Denis Bailly during his opening remarksDesde el principio, el taller sobre pesquerías a pequeña escala organizado por Ocean University Initiative, IRD y otros del 25 al 26 de junio en el Campus de Technopolis en Plouzané fue muy interesante. Su objetivo era permitir el intercambio intensivo entre investigadores, gerentes, representantes de agencias de financiación, consultores y otros. La agenda completa está aquí. Tras una bienvenida de Anne Lebourges-Dhaussy del IRD, Denis Bailly, coordinador de la Ocean University Initiative en Francia, recordó el enfoque de múltiples perspectivas promulgado hace casi 30 años en Montpellier

que estableció la pesca artesanal como un campo de investigación válido para una amplia gama de disciplinas. El desarrollo de capacidades y las nuevas colaboraciones deben estar todavía entre las palabras de observación.

Today the link between different fields of research needs strengthening and the connections to policy and development practice is still weak and in need of improvement. He also suggested to develop some key statements and insights for sharing at the forthcoming Third World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress (3WSFC) that will be convened in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from 22 to 26 October 2018.

Nicole Franz of FAONicole Franz of FAO, one of the facilitators of the long drawn-out bottom-up process of developing the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) that were adopted at the FAO's Committee of Fisheries in 2014, gave an update of implementation efforts.

She called for increasing work in this direction to have convincing results to show in 2022, the just declared International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The following session saw Ratana Chuenpagdee give an overview of the global project she leads "Too Big To Ignore" (TBTI). It started in 2012 with funding from the Canadian government with the aim to addressing the imbalance in most governments' policies in favour of industrial fisheries.

It was also to address the gaping holes in researching the social dimensions of fisheries and providing selective inputs for supporting corrective policy and action.

More than 400 researchers participated in this world-wide network.

Ratana Chuengpagdee, Director of the global project on SSF - Too Big To IgnoreThe initial five focus areas were: strengthening the base of understanding SSF, broadening the scope of research and practice, enhancing stewardship, defending the beach (mechanisms to secure livelihoods through a rights-based approach to working and living space), governing governance.

They were meanwhile complemented by additional lines of research on fish as food, gender, indigenous fisheries, markets and responses to global change.

The project headquarter is at the Memorial University  of Newfoundland, Canada, but project activities take place world-wide. The forthcoming Third World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress (3WSFC) in Chaing Mai, Thailand, will be a major opportunity to take stock.

Katia Frangoudes of Université de Bretagne Occidentale (UBO), France, gave an update on gender studies and why they were still much needed. She is the lead of the gender research cluster in the TBTI network. 

Patrice Brehmer, coordinator of two large research collaborations in West Africa with partners from France and Germany opened the presentations of research results in the afternoon. These projects, AWA and PREFACE, could be seen as task forces to establish a basis for an observatory for regular regional monitoring and research.

The projects had also engaged in higher education and training, among others by supporting new master courses at the Gaston Berger University in St. Louis, Senegal, and in Cape Verde.

Eliman Abou Kane, IMROPAbdoulaye Sarre, hydro-acoustic specialist of the Centre des Recherches Océanographiques de Dakar-Thiaroye (CRODT) in Senegal reported results of probably climate change induced changes in the distribution of small pelagics like Sardinellas, which are of utmost importance for small-scale fisheries and food security in the region. These changes resulting from temperature shifts come on top of stress induced by industrial overfishing.

Aliou Ba, an economist, also of CRODT, gave background information about research into the drastic decrease of income earning possibilities of small-scale fishers, which are affecting the daily lives, work organisation and outlook of small-scale fishers in the region. The research shows a significant increase of their vulnerability.

Elimane Abou Kane of Institut Mauritanien de Recherche Océanographique et des Pêches (IMROP) in Nouadhibou, Mauritania, spoke about changes in the large protected area, Parc National du Banc d'Arguin, which serves millions of migrating birds a seasonal refuge and used to be a breathing space for reproduction for mullets and other fish species.

Participants at the workshopThe parc was established in 1974 covering an area of about 12,000 sqkm.

Under conditions of increasing sea temperature and partially illegal fishing the eight most important fish species show important decreased biomass and three new species have appeared.

The thermic boundary between the warm Guinea Current and the cold Canary Current used to be in Mauritania in the mid-1990s.

But the boundary moved further north at the beginning of the millennium and is now located north of Agadir.

That brought about changes in the marine fauna as well.

In the session on Academic training and capacity building in small-scale fisheries, Cornelia E Nauen of Mundus maris presented the concept and basic ideas of the Small-Scale Fisheries Academy in Senegal.

The concept is borne out of the need to find ways of bringing different perspectives together - both the deep empirical knowledge of fishers, fish processing and marketing women and traders and the more academically underpinned knowledge of managers, researchers, civil society organisations and others.

Cornelia E Nauen of Mundus maris All of these have some knowledge that is precious for better understanding.

But all are struggling to find robust answers in a rapidly changing ecological, economic and social context under conditions of global markets.

Mundus maris therefore proposes some pilot activities of this academy as a safe and respectful space for bringing different people together to share latest research results in understandable language and pictures.

It is intended to allow exploring together options for action that help implement the SSF Guidelines and secure a living for SSF for years to come.

The pilots should start this year in search of developing the underlying agora concept in feasible ways in the Senegalese context. 

Inputs from workshop participants who feel drawn to the idea are most welcome. Aliou Sall of Mundus maris will coordinate these efforts on the ground.

Brest - the old Vauban castle protecting the entry to the River PenfeldPresentations and discussions the following day allowed to 

  • look into specific conditions in the South Pacific,
  • take stock about experiences with different research approaches towards small-scale fisheries and
  • cast light on mechanisms to enable more collaboration with developing countries.

Tony Charles placed all the emphasis in his talk on the role of communities, stewardship for resource conservation and livelihoods as key conditions for successful work with SSF.

Supporting local communities in active roles in the governance of the coastal commons was suggested as key to build bridges between global Sustainable Development Goals and the ecosystem approach to fisheries with local ground realities.

The workshop concluded with an exchange focused on collecting key messages and suggestions to be carried forward to the congress in Thailand working towards securing sustainable small-scale fisheries. These transformations take time and involve rethinking and testing new approaches at different scales - walking the talk is never easy, especially not in the beginning.

Octopus in OceanopolisNowhere is this more apparent than in the slow transformation of Brest from a port city dominated for centuries by the military navy to something altogether different today.

Small-scale fishers and harvesters of invertebrates have lost ground to recreational boats after trawlers and pollution from industrial piggeries affected the quality of the coastal environment and its ecosystems for decades.

It is easier to get Norvegian farmed salmon in the restaurant than fresh local fish. Will the artisans of the sea again play a major role in the coastal economy in the future?

Right now we can enjoy the splendour of the sea complete with well-grounded scientific explanations in the wonderful spaces of Oceanopolis - a more than worthwhile way to spend a day in awe and playful learning. But we should not give up hope to kindle a different, more direct and respectful relationship with the sea and the people of the sea.

Text and pictures by Cornelia E Nauen.