The wealth of our nation’s oceans has been greatly undervalued. A report by World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that about 40% of fish catch worldwide is unintentionally caught and is partly thrown back into the sea, either dead or dying. This neglect has created the perfect breeding ground for lower fish stock and habitat destruction, which has led to limited growth and expansion of the fishing sector. Fisherfolk, as the primary users of the ocean, are now taking steps to change this narrative. Many now consider it their duty to uphold proper stewardship of the ocean and ensure that depletion of its resources ends.
This is the philosophy that has influenced the mission of the group Future Fishers: a non-profit organisation that works with fishing communities to boost the blue economy. Their goal is to promote the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources, while creating opportunities for growth, governance and social advancement through the fishing industry. The blue economy that Future Fishers advocates for is one of collective harmony between the ocean and individuals: providing for the ocean as she provides for us.
Their mission, to build sustainable livelihoods via the cottage fish processing industry, led to the development of the project “Smoke and Salted Fish on the East Coast of Trindad.” Here, bycatch is put to use as part of the sustainability model, adding value to where there was originally none. In this project, Future Fishers conducted an analysis of the value chain and production process used by small scale household producers of smoked and salted fish on the Trinidad east coast.
Through direct interaction with the producers, the project aimed to compile producer needs and wants and translates them into a practical way forward that will maximise the potential for sustainable livelihoods. This project was funded by the Caribbean Sea Innovation Fund (CarSIF), a partnership between the European Union Delegation and the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI).
Future Fishers has also recently launched their Green Fund-approved project, “Capacity Building of Fishers Initiative for Sustainable Harvest, Education and Research.” According to Future Fishers, the overall goal of this project is to “rebuild and sustain” marine ecosystems and improve species populations at high levels of economic and biological productivity and biological diversity, so as not to jeopardise goods and services from marine ecosystems, while providing food, revenue, and recreation for the current and future generations.”
The project will be carried out in seven communities: Matelot, Grand Riviere, Sans Souci, Toco, Cumana, Balandra, and Salibay.