When, not a long time ago, I met representatives of small-scale fishermen, the president of Glaros (seagull, in Greek), the association of small-scale fishermen form the island of Fournoi, handed me a picture of what once was a significant small-scale fleet based on the island. The fleet was then scrapped –he affirms– following the adoption of the latest reform of the EU common fisheries policy, in the Nineties.
I believe that small-scale fishermen greatly contribute to the economic progress and the preservation of distinctive social and cultural characteristics of European coastal communities.
The new reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy shall provide the framework to safeguard their role and reward those who value sustainability, like the 160 organisations that signed a declaration asking for the Reform to favor small-scale fisheries.
For that, the proposal for the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, due for tomorrow, will help small-scale fisheries to become more profitable and more viable. We have to turn from building bigger and bigger vessels to the care of our fisheries communities. The new funding will aim to reverse the decline of many coastal areas and island communities which are dependent on fishing. It will add more value to fishing related activities and will promote the diversification of local communities to other sectors of the maritime economy, such as: Preserving and processing the fish maritime tourism, cleaning of the sea, aquaculture.
Also their families, spouses and life partners will have the opportunity to get funding, if they want to set up their own business like doing the book-keeping of the fishermen’s business or buying a minivan to supply local restaurants with fresh fish. Marketing initiatives will be backed, as well as training and professional qualifications.
Small-scale fishermen organizations will need to be thoroughly involved in the Regional Advisory Councils, which under a reformed Common Fisheries Policy will have the power to take important decisions.
Small-scale fisheries are at the core of the reform and we need to maintain an open dialogue and identify together the best solutions to the problems we face today.