lack of regulations and enforcement in artisanal fisheries, the Oceans Caucus Foundation (OCF) teamed up with RARE to organize a lunch briefing discussing the problem of IUU fishing. Brett Jenks, Chief Executive Officer at RARE, presented RARE’s approach to solving declining fish stocks and IUU fishing in developing countries. RARE understands that many artisanal fishers and communities are not out to destroy their fish stocks but rather are unaware of their impact on, and the state of, their natural resources. Instead of imposing ideas and regulations on these localities needing guidance, RARE inspires change through Pride Campaigns that promote education and collaboration with locals so people and nature can thrive together. These campaigns utilize local people who are passionate and proud of their resources and educate them about the status and potential of their ecosystems. The educated local citizens then launch an educational campaign in their community that spreads awareness on this pressing conservation issue.
Mr. Jenks’ presentation focused on the coastal community of Loreto Bay in Mexico, which heavily depends on fisheries for livelihoods and food. Prior to the Pride Campaign, 16% of cooperatives were operating legally, 10 local fishers were participating in fisheries management, and the profit of a clam was only 1 peso. RARE teamed up with Perla Lozano Angulo, a member of CONANP (Mexico’s National Park Service), and her husband to launch a Pride Campaign in Loreto Bay to empower local fishers to reap the benefits of sustainable fishing and inspire their community to make conservation a way of life. By educating the local community, RARE and CONANP were able to change the “social norm” and instill pride in their local fisheries. Today, 80% of cooperatives operate legally, 375 fishers participate in fisheries management, and the average profit of a clam is 5-7 pesos through more efficient packaging and creative selling techniques.
Artisanal fisheries feed 500 million people and employ 90% of global fisherman. It is important to find a way to systematically build local capacity in developing countries to manage the near-shore fisheries that billions of people rely on.
For more information on IUU Fishing and what RARE is doing please visit:
RARE inspires change so people and nature thrive – a general article about RARE that describes their approach and impact
How to Catch Fish and Save Fisheries – A New York Times article by Brett and Carl Safina
Link to Briefing on ICCF Youtube channel