Fisheries: a new vision and hope for Spain and Europe

Six fishermen “cofradias” (guilds) in Galicia, Spain, are proposing to work together with regional and national governments, in managing fishing resources, by petitioning for the creation of a fisheries interest marine reserve.

The regional government in Galicia and the central government in Madrid are currently analyzing the ambitious proposal, presented by six Galician fishermen guilds (cofradías), to expand the marine reserve “Os Miñarzos” to 100,000 hectares. The proposal involves 726 ships and 1700 fishermen in a marine territory that includes offshore (state) and interior (regional) waters.

Slow Food fully supports the visionary project of “Os Miñarzos-Fin da Terra” fisheries reserve project, which, through a highly innovative and democratic vision, achieves all the stated objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy reform, as well as the international voluntary guidelines adopted by COFI, FAO’s Committee on Fisheries.

The approval of this project would be a strong signal of the government’s commitment to seeking progressive alternatives, based on democratic and open processes, in a sector that is often characterized by lack of transparency and great bureaucracy, the main impediments to successful long-term measures that prioritize the conservation of natural resources as well as a fair redistribution of wealth for this common resource. This initiative would not only allow to anchor jobs in coastal communities, but would also impact the broader issues of food sovereignty and local culture.

The project, a result of more than six years of hard work between fishermen and administrative bodies, scientific communities, environmental NGO’s and civil society, has helped generate strong systems of collaboration and co-responsibility at various levels: in creating and designing the marine reserve project, the fishermen associations have established permanent working commissions to analyze the situation of each local fishery (fishing zones, annual fishing cycles, fisheries management, etc.), proposing measures that are generally more restrictive than those outlined by current legislation and those previously discussed and agreed upon by the fishing and scientific specialists appointed by public administration. In the long term, the active participation of fishermen in the design and implementation of management plans will also reduce public spending.

Expanding the reserve would continue to further the positive results that have been achieved in the less than five years since the reserve, in its current dimensions, was created. Benefits include better control of poaching, more regulation compliance, improved productivity of fisheries (the barnacle fishery is one example) as well as increased resilience of fishing activities in local ports, in a general context of degrowth in Galicia. Additionally, there is a greater social recognition of the fisherman, a decrease of social conflicts, an improved environmental awareness, and a greater fostering of shared responsibility and information transparency.

The project already has the support of a multitude of local, national and international organizations, including NGOs such as the Spanish commission of IUCN, Oceana, WWF España, Ecologistas en Acción, SEO/BirdLife, the International Collective Support to Fishworkers (ICSF/IUCN), MEDPAN, and the two world fishing forums, World Forum Harvesters & Fish Workers (WFF) and World Forum Of Fisher People (WFFP).

 

Click here to read the letter of support signed by Carlo Petrini (in spanish).

 

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