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GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

The 1st International Artisanal Fishing Development Day

11/07/2011 - 11/07/2011

The first International Artisanal Fishing Development Day was held in Santiago de Compostela on Monday, July 11th. The historic city of Santiago lies in the beautiful Galician Region of Spain and was a fitting location for the conference as the region has a long history of fishing representation, with fishing organizations known to be established there since the 13th century.

Representatives from governments, fishing organizations, certification bodies, NGOs and others involved in the small-scale, artisanal sector, gathered to discuss and share knowledge on the challenges the sector is experiencing and the best way forward. Organized by the Galician government, the main aim of the conference was to give a global vision of current marketing techniques of artisanal products and to exchange experiences, successes and lessons learned through these promotional strategies. Though primarily EU focused with a strong representation of governments from Portugal, Spain, France and the Galicia, Brittany and Basque regions, speakers and subsequent discussion noted the shared challenges of small-scale artisanal fishers across the world.

The day was full – eleven experts in the small-scale sector presented on various topics and two round table discussions allowed for questions and feedback from attendees.

Dr. Audun Lem, Senior Fishery Industry Officer at FAO, began the day with a presentation on The Future and Solvency of Artisanal Fishing as an Economic Activity, giving a thorough background on the importance of the small-scale sector to global trade markets, communities and the environment. He also profiled a number of innovative strategies that the small-scale sector is using to build capacity and differentiate their product in the market place. 

Other highlights included Dr. Jose Manuel Fernandez Polanco from Santander University, who spoke on quality as a mechanism of differentiation. With between 60-70% of the fish in the EU being imported, he noted the importance of differentiating EU-caught fish through quality. However, he called for the audience to examine the various kinds of quality and to not only think of quality from a cultural and taste perspective. He emphasized functionality as a vital part of quality that needs to be taken into account in order to work with the time-demands that consumers face today. To focus on this aspect of quality, he urged fishers not to reject processing their products.

Dr. Gunnar Knapp from The University of Alaska presented the story of the Alaskan salmon and its sharp decline in the global market place since farmed salmon has been introduced. Many fishers initially responded ineffectively by criticizing farmed fish. Instead, Dr. Knapp noted, salmon fishers needed to examine how to improve their product quality that was being out done by attractive, filleted, farmed salmon. By focusing on improving and widening their product line and through a strong "Tide to Table" marketing campaign, Alaskan salmon is now a brand that produces numerous highly-demanded products and the industry has largely recovered. 

Roy Palmer from Australia began his presentation on an optimistic note, stating that seafood is the most environmentally sustainable protein food on the planet and is the highest traded food commodity. He stated that fishers now need to focus on improving their business in areas where their comparative advantage lies, while also considering new market opportunities and business models, such as the community supported fishery model. 

Other speakers presented on high-quality label brands that have been established for artisanal fish products, price setting, internet sales and the impact of eco-labeling to the small-scale sector.

By Anna Child

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