Small-scale fisheries communities and Aichi Target 11: Achieving conservation, sustainable livelihoods and food security in MPAs and other effective area-based measures (OEABMs)
At the UN Conference on Biodiversity (CBD) COP13 held from the 4-17 December in Cancun, Mexico, EBCD together with the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, IUCN-CEM-FEG and in collaboration with ICSF organised a side event on the 7th of December entitled Small-scale fisheries communities and Aichi Target 11: Achieving conservation, sustainable livelihoods and food security in MPAs and other effective area-based measures (OEABMs).
This event, moderated by Lena Westlund, FAO, considered the important role of small-scale fishers as part of the solution to healthy marine ecosystems, particularly in coastal areas. It also highlighted the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (the SSF Guidelines).
Westlund said that achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 on MPAs and other effective area-based measures (OEABMs) depends on mainstreaming effective fishing community participation.
Serge García, IUCN-CEM-FEG, explained why mainstreaming community participation in MPAs and OEABMS is important, underscoring that communities have formal rights to ecosystem services, and that human rights, including the right to food, should be secured if MPAs are to become successful.
Alifereti Tawake, Pacific Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network, discussed the legal and institutional framework and processes enabling LMMAs. She said LMMAs are critical as they help reduce the tragedy of the commons by facilitating adaptive management through fisheries associations.
Minerva Arce, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), reported on the recognition of human rights and norms of indigenous peoples in the Mexican constitution. She cited the ‘Too Big To Ignore’ project, which addresses community-based and participatory approaches for sustainable small-scale fisheries.
Mitchell Lay, Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organization (CNFO), shared the challenges of MPAs in the Caribbean, and said they have benefited tourism more than fisheries. Citing the example of the set up and expansion of an MPA in Belize, he noted that fishers’ cooperatives were weakened as tourism blossomed, with fishers displaced from meaningful livelihoods.
Vivienne Solis, ICSF, Costa Rica, said the SSF Guidelines have been useful in creating co-management structures and cited the formation of Marine Responsible Fishing Areas spearheaded by fishermen in Costa Rica. She referred to awareness raising, training of trainers, workshops and other activities to popularize the wider use of the SSF Guidelines in Central America.
In discussions, participants noted that, inter alia: MPAs should consider equity within the fisheries supply chain, particularly in regards to middlemen; and that finding a solution to fish spoils en route to markets will also address fishing pressure.
Overexploitation, environmental degradation, social inequities, tenure insecurity and poverty are interconnected threats to aquatic biodiversity conservation and to coastal and rural communities that depend on aquatic resources for their livelihoods and well-being. It is crucial to determine the appropriate forms of MPAs and OEABMs that can both improve biodiversity conservation and maintain or improve livelihoods and food security. Participation of the communities concerned in assessment, planning and implementation is essential. The question is then how to mainstream effective community participation, including the recognition or development of tenure rights, into both fishery and conservation policies, strategies and plans. Participation is a key guiding principle of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) and the human rights based approach (HRBA), which seeks to ensure the non-discriminatory empowerment and participation of small-scale fishing communities in transparent and accountable decision-making processes.