Latin American Workshop Statement

August 8, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments |

Statement made at: Latin American workshop on Artisanal Fishing: ASSERTING RIGHTS, DEFINING RESPONSIBILITIES:


Punta de Tralca Chile, 4 – 8 August 2008



The Latin American workshop on Artisanal Fishing, held in Punta de Tralca, Chile from 4 to 8 August 2008, was co-organized by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers ICSF-CIAPA, CeDePesca, Ecoceanos, and the National Confederation of Chilean Artisanal Fishermen, CONAPACH, to debate and analyse forms of consolidating and securing access to resources and use rights for artisanal fishing.

Participants in the event included artisanal fishing organizations from 12 Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, with the Central American isthmus represented by Confepesca from Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama, some representatives from indigenous groups in Latin America, along with experts, researchers and NGOs associated with the artisanal fishing sector. The workshop analysed the thematic issues of the World Conference on Artisanal Fishing, to be organized in Bangkok, Thailand in October 2008.

The following statements, proposals and demands are intended as an input to the FAO’s INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ARTISANAL FISHING IN BANKOK IN OCTOBER 2008.


1.1.     Participants would like to emphasise to the FAO that artisanal fishermen and women, indigenous people, and traditional fishing communities are people with their own territory, culture and economic activities grounded in fishery related work, and which form the basis of their identity and livelihoods; they have access rights and are entitled to enjoy post harvest benefits, to contribute food to neighbouring areas and to supply external markets.

1.2.     We consider that sustainable fishery resource exploitation is best achieved through artisanal fishing activities. The culture of artisanal fishing should therefore be strengthened, with support provided to developing fisheries activities based on a responsible and ethical conduct and for sustainable resource management. The definition of artisanal fishermen, artisanal fishing and artisanal fishing communities should be left to the realities of each country, given that artisanal fishing is a socio-cultural expression and not merely a form of employment.

1.3.     We uphold the common property nature of aquatic resources, and oppose the privatisation of resource rights in the aquatic environment. The rights of artisanal fishermen, of indigenous people, of women and of local communities who depend on coastal marine and inland water resources, and resource sustainability should be secured and safeguarded. Allocating rights of access to and use of the aquatic environment to others should not undermine these rights.

1.4.     Fishing rights should be understood as collective rights without in any way undermining the rights of artisanal fishermen, or generating divisions in their communities. Above all, the Latin American artisanal fishing sector should be guaranteed the right to develop and direct its own future.

1.5.     The application of rights based fishery management tools should not undermine the access and user rights of Artisanal Fishing Communities to fisheries resources or encourage resource overexploitation, as has been the case in the application of Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs).

1.6.     We reject ITQs, which have had severe environmental, social and economic impacts. They put artisanal fishing communities and their fishery based livelihoods in jeopardy, and represent a highly inequitable system of resource rights’ allocation.

1.7.     Participants call for a vision of economic development in Latin America based on a wider set of objectives and values. The model that those countries that control the world economy seek to impose must be challenged, given the far reaching implications for fisheries activities and for the access rights of fishing communities and indigenous peoples and of people of African decent. These countries should be informed about and should respect forms of fishery resource use traditionally practiced by the world’s artisanal fishermen.

1.8.     Globalisation that is based mainly on trade threatens the survival of communities by imposing such a model of economic development. Fisheries management must address the negative effects of excessive demands above natural capacities generated by globalisation; fishing companies, processors, traders and consumers should be informed about and comply with the conditions required by the responsible management and use of resources.


2.1.Fishing communities should enjoy the full benefits offered by the declaration of human rights, international agreements, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR and ICCPR)), and the Rio Declaration, amongst other international conventions on human rights.

2.2.The rights of peoples of African descent should be protected, assuring them freedom from discrimination as regards access to resources and land tenure, reaffirming the United Nations declarations on indigenous peoples and their customary rights. The ILO Convention No 169 should be interpreted broadly so that the rights it enshrines are extended to all types of fishing communities, indigenous people and people of African descent.

2.3.The customary rights associated with traditional use by aboriginal peoples should be recognized as integral to the rights of artisanal fishermen to access and exploit aquatic resources.

2.4.Coastal settlements, public roads and working areas must be protected and consolidated, with infrastructure and basic services provided to them; internal and trans-border displacement and migrations from coastal communities must be tackled in the face of increasing numbers of users in coastal areas and ecosystems.

