Small-scale Fishers: A Threatened Species
11 Apr 2011
Slow Fish is celebrating the people of the sea this year; the faces of the fishing communities that are key to regaining sustainable fishing equilibrium yet have a future as uncertain as the many fish species on blacklists today. Held every two years, this international Slow Food event dedicated to the world of fish and marine ecosystems will take place for the fifth time in the Italian port city of Genoa, May 27-30, bringing together small-scale fishers from around the world for the four-day program.
According to recent estimates, small-scale fisheries account for more than half of the world’s marine and inland fish catch. However, in comparison to the industrial fishing fleets now recklessly emptying the seas, they often abide by specific seasons to catch particular species, using selective techniques with low environmental impact. They safeguard a deep and irreplaceable wisdom about fish stocks, serve as custodians of the sea and carry with them an invaluable legacy of memory and traditional knowledge. Since the advent of industrial fishing, small-scale fishers around the world face a struggle to maintain their ways of life, unable to compete against large fleets that use advanced fishing technology and are often the recipients of government subsidies and favorable legislation.
Slow Fish will celebrate and draw awareness to artisanal fishing in many ways and investigate the difficult balance between safeguarding the income of fishers and protecting the marine resources on which their livelihood depends. This begins with welcoming fishers from across the world, like Frank Fleming, the Irish fisherman who, while battling to compete with the huge quantities of industrially caught fish on the market, set up a certification system for responsibly caught fish; or 16 year old Georgios from Greece, a third generation member of a family of fishers who use small boats and traditional fishing methods; or the Oosterchelde Lobster Presidia fishermen from the Netherlands whose careful techniques ensure the survival of the species for future generations.
During the four days in Genoa, displays will take visitors on a journey from the opportunities, hardships and skills of small-scale fishing in the past to what it has become today with modernization and the impacts of globalization. There will be various opportunities to meet the fishermen and women themselves: through informal conversations in the Fish Tales activity, where they will share their fascinating stories in an intimate atmosphere; in the Slow Food Education space where, as the best people to explain the marine ecosystem and its delicate balances, they will help participants discover how their own choices can influence the marine world; and in the Market area, where they will offer their products and act as concrete examples of sustainable fishing communities. Fishers will also be able to tap into the vast Slow Food network, connection and exchanging ideas with other fishers, experts, chefs and consumers through workshops, debates and informal meetings.
The event will also include an array of other activities focused on sustainable fishing and responsible seafood consumption: guided tastings at the Taste Workshops, demonstrations by renowned chefs at the Theater of Taste, opportunities for reflection and debate with leading experts at the Water Workshops, and the Market exhibition area displaying a rich variety of fresh and preserved fish, oils, spices, salt, seaweed and other related products.
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