‘Food from the Sea’: Promoting small-scale fisheries sustainability in the Mediterranean

As part of the 2018 European Maritime Days, the event ‘Food from the Sea: is-Sajda u t-Tisjira' was held in Malta on 22nd June 2018. The objective behind the event was to celebrate and promote sustainable small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean. The event was co-organized by the Malta Centre for Arts Science and Technology (MCAST-CAAAS)the Mediterranean Culinary Academy (MCA), and the Too Big To Ignore - Global Partnership for Small-Scale Fisheries Research (TBTI).

Speakers discussed the importance of supporting local fish caught by Maltese fishers 

The focus of this event was to engage the public in an exciting celebration of small-scale fisheries through an evening full of activities, including cooking demonstrations on how to fillet and cook local fish (e.g. mackerel, skate, bogues), and successively tasting the local fish dishes freshly-prepared by the MCA. Attendees were also able to buy the fresh catch-of-the-day, sold by the fishers’ wives, and enjoy a display of fishing gear, and photos of different fishing ventures. The event hosted an interesting list of speakers including Ratana Chuenpagdee (TBTI), Marta Cavalle (LIFE), Alicia Said (TBTI), Malcolm Borg (MCAST), and Marija Bekendam (AKTEA), Suzanna Piscopo (Nutritionist-UOM) and Karmenu Cassar (local fisher). A video message from EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella was also broadcasted during the event.

By bringing together Maltese families for this important celebration of small-scale fisheries, the invited speakers discussed the importance of supporting local fresh fish caught by Maltese fishers. This event is both an important milestone that echoes the regional efforts of the MedFish4ever campaign to save the Mediterranean stocks and protect the regions’ socio-economic wealth, as well as an opportunity to showcase how small-scale fisheries should be integrated within the EU Blue Growth strategy.

Launching of the Malta Small-Scale Fisheries Network 

One of the highlights of the event was the launch of the very first Malta Small-Scale Fisheries Network (MSFN) that is established with the aim of discussing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the Maltese small-scale fishing sector, and to seek possible strategies for the development of small-scale fisheries within the framework of the blue economy. Given their low-impact nature, small-scale fisheries are very much compatible with the principles of blue growth, and realizing their potential through innovative and transformative projects within the marine sector should be a way forward.

In this regard, through the MSFN, fishers are coming together with other marine-related stakeholders to work towards identifying business opportunities and diversification strategies in the fishing sector. Additionally, MSFN is identifying applied research lines to further benefit the fishing sector, establishing networks with interested parties and applying for projects and funding opportunities to sustain the small-scale fishing sector. The MSFN has the support of the Low Impact Fishers of Europe, is a part of TBTI, and will be participating at the FAO High Level Conference on small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean and Black Sea that will take place on 25th and 26th September 2018.

Written by: Alicia Said, TBTI Postdoctoral fellow, Memorial University of Newfoundland.