Meeting Held to Coincide with the International Day
for the Defense of the Mangrove Ecosystem
From July 23 to 26, 2022, the National Coordination for the Defense of the Mangrove Ecosystem (C-CONDEM) and Slow Food are organizing the 2nd Slow Fish Latin America and Greater Caribbean Meeting.
A total of around 50 delegates from C-CONDEM, the Union of Autonomous Workers of the Ecosystems of Coastal Marine Territories of Ecuador, the Latin American Alliance for Coastal Marine Territories against Climate Change and the Slow Fish network will meet in Muisne, in the Ecuadorean province of Esmeraldas, with the objective of reflecting on the regeneration of life in coastal marine territories. Many of the delegates will come from within Ecuador, but several will also travel from Colombia and Peru.
The meeting will explore topics ranging from taking a socio-ecological approach to the restoration of coastal marine ecosystems to the union demands of the peoples of the mangroves, seas and riverbanks, as well as the sustainability of small-scale fisheries as a source of food sovereignty for local communities.
Ana Isabel Márquez Pérez, a member of the Slow Fish Advisory Board, said: “This meeting revolves around the regeneration of life. It is true that each place has its particularities, but at the same time, all places respond to the same dynamics, which means that the problems are common to the different sea peoples. In a very important way, we will address issues related to the right to territory, the right to work and to food. All of these are key points to understand the problems and conflicts faced by people who depend on artisanal fishing.”
She continued: “Populations historically rooted in maritime contexts are increasingly displaced by business activities like ports, oil extraction, tourism and neoliberal marine conservation. We are facing new waves of privatization and monopolization linked to the neoliberal economic model. The right to work is a very important issue since in many Latin American countries there is no real recognition of the importance of artisan fishermen and shellfish collectors. There is an invisibility of the extent to which this activity generates employment and at the same time, there is a lack of knowledge about the labor rights of these populations, who very often live with very high levels of precariousness. The issue of food is closely linked. On the one hand, artisan fisherpeople and shellfish collectors are key actors for the food sovereignty of the different social groups that make up the coastal marine populations. But ignoring the value of artisanal fishing, violating the rights of these people and altering the ecosystems on which they depend creates an increasing threat to their food security and sovereignty. All of these are critical issues that require reflection and taking a position, not only from the affected populations, but also from other actors who are interested in these issues and who work in different fields that contribute to valuing, making visible and defending the importance of shellfish harvesting and artisanal fishing and the rights of the people who are engaged in these activities.”
Paula Barbeito, the coordinator of the Slow Fish campaign at the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, commented: “Slow Food believes that healthy ecosystems and healthy social fabrics are inseparable and that the ‘Blue Transformation’ our ocean economies need will happen when development strategies do not jeopardize the human rights of the communities that depend directly on ocean resources. To avoid this disaster, through the Slow Fish campaign Slow Food is encouraging the creation of collective action institutions. These are oriented towards the management and strengthening of a common resource and centered on local ecological knowledge, which becomes the axis of action of the relationship between the different parties involved. Both the coastal community and the state have a voice and a vote.” And, she added: “This Slow Fish event will be a crucial opportunity for the Latin American and Great Caribbean region to define the blue economy they want and their action plan for the next years.”
The meeting coincides with the International Day for the Defense of the Mangrove Ecosystem, July 26, and is also part of the Road to Terra Madre, a series of activities organized by the Slow Food network around the world to prepare for its international gathering in Turin, Italy, later this year. From September 22 to 26, the Slow Food network will be coming together to shape the future of food, agriculture and our planet in a spirit of regeneration.