Statement made by: International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF)
Made at: HLS on marine and coastal biodiversity, COP11, CBD, India. 18 October 2012.
About 400 million people worldwide are estimated to depend on inland and marine fisheries and fish farming for a livelihood. Most of them are in the artisanal and small-scale sector in the tropical multi-species fisheries of the developing world. While the artisanal and small-scale sector contributes significantly to the economy and to food security, there is enough evidence to indicate that a high proportion, especially in developing countries, continue to be among the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society.
Coastal and indigenous fishing communities have a long-term stake in the conservation and protection of biodiversity, given their reliance on coastal and marine biodiversity for livelihoods and income. Generations of close interaction with the coastal ecosystem have led to well-developed traditional ecological knowledge systems (TEKS). This knowledge is manifested in numerous ways, as in the diversity, selectivity and ecological sophistication of the craft and gear used, in the intimate knowledge of weather and climate-related factors, and in the varied ways in which coastal resources are used for medicinal and other purposes. Such TEKS have contributed to sustain both the livelihoods of these communities and the integrity of the ecosystems. Such TEK has formed the basis of numerous systems for management of resources that have been documented across the world.
Coastal fishing communities can be powerful allies in the efforts to conserve, restore and protect coastal and marine biodiversity. Critical to this involvement, however, is the need to recognize, protect and strengthen their rights to access and use biodiversity in a responsible manner, to pursue sustainable livelihoods, and to participate in decision-making and resource management processes at all levels.
Recognition of these rights would provide an enabling framework for coastal fishing communities to fulfil their responsibilities towards biodiversity conservation and its sustainable use, and would contribute to the overall objectives of the CBD
We are concerned however such issues are not well enough reflected in the programme of work on marine and coastal biodiversity, and in actual initiatives for management and conservation of MCBD on the ground.
ICSF studies undertaken in countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America have documented many cases of displacement/disenfranchisement of local small-scale fishing communities and violations of their human rights due to marine protected area (MPA) practice
We will continue to work to document such cases, as well as cases of good practice, including management systems of indigenous peoples and local communities, and to bring it to the attention of all, to achieve our common objective: protection of biodiversity and the livelihoods and cultures of local and small-scale fishing communities.