3WSFC – Reflections from students and early career scientists

Como estudiante, participar en el congreso fue muy satisfactorio, ya que tuve la oportunidad de presentar los resultados de mi investigación y obtener retroalimentación y críticas constructivas por parte de los asistentes, estas observaciones, sin duda enriquecerán mi trabajo de tesis. Además, los vínculos de trabajo, futuras colaboraciones y nuevas lazos de amistad forjados durante el evento,  representa un aporte  invaluable para mi crecimiento profesional y personal.

Eva Coronado, TBTI PhD Student

Cinvestav, Mexico

Eva Coronado, CINVESTAV, Mexico

Durante el 3er congreso mundial de pesquerías de pequeña escala (3WSFC) más de 350 participantes, incluidos pescadores, profesores, estudiantes, representantes de ONG´s y de gobierno de 56 países, compartimos y conocimos los resultados de innovadoras investigaciones relacionadas con aspectos biológicos, socio-económicos, de comercialización, genero, implementación de nuevas tecnologías, manejo de datos, entre muchos otros temas.

Como estudiante, participar en el congreso fue muy satisfactorio, ya que tuve la oportunidad de presentar los resultados de mi investigación y obtener retroalimentación y críticas constructivas por parte de los asistentes, estas observaciones, sin duda enriquecerán mi trabajo de tesis. Además, los vínculos de trabajo, futuras colaboraciones y nuevas lazos de amistad forjados durante el evento,  representa un aporte  invaluable para mi crecimiento profesional y personal.

Desde mi punto de vista una de las partes más atractivas fue la activa participación de líderes de organizaciones pesqueras durante los cinco días del congreso. Las opiniones expresadas por estos actores reflejan la necesidad de un manejo incluyente y participativo, en donde el conocimiento tradicional y las experiencias adquiridas en el mar deben ser considerados en la formulación de políticas públicas.

Como joven investigador, considero que entre los retos globales que requieren acciones inmediatas destaca la necesidad de comunicación y dialogo entre todos los actores involucrados y la necesidad de realizar investigaciones bajo un lente transdisciplinario, que permita ampliar el conocimiento e información disponible sobre pesquerías de pequeña escala y que conlleven a  medidas de manejo informadas, efectivas y sustentables.

En general, durante las plenarias y sesiones desarrolladas en el evento, se enfatizó que para lograr la sustentabilidad de las pesquerías de pequeña escala, es fundamental el trabajo en equipo, solidario e integral. También se resaltó que proyectos e investigaciones alineados con las directrices voluntarias para lograr la sostenibilidad de la pesca en pequeña escala (SSF  Guidelines), facilitara alcanzar las metas y objetivos de desarrollo sustentable planteados  a corto plazo, especialmente en miras hacia el año 2022, el cual ya fue declarado por la ONU como el año internacional de las pesquerías y acuacultura artesanales y además fecha en la que se realizará el 4WSFC.

Dr. Mbachi Ruth Msomphora, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

The 3rd WSFC 2018 is one of my best Conference attended so far. I gained a lot of knowledge from the Congress about transdisciplinary research approach in small-scale fisheries, especially when it comes to participation in an interactive way; besides enabling me making some research network, which is important for me as an early career researcher. The Congress was full of activities, including practical stories from the fishers/stakeholders themselves. Such a variety of activities made it impossible for one not to find a niche that suits best the future research ambitions as required. Besides, I liked the idea that the Congress had many early/young researchers as keynote-speakers, especially with the aim for dealing with the future of the world's small-scale fisheries. Having said that, the best part of the Congress for me was Session 15, Building capacity for the community people and SSF communities with the goal of achieving sustainable Food and Nutrition for the livelihood of the poor in Cambodia.

It was interesting for me to see how they make/facilitate the people in the communities to come up with their own ideas on how food and nutrition can be secured based on the local materials available. For instance, in capacity building and active stakeholder participation in the governance system, they use a tool, which one of the presenters in the Session, Miratori Kim, calls "Community Vision Tool", and this tool in Malawi, according to Daniel Jamu, is called “Organisation/Community Performance Assessment Tool”. The too is use to help the community to generate the ideas and how they can deal with such ideas step by step in order to realised them.

It was fascinating for me to see/hear that the local community-people themselves, are able to come up with the plan, even on how to raise the money; while the authorise just facilitate them. It was impressive that the communities are able to include in their plans on how to monitor, and raise awareness of the planned activities.

