New Era of Support for Small-Scale Fisheries

By Daniela Bernot Simon, TBTI Global Research Assistant

After several years of online celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TBTI Global finally celebrated the World Fisheries Day in person again! This year’s event was centered around the theme of the New Era of Support for Small-Scale Fisheries, drawing attention to the numerous contributions of small-scale fisheries, while also outlining ways to strengthen and enhance the sector’s viability. The theme builds on the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022), celebrated worldwide last year. The event, organized by TBTI Global in partnership with Ocean Frontier Institute Module I and Moving Together for Marine Conservation, took place on November 21st at Memorial University St’ John’s campus.

The event included interactive information booths, seafood display and sampling, complete with a series of talks. As in previous years, it brought together individuals and organizations that work towards creating progressive and sustainable practices for our ocean, fisheries, and coastal communities.

Besides showcasing the fisheries-related research and education initiatives, the goal was to highlight the notion of ‘Think Locally – Think Small-Scale Fisheries’, by showcasing the ways in which small-scale fisheries contribute to livelihoods, food security, sense of community, and viable communities. A special perk this year was the participation of international guests from Mexico, Bangladesh, Japan, Spain, and Ecuador, as well as from other parts of Canada.

Music being played by two talented musicians, Jasper and Kieran Edinger

Ratana Chuenpagdee, a professor at Memorial University & TBTI Director, hosted the event

One of the evening’s highlights was a game developed by the students from the Geography 4300/6300 class called ‘Jawpardy. The game consisted of selecting questions about the Newfoundland and Labrador small-scale fisheries across categories such as fishy riddles, true or fish, mackerel choice, and fishellaneous. Students also presented ‘Not Far from the Dock: A Newfoundland cookbook featuring dishes created with locally sourced fish’. The e-book is still being updated so if you are interested in providing a recipe, complete this form and become a contributor!

To find out more about the great work done by the students and what inspired them, check out the short report they put together.

Some of the students who created ‘Jawpardy’

Students who wrote and presented ‘Not Far from the Dock: A Newfoundland cookbook featuring dishes created with locally sourced fish’ recipe e-book

The event also hosted a long-time TBTI partner Fishing for Success, a non-profit organization based in Petty Harbor whose brilliant displays at the TBTI World Fisheries Day’s events always attract a lot of attention. Fishing for Success works with younger generations, bringing fishing into communities through youth engagement. “We wanted to get rid of barriers to get kids involved in fisheries and connect them to the ocean and nature. After the experience, you can see their faces light up!” Their booth showed many pictures of extremely happy kids and youth fishing, cleaning, and preparing the cod, for many of whom this was their first time being out on the water.

The members of Fishing for Success talking about their project to the event’s guests

A beautiful, netted rope by Kimberly Orren, co-founder of Fishing for Success

Roots and Wings, a local company focused on promoting and marketing the traditional dried fish of Newfoundland was also featured at the event. Their salted cod is directly linked to the small-scale suppliers who catch and process the fish, using their own lifelong techniques. The company was co-founded by Lillian Saul, a fisherwoman from Twillingate, who developed a project on the cultural and economic importance of saltfish after finishing up her master’s degree with Dr. Chuenpagdee.

Everyone had a chance to buy some deliciously packed dry cod fish offered by Lillian Saul, co-founder of Roots and Wings

I feel so tied to this province and the fisheries here and did not expect this; this province is really special.” [Lilian Saul]

The event continued with Chris Chaisson, executive chef of Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge, doing an amazing cooking demonstration of two types of fish cakes, using Roots and Wing’s delicious dry salted cod. One was prepared in the Newfoundland traditional style with potatoes, onions, savory, and cod topped with a tartare sauce, while the second type took inspiration from Spain. The audience had a chance to try the fishcakes and can attest they were incredibly delicious! 

Chef Chris Chaisson doing a fishcake cooking demonstration

After a couple of hours, the celebration turned to the talks from the international speakers. In a talk titled ‘You Have Been, and Always Shall Be, Beautiful’, Dr. Yinji Li, Tokai University/TBTI Japan, shared what she has done with TBTI Japan, which includes a program called Girls who fish – Japan 2020, inspired by the Newfoundland program that Fishing for Success runs. Girls are taken out at sea, to experience fishing. She also talked about the TBTI Japan e-book ‘In the Era of Big Change’, in which more than 50 authors participated.

Small-scale fisheries have been, and always shall be, beautiful. [Yinji Li]

Small-scale fisheries are small in scale but big in contributions. [Mohammad Mahmudul Islam]

Next came Dr. Mohammad Mahmudul Islam, Sylhet Agricultural University/TBTI Bangladesh, with a talk ‘Visualizing the Small: Opportunities and Challenges of Artisanal Fisheries in Bangladesh’. Mahmud shared his experience about small-scale fisheries in Bangladesh, illustrated by the TBTI Bangladesh e-book, in which 68 authors participated and all ecosystems in the country were considered.

Dr. María José Barragán-Paladines, Charles Darwin Foundation/TBTI Ecuador, was the next speaker talking about ‘The Different Shades of ‘Fish’: Integrating Perspectives to Address the Complexity of Small-Scale Fisheries in Galapagos Islands’. María José talked about the role of fish in food security and safety and mentioned that education and involving young generations is key for the future.

There are no recipes for working with small-scale fisheries. Where there might be a crisis for some; there may be opportunities for others. Unsolved conflicts can always lead to new initiatives.” [María José Barragán-Paladines]

“Small-scale fisheries are culture and a way of living… Small-scale fisheries in Mexico are complex and hard to manage, and communities can be highly vulnerable but fishers can adapt and transform through the right support. ” [Silvia Salas]

The last speaker was Dr. Silvia Salas from CINVESTAV – Merida/TBTI Mexico on ‘Mexican Small-Scale Fisheries – In Good Time and Tough Time’. Silvia shared the adaptation strategies by small-scale fisheries, mainly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like elsewhere in the world, small-scale fisheries in Mexico are complex and hard to manage, and fishers can be highly vulnerable unless they are able to adapt and transform, which is happening in the communities she’s been working with. It is refreshing to see how communities come together to form groups to tackle problems, and developing strategies, including “cutting the middleman” so that they can obtain the whole profit from their products.

The evening continued with the presentation of the e-book Thinking Big about Small-Scale Fisheries in Canada: Stories, Perspectives, and Research about Small-scale Fisheries in Canada, edited by Evan Andrews and Christine Knott. This book includes stories, perspectives, and research about small-scale fisheries across Canada, taking as a starting point that they are key solutions for a range of issues challenging the sector and the governance. Book authors joined the event, both in-person and virtually, reading excerpts from their chapters. The book is available for free download from the TBTI Global website.

The evening ended with the launch of TBTI Canada, as the 5th TBTI hub in the world, and the first in the Global North. This is a big step for small-scale fisheries in a country where this sector is not as well recognized as it should be. The celebration was commemorated with a chocolate cake decorated with a green cod fish, courtesy of Mary Londero, TBTI undergrad student. Needless to say, the cake tradition will continue with a launch of a new hub. Who’s up next?

Evan Andrews and Christine Knott introducing the e-book

Lilian Saul reading a passage from the chapter she wrote for the e-book 

Barry Darby, retired fishermen and teacher, and Helen Forsyer, writer and editor, sharing a snippet from their chapter

A chocolate cake decorated with a green cod fish for the celebration launch of TBTI Canada!