The new report, Global Ocean Grab, was published by the Transnational Institute, Masifundise and Afrika Kontakt together with WFFP (the World Forum of Fisher People). It tells the hidden story of fisheries and fishers. A complex story of sustainability, food, development models, culture and politics, where community rights are systematically violated right under our noses... sometimes in the name of sustainability itself.
The term ‘ocean grabbing' aims to cast new light on important processes that are negatively affecting the people and communities whose way of life and cultural identity depend on small-scale fishing and related activities.
Small-scale fishers and fishing communities in both the Global South and the Global North are increasingly threatened by powerful forces that are dramatically reshaping existing access rights regimes and production models in fisheries. This process is leading not only to the dwindling of control by small-scale fishers over these resources, but also in many cases to their ecological destruction and very disappearance.
In Honduras, for example, since the 1970s, 70,000 hectares equivalent to half of Gulf of Fonseca's mangrove forests have gone from community ownership to private concessions. North and South American or European corporations have taken native populations' rights to access resources away, mainly for tourism and aquaculture purposes.
In South Africa, even though the South African movement of small-scale fisher people hoped the end of Apartheid would also give them back their rights to the sea, to protect their culture and traditions, in 2007 the government released a new fishing policy which took away the fishing rights of 90% of the country's 50,000 small-scale fisher people, who became illegal poached overnight.
Ecuador, the fifth largest producer of shrimp worldwide, lost 70% of it's fragile wetlands, displacing people who sustained their livelihoods from the mangroves before the industry grabbed the coastal lands. Entire communities were evicted and desperate fishermen are now fighting the shrimp farmers in order to reclaim their lands and protect the mangrove forests.
Representatives from theses communities will be present at Terra Madre 2014, and will share the successes and failures of their strategies to combat the phenomenon.
Ocean grabbing is not only about fisheries policy. It is unfolding worldwide across an array of contexts including marine and coastal seawaters, inland waters, rivers and lakes, deltas and wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs.
The means by which fishing communities are dispossessed of the resources upon which they have traditionally depended is likewise taking many shapes and forms. It occurs through mechanisms as diverse as (inter)national fisheries governance and trade and investment policies, designated terrestrial, coastal and marine ‘no-take' conservation areas, (eco)tourism and energy policies, finance speculation, and the expanding operations of the global food and fish industry, including large-scale aquaculture, among others.
Meanwhile, ocean grabbing is entering a dramatically new and heightened phase with the emergence in 2012 of the Global Partnership for Oceans, a World Bank-led initiative seeking the privatisation of property rights regimes to aquatic resources and top-down market-based conservation blueprints.
Read the full report here: