National Consultation in Honduras on the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries
Organized by CODDEFFAGOLF, member of the WFFP, with support from the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF)
23-24 November 2011
San Lorenzo, Valle, Honduras
25 men and women representatives from fishworker organizations and associations, Cooperatives and Misquita communities and those of African descent, NGOs, government authorities and international organizations with an interest in strengthening inland and marine small scale fisheries, gathered to participate in the “NATIONAL HONDURAN CONSULTATION ON THE FAO GUIDELINES FOR SMALL SCALE FISHERIES”, which took place on 23 and 24 of November 2011 in the port of San Lorenzo, Valle, Honduras.
We expressed our satisfaction at the interest shown by the Committee on Fisheries of the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO COFI) in supporting consultations in developing countries on what will be voluntary guidelines for inland and marine small scale fisheries, which could be implemented by Governments that are members of the FAO COFI.
The contribution of small scale and artisanal fisheries in Honduras is not yet taken account of in national economic indices like GNP, although small scale fishing is the main activity of local populations who depend on fishery resources.
We recognize that despite this, fisheries represent an important activity, providing food and jobs for local and remote communities for men and women who work at sea and in their communities, although they don’t receive any social benefits and are deprived of the economic incentives that other groups in the country enjoy.
We take into account that inland and marine artisanal fishing is also linked to other cultures, and that it is the main source of food to millions of families who are amongst the poorest and who live directly from these resources.
We are concerned by the progressive loss of aquatic biological diversity, due to the lack of governance in resource management, the lack of an ecosystem based approach and the possible impacts of climate change and the increasing risks from natural disasters.
We stress the fundamental role played by women in fish catching, trade, processing and other activities associated with fisheries and the urgent need to assist them, to make them more visible and to gain equal recognition for their support and participation in the governance of the sector.
We are conscious of the need to protect the cultural identity, the dignity and the traditional rights of fishing communities, of indigenous and misquita communities and people of African descent as provided for in such international instruments as International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169.
We call on FAO to consider our recommendations, and on the Honduran Government to take account of the issues raised in this document in the new Fisheries and Aquaculture Law that is currently being discussed, as well as in other framework and policy instruments that govern the small scale and artisanal fisheries sector in the country.
- We recommend that fishery closures and other conservation measures be applied to improve fisheries management, whilst providing economic alternatives for fishworkers in the region.
- Conservation of coastal, marine and inland wetland areas (coral reefs, sea grass beds, lagoons, mangrove swamps and associated ecosystems etc) should be made a priority.
- The implementation of fishery and aquaculture activities should not threaten rivers, lakes, wetland areas and associated ecosystems or put them in danger, and require that comprehensive and effective measures are established for their conservation.
- The capture of eggs, larval stages and fingerlings in the wild should be prohibited (or at least ensure that methods are used which avoid the mortality of by catch species); reproduction should be managed in hatcheries.
- The necessary fishery infrastructure to facilitate fishing activities should be constructed, including wharfs and artificial reefs.
- Community based ecotourism should be promoted, the quality of marine products should be improved prior to marketing them; and alternatives to production promoted.
- Artisanal fisheries activities should be subsidized, particularly fuel, lubricants, equipment and inputs and lift import taxes on fishing gears and motors to organized groups in small scale fisheries.
- Fishery and aquaculture projects that in any way affect the lives of local or indigenous, misquita and African Honduran communities should compensate them and contribute to the improvement of their quality of life, as a commitment to corporate social responsibility.
- Aquaculture enterprises, sugarcane plantations, agricultural exporters, tourists and even towns and cities should be obliged to have systems for waste water treatment, to maintain purity and so keep fishing areas in a healthy state.
- Small scale and artisanal fishing should receive State financial support for organizing, training, technical assistance, providing credit and institutional strengthening, so that the fishermen can become small entrepreneurs.
- Fishing companies and industrial aquaculture, based on a commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, should support local, indigenous, misquita and African Honduran communities, that are most affected by their operations, investing a percentage - to be defined - of their net profits in socio-environmental projects.
- Aquaculture industries should allow artisanal and small scale fishing activities to take place in their inlet channels, according to a scheduled, managed and regulated plan, as a way to compensate for cultural damage, and the use of water, biodiversity and other National natural resources.
- Aquaculture companies that are under State control should, as a first option, have their concessions and farm improvements transferred to fishermen, with support provided to them through a technical assistance and financial plan.
- In order to protect artisanal and small scale fisheries industrial trawl fishing should be banned on the North coast within 9 nautical miles from the baselines out to sea.
- Industrial fishing should be banned in areas around cays and fishing grounds within a depth of 60 metres, with access reserved for small scale and artisanal fishing.
- Industrial fishing vessels and aquaculture (operations) should have contingency plans to deal with accidents at work that include the operation of fast vehicles that can be driven immediately to hospital when necessary.
