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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

The Northeast region of Brazil has the highest number of coastal and estuarine fishers, both men and women. During the last 10 years, unfortunately with minors improvement, efforts had been directed to build institutional and community capacity for improving the livelihoods and well-being of women and families that depend on clam and oyster extraction. Fisherwomen bravely fish for clam and shellfish extraction in Pernambuco State’s bravery estuaries, located in the Northeast Region of Brazil. Wooden rowboats are used mainly for transportation to and from clam fishery areas. Children usually help their mothers by starting to fish from childhood. Bravely fishing seems to be a synonymous, at least an analogy, for many small-scale fishers worldwide. Whether, or not, the only option for a living, and livelihood, a decision to fish requires a heart choice, in a daily struggle for life.

Improved knowledge about these fisheries is strategically important for institutions to recognize and support the socioeconomic, employment, and ecological contributions of SSF, particularly in isolated fishing communities, through developing three interdependent fronts of action: 1) participatory fisheries management; 2) socio-educational initiatives focusing on gender mainstreaming and promoting empowerment of women in fisheries occupations; and 3) value chain upgrading and democratization focusing on the decent work agenda; and proposing sustainable use of estuarine and coastal fisheries resources; improvement at institutional levels in monitoring and control mechanisms of the value chain; improved educational status and professional training of fishers and fishworkers; increased capacity building for the development of technologies and innovations in the full spectrum of the SSF value chain; and implementation of decent work policies in the north-eastern Brazil small-scale fishing, especially among women engaged in estuarine clam and shellfish fisheries.

Recognition of the unequal power relationships between value chain stakeholders and that vulnerable and marginalized groups may require special support to enhance their participation in decision making processes are also key elements of an approach to clam and shellfish fishery development, in line with FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines for SSF in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication. Legitimate, democratic and representative structures, access to market opportunities and increased transparency and information-sharing in the SSF value chain are pivotal expected outcomes of this implementation strategy. The strategy also promotes socio-economic-cultural assessment of small-scale fishworkers; fostering dialogue and communication at all institutional levels; and enhancing qualification and managerial skills of technicians closely related with small-scale fishing communities.

As a former Fishery Agent from the Brazilian Government, I directly engaged for the implementation of an established fishery policy in Brazil aimed at Professional Qualification and Social Valorization since it is through the education and qualification of artisanal fishing peoples -  men, women, children, and workers in general - that we can move towards the elimination of historical inequalities related to the reality of these fishing people and the entire context that surrounds it. One step further was precisely to carry out systematic socio-educational activities on the fishing world for fishers’ sons and daughters, recognizing the importance of strengthening historical culture and, also, minimizing the participation of these children in daily fishing.

Sergio Mattos

Fishery Engineer
Tropical Ichthyology Marine Group - IMAT