2.5.Education and training should be assured to artisanal fishing communities without discrimination, with technological training provided based on appropriate and appropriable scientific knowledge.

2.6. Measures should be sought to strengthen and protect the rights of women so that they can fully participate in fisheries. These measures should contribute to the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women – within the artisanal fishing sector – to facilitate their recognition and inclusion in resource extraction, as well as in those other activities that support and benefit the fishery.

2.7.The role of women in the different stages of fish catching, culture, processing and trade, and in service activities, including as political and union representatives, is growing and becoming better established. This is thanks to their persistent struggle to win space in a traditionally masculine world. With it comes the challenge of developing alternative leadership models based on equality and complementarity of gender and the full expression of their leadership capacities, minimizing internal struggles for power.

2.8.Given that women in artisanal fisheries play key roles as educators and in the transmission and defence of cultural identity, priority must be afforded – adapted to the characteristics of each region – for organized women to access opportunities and resources that increase and strengthen their knowledge to create, master and apply technologies in different stages of the productive and trade cycle, as well as in negotiating and communicating activities, and in the processes of productive diversification and value addition.

2.9.It is urgent that laws are implemented that guarantee rights to social security, with minimum coverage guaranteed for men and women workers in the artisanal fishing sector, as well as assuring the right to health, education, basic services, and safety on land and at sea.

2.10.        Support should be provided in the creation and development of regional blocks (MERCOSUR, Comunidad Andina, CARICOM, APEC, TLCAN etc) for strengthening participatory processes of coastal and artisanal fishing communities in the management of coastal, fresh water and high seas fisheries resources at the national and Latin American levels.

2.11.        Artisanal fishing organizations should participate actively in the processes of establishing Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) in ways that strengthen marine conservation objectives for various fishery resources that are threatened by the unregulated and unreported operations of industrial fishing fleets. Adverse impacts must be avoided on subsistence, small-scale and artisanal fishers and women fishworkers, as well as indigenous people, and artisanal fishing rights on high seas resources must be ensured as set out in the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA 1995) and in the current negotiating process towards the South Pacific RFMO.

2.12.        Artisanal fishermen’s and fisherwomen’s organizations should be promoted and protected against attempts to fragment and divide them; States should not foster welfare oriented and paternalistic policies that create dependency in coastal and artisanal fishing communities.

2.13.        We call on international human rights organizations to recognize and defend the rights of fishing communities, and their leaders. Community leaders need protection against persecution and repression for defending the rights of their people to sustainability, to access resources and to environmental conservation; rights that are fundamental for community development.

2.14.        States should define specific policies for artisanal fishing and coastal communities, incorporating them into national development strategies as an important productive sector, thereby guaranteeing the provision of food for their populations, including poor coastal communities especially those of indigenous origin through comprehensive programmes that also guarantee their territorial rights.

2.15.        Aid strategies for the fisheries sector should take account of biodiversity, traditional knowledge and the culture of Latin American fishing communities, securing financial support and occupational training that strengthens their rights and which promotes the full participation of fishermen and their communities in society and the economy.

2.16.        The serious effects that global warming is having on artisanal fishing communities must be addressed, considering that their settlements are located in high risk areas due to rising sea levels, rising waters, storms and other natural phenomena.

2.17.        States should back tourism initiatives from artisanal fishing communities and indigenous people, with the aim of making tourism a factor for development and not a further cause for displacement and impoverishment of artisanal fishermen. Tourist activities should respect artisanal fishing settlements, should allow their productive activities to be realized and their full participation in local decisions that promote this activity.


The key conditions for securing sustainable resource use and access rights to fishery resources and land areas by artisanal fishermen and coastal communities are as follows:

3.1.States and non-governmental organizations should recognize the relevance of artisanal fishing, coastal communities and indigenous people in protecting biodiversity and in the sustainable management of aquatic resources respecting their customary access and use rights.

3.2.States should ensure that the natural environments from which products are extracted, are healthy, of high quality, and free from pollutants that degrade their natural conditions.

3.3.States should protect aquatic resources and the fishing grounds exploited by artisanal fishermen, by excluding industrial fleets and intensive aquaculture from these areas, guaranteeing that fisheries contribute to improving the living conditions for fishing families and their communities in the long term.

