The small scale fisheries industry of the Ind-Pacific is a neglected sector despite its enormous production and the great number of persons involved. Over 25 million persons are supported by the artisanal fishermen who produce annually over 20 million tons of fish. The sector faces an increasingly difficult future as fuel costs escalate and fuel supplies diminish. The introduction of capital-intensive technology has tended to put thousands of fishermen out of work and to make the remaining ones ever more dependent on expensive imported machinery. Coupled to this problem is the resultant stagnation of village life and disintegration of rural society as young people leave to find work in the city and as the little money earned in the villages tends to be spent on industrially produced consumer goods of doubtful value.
There is no single or easy solution to a problem of this magnitude. But no far-seeing person can surely deny that a change is necessary if the small scale fisheries are to survive and to continue to provide employment for their fishermen and food for the people. A change is also urgently needed if we are to halt the misuse of natural resources, and the pollution and destruction of much of the environment. The human misery that would result is incalculable.
On the other hand, the prospect of a thriving small scale fishery, supporting thousands of invigorated villages and providing the basis for ever increasing employment opportunities for villagers and their children, must give great hope and encouragement. If those villages can all be self sufficient in energy and in raw materials, the total effect on their countries and on the region would be dramatic.
Such a prospect could become a reality. We now have the technology with which to start the transformation. What we lack is the will and the vision. We are too eager to close our eyes to the impending crises in energy, food, employment and pollution. The transition from a wasteful, destructive and socially irresponsible technology to one that is gentle, beneficial and sustainably productive, will not be made without some temporary inconvenience and sacrifice. But the longer we postpone the transition, the more difficult and more painful it will be for us and for our children.
ref. Journal of the New Alchemists No.2 1974 & Maximum Potential Building Systems, Reports,Austin,Texas