- Fishing by divers with (SCUBA) tanks should be banned, with trap fishing and diving with snorkels up to depths of 30 feet promoted as alternatives.
- All vessels and installations used in aquaculture should have first aid kits, and their staff should be provided with social security and life insurance, including for accidents.
- The incursion, use and trade in fishing gears that threaten aquatic biodiversity should be banned.
- The use of clams, shells and other organisms extracted from the environment should be prohibited for processing into compound feeds for aquaculture.
- A conservation programme for bivalves (clams, mussels, oysters, casco de burro etc.) and crabs should be established, led by the Government, fishworker organizations, and others with competence in the subject.
- Government departments and private enterprises should participate with communities to apply measures to restrict the use of agrichemicals and plastics that are non-biodegradable and which pollute the aquatic environment.
- Alternative uses for discarded by-catch species should be researched as soon as possible.
- The Aquaculture and Fisheries General Directorate (DIGEPESCA) in collaboration with communities should collect and analyze fisheries statistics, and establish the necessary infrastructure to obtain reliable data on a continuous basis.
- Artisanal fishers and indigenous African Honduran communities should be trained and supported to establish hatcheries for fish and shellfish and for other useful aquatic species.
- Customary and historic rights of fishers and communities should be ratified in Honduras’s new Aquaculture and Fisheries Law with regards to the use of beaches, mangroves, islands, cays and islets that have traditionally been used by fishers as sites for fishing, launching and landing for their gears, fish catches etc.
- The right of passage should be mandatory so that fishers and other users can have free access to inland and marine waters and to wetlands without payment
- Workshops to instruct fishers and to disseminate laws related to human rights should be promoted.
- The impunity with which offences are being committed against fishers by aquaculture companies, vessel captains and the Honduran civil and military authorities must be stopped.
- Organisations and associations of artisanal and small scale fishers, members of indigenous communities and people of African descent should be empowered to ensure that the human rights of fishers and their families are safeguarded.
- The privatisation of aquatic ecosystems and their biodiversity should be avoided, whether through transferable fishing quotas or under any pretext.
Societal and Labour-related Benefits
- Social benefits must be guaranteed for small scale and artisanal fishers by their employers and the State, including social security, retirement, maternity, disablement, and unemployment insurance.
- Access should be established to fishers’ settlements and basic services (water and sanitation) provided to improve living conditions in the artisanal fishing sector.
- The Government through the competent institutions should cover the funeral costs of fishers of low means.
- Before a closed season is declared, DIGEPESCA should make it widely known, whilst assuring alternative sources of income through other activities for small scale fishing.
- Child labour in fishing should be banned whilst integrated programmes of education, literacy, health and recreation should be simultaneously promoted in fishing communities for which the State should provide incentives through grants and such like.
- Governments should promote credit programmes for the sector for purchasing decent housing for fishers.
- Coastal protection should be established and fishers who have lost their homes due to storm surges and other phenomena that affect the coastline should be resettled
- A fund should be set up for the children of small scale fishers for scholarships for different academic levels and for subjects related to fishery activities.
- Jurisdictional boundaries of countries sharing the Gulf of Fonseca should be marked with appropriate buoys and an integrated management plan for coastal marine resources should be initiated, with the participation of the authorities and civil society from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.
- The Honduran government should exercise their sovereignty over waters in the Pacific Ocean, thereby enabling Honduran nationals to fish in these waters.
- Improve vessel safety by equipping them with life jackets and radio communication systems so that fishers can communicate with a help and rescue service set up by the government, in case of accident, risk of disaster or persecution.
- A sea safety service should be established that guarantees that artisanal fishers are safeguarded and that they are protected against crime. The Navy should defend our national sovereignty and the physical integrity of fishermen.
- The total number of artisanal fishers should be documented, free of charge and in centres close to their communities, with the necessary identification and with their respective permission, thereby strengthening the national artisanal fishing register.
- Awareness raising processes should be initiated aimed at artisanal fishers on the importance of conserving fishery resources through the use of appropriate gears and practices and other measures.
- A legal mechanism for protecting whistleblowers should be established.
- The use of vessels that have chill facilities incorporated should be promoted, so that product quality can be conserved and its market value increased.
- Credit facilities tailored for artisanal fishers should be promoted, with incentives and preferential interest rates that allow fishers to free themselves from middlemen, to obtain their own fishing equipment and to invest in their activity generally.
- Storage facilities should be established along the coast equipped with chill systems and complete equipment for handling and conserving fishery products.
- A system of prices for fishery production should be established so that fishers are not hurt by fluctuating prices.
- New markets should be opened up, including internationally, for artisanal fisheries for the commercialisation of marine products that guarantee a just and equal distribution of benefits from small scale and artisanal fisheries for both fishing communities and consumers.
- Systems of auction halls should be established at strategic points that enable fishery products to be stored and traded under the right conditions of quality and price.