3.4.Exclusive artisanal fishing areas free from trawling should be established, within the first five nautical miles, and preference within this area should be given to artisanal activities using selective gears as a key factor of responsible fishing.

3.5.Fishing gears and fishing zones should be regulated by gear type with the object of minimizing interference between different artisanal and industrial fleets, especially as regards industrial purse seining and trawling.

3.6.States should, with the participation of artisanal fishermen, evaluate the impacts of trawling on fishery resources. Measures that protect recruitment and spawning areas, crucial for sustaining fisheries, and measures to ensure that trawl fisheries do not reduce availability of resources to artisanal fishing should be applied.

3.7.Transparent, scientifically based fisheries information should be guaranteed as a right, made accessible at all levels, taking account of traditional knowledge of artisanal fishing communities for the sake of sustainability and the benefits of future generations.

3.8.Artisanal fishing access rights should incorporate the development of aquaculture activities that respect biodiversity, genetic wealth and equitable distribution of income, which place priority on the repopulation of aquatic spaces with native species whilst prohibiting the indiscriminate introduction of exotic species and promoting the restoration of aquatic ecosystems.

3.9.We express deep concern over the unrestricted expansion of industrial aquaculture, notably for salmon and shrimp, in Latin America. This is having serious negative impacts on the aquatic environment, biodiversity, public health, food security, local communities, artisanal fishing access and user rights, and on the health of workers employed in the sector. We therefore call on States to suspended the granting of further concessions for industrial aquaculture until they are able to ensure the conservation of biodiversity, aquatic ecosystems, fishery resources, public health and the rights of coastal communities, artisanal fishing access and user rights, and respect for workers’ and consumers’ rights.

3.10.        Proposals for establishing marine protected areas should be undertaken only after informing, and with the participation of, coastal artisanal fishing communities, ensuring that their rights to use and access fishing and traditional coastal zone areas are respected, assuring their participation in the management and administration of these areas, and taking their local knowledge into consideration.

3.11.        Action should be taken to tackle the problems of insecurity in coastal areas arising from drug trafficking, piracy, and natural disasters and that states assume their responsibilities for marine safety.

3.12.        States should keep vigilant on developments such as hydro-thermal power generating, mining and industrial projects, which may negatively impact on the environment and on the productive activities of artisanal fishermen in the coastal areas, conducting environmental impact studies and applying stringent precautionary and preventative environmental regulations. Corporate responsibility in the event of pollution, and “the polluter pays” principle should be applied.


The following conditions and measures are considered of importance for artisanal fishing communities in Latin America to access post harvest fishery benefits from capture and culture activities:

4.1.    Support should be provided to encourage the unity, organization and participation of the artisanal fishing sector in the formulation of market standards and in the decision making processes on the trade of fish and fishery products. Negative impacts of free trade agreements on artisanal fishing, on the sustainability of fisheries, and in the organization of local markets should be evaluated and prevented.

4.2.    States should progressively re-orient the destination of fishery resources used for making fishmeal and oil to direct human consumption.

4.3.    Greater State support should be provided to put in place the essential infrastructure and tools needed for fishing communities to access local and international markets, including government established storage, processing and dispatch centres, with proper conditions for managing quality and safety of fish and fishery products.

4.4.    Support should be provided for the creation of artisanal fishermen’s associations to undertake the processing and marketing of products, regulating the activities of intermediaries, and providing direct access to the final consumer.

4.5.    Artisanal fishing companies should be strengthened by improving access to bank credit, through the development of initiatives such as “community-based banks” that provide micro-credit as an option for artisanal fishermen, at affordable rates of interest.

4.6.    Training programmes should be developed for processing, sales and marketing, to assure the successful management of ventures undertaken by artisanal fishermen.

4.7.    The commercial chain should be properly strengthened so that fishery resource use rights can be fully enjoyed by artisanal fishing communities, for both local and external consumption.

4.8.    Conditions should be developed for certification to be applied to fishery products caught or cultivated in environmentally sound, sustainable and socially acceptable ways, with communities themselves developing their own labels that display their attributes, whilst ensuring that ecolabels do not become barriers for market access.

4.9.     Alliances should be established between fishers and consumers to establish commercial recognition of sustainable fishing and to develop labels recognizable in the main markets.



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