Communities with voice: The future of artisanal fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean

Comunidades con voz
El futuro de la pesca artesanal en Latinoamérica y el Caribe

Communities with voice
The future of artisanal fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean

Edited by Lina M. Saavedra-Díaz & Maria Claudia Díazgranados

RESUMEN: Este libro nace del cansancio en investigadores que escuchan una y otra vez, realidades negativas asociadas a la pesca artesanal, quienes buscan aferrarse a la otra cara de la moneda: un sector que se niega a seguir en crisis y que está inundado de voces llenas de esperanza. Los invitamos a que se sumerjan en 14 historias de empoderamiento comunitario, distribuidos en 7 países de Latinoamérica y el Caribe (LAC) asociados tanto a ecosistemas marinos como continentales. Es una muestra de todos los esfuerzos positivos que las comunidades están liderando localmente y que buscan ser compartidos y escuchados. Cada caso de estudio ha sido analizado bajo la comprensión de los principios de cogestión de los recursos naturales en Sistemas Socioecológicos de Ostrom (1990). Conocerás casos que han nacido a partir de dificultades, y que con el tiempo se han ido transformando en oportunidades porque han sido enfrentadas desde visiones comunes y pensadas a largo plazo. Generando como resultado de todos estos procesos, comunidades con transformación y cohesión social, con mejoramiento del capital natural, y claros avances hacia la gobernanza y la sustentabilidad del sector pesquero en cada una de sus regiones.

SUMMARY: Despite the multidimensional relevance of artisanal and subsistence fisheries in the context of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the States of this region have historically failed in their sustainable management. At the same time, in recent decades there has been a worldwide tendency to manage the fishing sector through adaptive co-management. Based on the understanding of the complexity of Socio-Ecological Systems (SSE) and the application of the eight principles postulated by Ostrom (1990), this volume aims to provide solutions to the crisis faced by fishing resources and their users. Fourteen positive experiences of local empowerment in communities of coastal and inland marine artisanal fishers across seven LAC countries are showcased, making it possible to demonstrate fisheries management processes as a product of intrinsic decision-making and collective efforts (originating from within the community) or in alliance with external actors, for the purposes of conservation and sustainable management of fishing resources. This volume seeks to convey a message of hope for the sector, by sharing adaptive learning processes in which the voices of the communities have contributed to strengthening the governance of these countries.

From the editor: This book was born within the framework of the Third World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress (3WSFC) held in Thailand in 2018, as part of the reflections obtained at the discussion group for the LAC region, where mainly negative aspects associated with small-scale fishing activities were highlighted. For this reason, the participants from the University of Magdalena (Colombia), who attended at the 3WSFC, were motivated to propose to the working group the need to bring forth a different face of small-scale fisheries – the one from a positive viewpoint. This book is a proof of how the LAC region is rich in collective efforts that are contributing locally to the sustainable management, emerging as a solution to natural resources crises. The editors hope to illustrate to the readers the instances of communities that have faced difficulties but have transformed these into opportunities for social cohesion and local empowerment, improvement of natural capital, and successful fisheries management. 

The need for better connection between science, policy and community has encouraged us to be more creative about how we disseminate our work. Working in small-scale fisheries makes this task easy because of the rich stories and the lived experiences that can be portrayed and that can convey, not only the meaning and values of small-scale fisheries, but also why they matter for fisheries and ocean sustainability. We have a gem in this book that does an excellent job of elevating the profile of small-scale fisheries in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, reminding us why they are too important to fail.

Ratana Chuenpagdee
TBTI Global


Lina M. Saavedra-Díaz is a Professor and a Scientist at the Universidad del Magdalena in Colombia. She is also the director of the Research Group on Socioecological Systems for Human Well-being (GISSBH). Through her research, she has validated the traditional and ecological knowledge of fishers as a fundamental accompaniment to scientific knowledge for decision-making, within the framework of an adaptive process of fisheries governance in Colombia. She established a channel of communication between the Academia, the National Fisheries Administration, and the local communities in order to develop fisheries management measures that point towards a national-level management policy from a bottom-up (decentralized) perspective. Together with her team, she has recently been focusing on making fishing conflicts visible from a perspective of environmental and social justice.