- The processing and development of products derived from the sea should be promoted as alternative ways to increase small scale fishers’ incomes.
- Projects for artisanal fisheries should be equitable for both men and women so that women can also benefit from the means of production that are used in this activity.
- Control centres for fishery products that are transported by land to markets should be staffed by qualified persons with adequate instrumentation and command of local languages.
- DIGEPESCA should be strengthened as an institution, creating sub offices in municipalities, especially in fishing areas, strengthen their control and surveillance and fishery statistics systems, whilst establishing a self sufficient and independent structure within the Secretariat for Agriculture and Livestock (SAG).
- Create an institute for scientific research on marine resources for the monitoring and conservation of fishery species.
- Create local surveillance committees with the powers of authority and of decision taking provided by the State and in coordination with the fishery authorities.
- Promote the harmonisation of artisanal fishery policies with patrolling trans-boundary waters.
- Strengthen the means for control and surveillance as well as the rules applied for sanctioning industrial trawl fishing within the 9 nautical miles reserved for small scale and artisanal fishing.
- Industrial fishing should be carried out beyond the 9 nautical mile zone reserved for small scale and artisanal fishing.
- Taxes and earnings generated through use of fishery resources should be paid in those departments and/or municipalities where the earnings are generated thus providing the possibility for such earnings being reinvested in the affected areas.
- Consultations on development projects should be undertaken with sufficient prior information to obtain the necessary consent and commitment on what is agreed, and not just be limited to consultation.
- Fishery management programmes and plans should be equitable but differentiated in the case of indigenous and misquita communities and those of African descent, with rules to preserve the cultural patrimony in accordance with the interests of the local people.
- The formulation and execution of national fishery development plans should be included in the current legislation.
- Legal instruments should be devised to eradicate the use of destructive fishing gears and methods that damage aquatic biological diversity.
- Spaces for dialogue between the government, civil society and small scale and artisanal fishers, should be opened up to define local strategies to manage aquatic resources.
- Promote the creation of genuine national spaces for integrating artisanal and small scale fisheries in which they are represented by delegates from the four cardinal points and diverse sectors so that the problems discussed are national.
- The participation of fishing communities in the process of granting environmental licenses for aquaculture should be ensured, which must receive the approval of small scale fishing communities.
- Studies should be undertaken and changes in marine and inland waters should be monitored to find timely responses to disasters that may be caused by such changes.
- Monitoring changes in the behaviour of species should be carried out in participation with fishers’ organizations; green areas established on the banks of lagoons; regular inventories made of marine flora and fauna species, with studies to update inventories; measures adopted for the establishment and management of artificial reefs as breeding and nursery areas for marine species and food security; programmes of mangrove replanting implemented as sites of diversity in areas of small scale fishing.
- COPECO (Commission for Emergencies), SERNA (Natural Resources and Environment Secretariat), and SAG should strengthen the resilience and capacity of fishing communities to adapt in the context of disaster mitigation and climate change.
- DIGEPESCA should establish policies and institutional frameworks for disaster mitigation and adaptation to climate change for small scale and artisanal fisheries.
- DIGEPESCA along with the COPECO should determine, evaluate and monitor the risks of disaster and climate change with impacts on small scale fisheries and improve early warning systems.
Risks of Disasters
- A contingency plan should be drawn up which outlines responses before, during and after disasters and natural or manmade catastrophes; building up local capacity for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.
- Through the competent authorities governments should establish a mechanism of financial incentives for alleviating the negative effects and damage caused by phenomena caused by climate change.
- Measures should be taken to strengthen and equip authorized entities for monitoring marine and inland waters with modern equipment that allows an immediate response to be made to the effects of climate change.
- A parallel mechanism should be created for monitoring the management of risks comprising fishers organizations to reduce the human losses caused by the effects of climate change.
- Fishers organizations should be offered opportunities for community based training on issues of climate change and risk management prior to adverse events.
- A rapid recovery fund should be set up for fishers organizations, with preferential credit facilities and interest rates and with reasonable time limits, so as to reactivate local economies and generate a capacity for resilience to adverse events.
- Through humanitarian networks the construction and equipping of lodgings should be managed for those affected from fishers organizations so as to ensure safe refuges for fishing communities in emergency situations, as a priority giving special attention to women, girl and boy children and the elderly.
- Large projects should be accompanied by an environmental impact assessment that includes an analysis of risks and disasters and prevention and mitigation measures. Companies should take responsibility for compensating for the damage caused directly or indirectly by their activities on their neighbours.
- Knowledge, innovation and instruction should be used to create a culture of security and resilience in small scale and artisanal fishing communities, at both local and national levels.
- Attempts to reduce the factors that underpin risks for small scale and artisanal fishing communities should be made, as well as strengthening disaster mitigation and adaptation to climate change so as to provide an effective response to these situations.
Actualizado (Sábado, 21 de Enero de 2012 09:48)