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Exploring small-scale fisheries on a global scale

Despite the distance between them, these small-scale fishers in Thailand face many of the same challenges as those involved in the inshore fishery.

By Rebecca Cohoe

An upcoming Memorial Presents public policy forum will explore the challenges faced by small-scale fisheries, including the inshore fishery here in Newfoundland and Labrador, within the greater global context.

What Is the Future of the Inshore Fishery? Experiences in Other Jurisdictions will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 5, beginning at 7:30 p.m., Newfoundland Standard Time, in Innovation Hall in the Bruneau Centre for Innovation and Research on Memorial's St. John's campus. All are welcome to attend, and the event will be webcast live on the Harris Centre website at  www.mun.ca/harriscentre.

The forum will feature a panel of leading researchers and practitioners in issues related to small-scale fisheries, who will share their stories and help place the provincial fishery in an international context. The panellists are Naseegh Jaffer, Masifundise, South Africa; Mohamed Munas, Centre for Poverty Analysis, Sri Lanka; Svein Jentoft, University of Tromso, Norway; Constanza Ribot, Comunidad y Biodiversidad, Mexico; and Evelyn Pinkerton, Simon Fraser University, Canada.

The group, along with several other international fisheries experts, is in St. John's for the inaugural meeting of a new partnership project, Too Big to Ignore, aimed at highlighting the importance of small-scale fisheries and their social and economic contributions, and exploring ways to promote their well-being and support their way of life. According to Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee, Canada Research Chair in Natural Resource Sustainability and Community Development in Memorial's Department of Geography and the project director, fisheries in many other jurisdictions are experiencing similar challenges to those faced in this province.

"The importance of small-scale fisheries to food security, poverty alleviation, cultural identity and the social safety net, as well as their contributions to employment, is well recognized," she said. "Yet, for the most part, the small-scale fishing sector is economically and politically marginalized, and their user and access rights are not always respected."

Along with discussing the common challenges of inshore fisheries on a global scale, the panellists will also share possible solutions.

"One idea that keeps coming up is better organization of fishers, through associations or co-operatives, to help gain bargaining power and to take advantage of the market situation," said Dr. Chuenpagdee. "Other governance models like co-management, locally- and community-based management and decentralization, with policies that pay attention to the specificity of small-scale fisheries, with mechanisms that enhance their participation in governance, and with principles that support their way of life, have shown to work in many places."

Admission and parking are free. A reception will follow the forum.

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