Representatives from the European Commision, France, Portugal, and Spain gathered in the beautiful mid-Atlantic archipelago, the Azores, to celebrate the first in-person meeting of the Outermost Regions Advisory Council (CCRUP) in the last week of September 2021. CCRUP is a recently formed regional EU stakeholder-led organisation that provides the European Commission and relevant EU countries with recommendations on fisheries management matters. More than 60 organizations from France, Portugal and Spain are currently part of the Advisory Council (AC).
CCRUP stakeholders are determined to address, among others, urgent concerns regarding the sustainable and equitable management of tuna resources in both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, which are the responsibility of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), respectively. The European outermost regions, consisting of Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion, Martinique, Mayotte and Saint Martin (France), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal), and the Canary Islands (Spain), are characterized by their remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography, and economic dependence on a limited number of agricultural and natural resources, such as tuna. Tuna fisheries in these regions are predominantly coastal and traditional in nature and selective one-by-one tuna fisheries play a crucial socio-economic role, especially in the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. Unfortunately, these fisheries face threats which risk the loss of these communities’ livelihoods because of
1) the negative impacts industrial fleets are having on the health of highly migratory tuna populations,
2) the lack of fair allocations when competing with industrial fleets for limited fishing possibilities, and
3) unfair market competition in global tuna markets.
The CCRUP has voiced an urgent call for equity; to help ensure that vulnerable, smaller scale fisheries that use selective fishing gears are given preferential access to fishing and market opportunities. These fisheries are recognized globally for their low environmental impact and social benefits, yet they are struggling to compete with long distance industrial fleets for access to both tuna resources and markets. Recommendations by the CCRUP have already focused on the need to improve the management of drifting fish aggregating devices (FADs) that have allowed for an effort creep of industrial purse seiners and the need for an equitable allocation of bigeye tuna fishing opportunities – both are key to help ensure a responsible management of tuna fisheries. The legitimacy of these concerns are well-reflected in various international agreements and instruments, such as the UN Sustainable Development goals – specifically target 14.b (provide access of small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets) and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines). The FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries which provides a set of guidelines for the management and development of fisheries, whilst achieving conservation objectives specifically also emphasises the need to promote “the contribution of fisheries to food security and food quality, giving priority to the nutritional needs of local communities”.
To help communicate the beauty and reality of this unique fisheries sector to decision-makers in Brussels and across the globe, the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) worked with the award-winning Portuguese photographer and documentary maker Pepe Brix and Rui Pedro Lamy to develop the video series ‘Tuna Tales’. The first four episodes of this series tell the story of tuna fishers and associated sectors in the Azores, Canary Islands, and Cabo Verde, collectively known as ‘Macaronesia’ and encompassing both European and African territories. Episode 1 and 2 focus on the Azores, zooming in on the socio-economic importance of the sector to the region (EP1 “On Land”) and the issues that are threatening the sustainability of these fisheries (EP2 “Our Ocean”). These first two episodes, together with the global uniter film, were premiered at the CCRUP meeting on Terceira Island, Azores, which was attended by a high level audience, including the Secretary of State for Fisheries of Portugal, Teresa Coelho, the Secretary General of Fisheries of Spain, Alicia Villauriz Iglesias (online), the Director General of DG MARE of the European Commission, Charlina Vitcheva, and the Executive Director of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), Susan Steele.
The initial responses to the videos have been incredibly supportive as this type of direct portrayal of what’s happening ‘on the ground’ in these regions has not often been presented in such a visual manner so the series offers a unique opportunity to tell stories that are not widely heard.
“I grew up surrounded by fishers and Tuna Tales gave me the opportunity to, somehow, be part of a change that I know has to come. I dove deep into the problems around the fishing industry and listened to the voices of those who feel it directly. When listening to their stories, you are left with no doubt that fishing is crucial for their survival. For example, in Cape Verde they need to take more and more risks as they are forced to go far out at sea to catch half of what they used to catch close to the shore. Tuna Tales has been more than a photographic or videographic project, it has been a very strong introspective journey for Lamy and I, and we keep, printed on our hearts, each word spoken from these men and women.”
– Pepe Brix, Tuna Tales Videographer
The first two episodes are now available online and can be watched here:
Tuna Tales Episode 1 | Azores, On Land
Tuna Tales Episode 2 | Azores, Our Ocean