Lidér Gòngora Farìas, Coordinator of the National Environmental Assembly of Ecuador, will be participating in Slow Fish 2013 to discuss the drastic consequences of the deforestation of mangroves in his country. A fair dedicated to the world of fish and marine ecosystems, Slow Fish will consist of an open-air market, Taste Workshops and events and meetings with fishers, chefs and experts in the Historical Port of Genoa from May 9 to 12.
At the event, Farìas will present the project, “The National Coordination for the Defense of Mangroves,” launched to promote the reconstruction of mangroves in Ecuador. He will speak at the Water Workshop, “Towards Collective Management of Common Resources” on Saturday May 11 at 12 pm, where he will shed light on the unsustainable management of coastal ecosystems in Ecuador which continues to have drastic consequences for communities and wildlife in the region. The Water Workshops are free and will address a wide range of issues concerning fisheries and fish consumption.
Throughout the event, cases from Ecuador will provide an example of how ecosystems can be poorly managed when the “tragedy of the commons” means that resources are exploited by individual parties. Since the 1980s, the development of a large number of shrimp farms has destabilized the ecosystems along the coasts of Ecuador. The coastline was once covered with 360,000 hectares of mangroves, and today this has declined to 108,000 hectares: a loss of 70%. The mangroves have always been essential for a healthy coastal ecosystem, where they provide organic detritus and function as habitat for the fauna of the ecosystem, such as for bird populations that typically migrate south from North America.
The impact of the destruction of these mangroves on the local population and local fishing industry is also grave. Communities have traditionally depended on the healthy ecosystem, living off gathering clams and mussels from the entire estuary. Shrimp farm expansion has contributed to a decline in all local fisheries, since so many marine species depend on mangroves for at least part of their development, offering the smaller fish and crabs shelter from predators and a protected environment to lay eggs. Deforestation caused a further threat for the local population: the missing trees drastically increase the danger of storms and hurricanes capable of destroying entire villages, which forced many people to relocate.
Lidér Gòngora Farìas is passionately involved in the project and is enthusiastic about his visit to Slow Fish, which will give him the chance to draw international attention to the problem. “It is nice to come to Slow Fish and talk about these problems. I hope that through this opportunity people will understand the damage that we are doing. We must at least stop this destruction a little bit. The industries don’t take care of anything; they continually cut away hectares of forest. We ask the politicians to leave us our territory because our history and culture are there. The people, both in Ecuador and throughout the world, must know this”.