The protection of 30% of marine areas by 2030 – a key proposal debated at COP-15 – must not be done to the detriment of small-scale fishermen. This is the cry of alarm launched Wednesday by artisanal and indigenous fishermen at the international summit on biodiversity which opened in Montreal.
“If we are not seated at the table, we are going to be on the menu to be eaten”, explained Felicito Núñez Bernandez, who came to bring the voice of fishermen from the Garifuna community of Honduras in a panel on fishing in Small scale.
“We are not against 30% water protection, we want to know what they will offer local communities when they decide to close fishing grounds. This is the point on which we have come to fight,” he added on the sidelines of the conference, which included Canada, Iceland and the WWF organization among its hosts.
The latter specifies that the communities that survive from fishing have often felt burned by protected area projects.
[Trop fréquemment] the rules are established without the consent of the local populations.
Felicito Nunez Bernandez
This feeling is shared by Alfonso Simon Raylan, a fisherman established in the indigenous region of Ngöbe-Buglé, in Panama. He says his community has felt penalized by the establishment of ecological areas. “In our territory, several things have happened. Everything we were promised was lies,” sea workers union president Sitramar lamented after listening to the panel.
“At all times, we, the indigenous peoples, have lived in tranquility our relationship with nature […] We know how to conserve. We are neither scientists nor biologists, on the other hand, we know what to take and what to leave,” he added.
The food system at the heart of the debates
COP15, taking place at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal, aims to establish a new global framework for the protection and restoration of nature by 2030. One of the main measures being discussed is the protection of 30% of land and of the oceans by 2030 on a global scale.
The food system is at the heart of the discussions. The 196 member countries must discuss target 18 in particular. fisheries, to redirect them to projects that respect nature. The text also proposes prioritizing the involvement of indigenous and local peoples in this process.
“Humanity needs food. The enemy of biodiversity is not us, it is not artisanal fishing, on the contrary, artisanal fishing is the friend of biodiversity”, affirmed Sandrine Thomas, president of the association of Women of the sea in France.
Yes, more marine protected areas, but with artisanal fishermen who will be able to carry out their activity.
Sandrine Thomas, president of the Women of the Sea association in France
“The future I want for my children is not for the coastline to be covered with tourist or seaside resorts, to eat farmed salmon and for 120-metre ships to continue to exploit the seabed. I prefer to imagine that we are able to keep all these communities, these places where all life depends on fishing,” she added.