One way to promote fish consumption was that they show the community and explain how, for instance, fish in a meal can enhances the low bioavailability of the other food; e.g., fish in a meal can increase rice bioavailability nutrients by 15 to 20%. As argued by one of the presenters in the Session, Shakuntala Thilsted, I totally agree with her that if we are to secure nutrition and diverse, safe and affordable diet for all, global and national investments must focus on policies, strategies and research that can increase the access to, as well as intake of micronutrients-rich fish species. Dried small fish is super nutritious for all year round and affordable storage method, also for the poor.

It was also interesting to see how local SSF communities per say, could be improved through the project of food security, nutrition and hygiene as a whole. Improvement of hygiene and consumption of high nutritious balanced food, including use of clean domestic/drinking water is of focus. They also focus on how women’s jobs can be effectively allocated so that mothers could have more time to pay attention on what the children are eating. For instance, they encourage them to use water from the canals of rice fields for use in watering vegetables at home gardens, such that they do not need to travel long distances to fetch for water and vegetables, hence enabling them to use the time, instead, for other home chores.

Although the presenters did not directly mention about TD approach, I think they already are practicing TD. For instance, different knowledge beyond the traditional Multidisciplinary (e.g. Agriculture, Fisheries, Public Health, Home Economics and Nutrition, but also traditional/community knowledge and authorities/policy-makers) approach is involved. Something we could all learn from, and expand it from there. I think this could be very useful in one of the research-projects we intend to conduct in Malawi on Food Security and Nutrition for all.

Evan Andrews, University of Waterloo, Canada

During the 3WSFC, a challenge that resonated personally was the need to strengthen the collective voice for small-scale fisheries while respecting their diversity. The global problem of weakened voice – access, standing and influence – for small-scale fisheries in the decisions that affect them is experienced differently within and across fisheries. This was indicated by several presenters including Svein Jentoft, who asked, “Why are some small-scale fisheries doing better than others?”. Hence, the Congress themes – transdiscplinarity and transformation – felt like two imperatives to strengthen voice in ways that build on what small-scale fisheries have in common (i.e., the essence of TBTI) and clarify what they do not (i.e., a challenge for implementing the SSF Guidelines). This provided me with a crucial piece in the problem orientation for my doctoral research, “Human Behaviour and its Implications for the Governability of Small-Scale Fisheries”.

Beyond my doctoral work, the Congress helped to strengthen my own voice. I gained access to a diverse group of people, ideas and research. With encouragement from others, I stepped out of my bubble, reached out, and became more critical about what was said and unsaid. For example, I was lucky to present the debrief from the Science Day in front of the entire Congress. These precious five minutes resulted from the generous coaching by Alida Bundy who taught me how to better synthesize, integrate, and communicate a range of observations succinctly and effectively. From the Silver Fins and Dories story-telling session, I observed that standing in the discourse of small-scale fisheries is earned and learned through a lifelong commitment to preparation, thought and practice. I took a big step towards my commitment during the “Pesca-Kucha” session when I argued that the weak governability of change is one of the most pressing challenges for the sustainability of small-scale fisheries. I am not sure my ideas had any influence, yet. But, I received master-class on influence from Moenieba Isaacs who flipped a narrative from ‘Blue Economy’ to ‘Blue Justice’ artfully and thoughtfully to encourage us to think about race, class and gender. I hope my voice is strong like that one day.

Wilson Mhlanga, University of Western Cape, South Africa

I was impressed by the diversity at the Congress, both in terms of geographical coverage as well as stakeholder coverage. In terms of geographical coverage, delegates came from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and Oceania. In terms of stakeholders, delegates included Policy makers, fishers (fishermen and fisherwomen), academics, government officers, civil society organisations (CSOs), and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Speakers in the different sessions covered topics that are important in Small Scale Fisheries.

The presentations covered experiences from different parts of the world and this helped me to gain an insight into the characteristics of different types of Small Scale Fisheries at a global scale, as well as the challenges and opportunities facing these fisheries. From the presentations, I noted that in many parts of the world, there are several issues in Small Scale Fisheries that are similar, irrespective of geographical location.

Through both the presentations and the sharing of experiences, particularly in the discussions, the congress enabled delegates to identify important lessons that will help in addressing some of the challenges faced in Small Scale Fisheries.

Through the interactions I had at the Congress, I was able to build a good network of individuals who are involved in Small Scale Fisheries. These contacts will be useful in my research work as a student. These contacts included both students as well as seasoned researchers/scholars. In addition, I was able to make an oral presentation at the Congress and this helped me to improve my presentation skills as well as get useful feedback on my current research.