The council’s establishment marks the beginning of a new era of representation for one-by-one fisheries which catch tuna with pole-and-line and handline fishing methods in these regions.
Small-scale tuna fishers in Europe’s outermost regions now have an opportunity to advise EU decision makers, following the establishment of the Outermost Regions Advisory Council (CC RUP or ORAC), which will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to improve the visibility and recognition of the important role that small-scale fisheries play in supporting sustainable livelihoods.
As an international entity, this council will recommend measures for the responsible management of fishery resources in the outermost regions of the EU. These regions include islands, archipelagos and land territories in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean basin and the Indian Ocean.
The FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) call on countries to ensure active, free, effective, meaningful and informed consultation and participation in the whole decision-making process related to fishery resources and areas where small-scale fisheries operate. The council’s establishment marks the beginning of a new era of representation for one-by-one fisheries which catch tuna with pole-and-line and handline fishing methods in these regions, in line with the SSF Guidelines.
The CC RUP is the eleventh stakeholder-led fisheries advisory council (AC) to be established by the EU. Plans to establish the CC RUP started in 2013 as part of efforts to implement the framework of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, and CC RUP was legally approved in 2019.
Fishers in the EU’s outermost regions now have representation in the CC RUP’s four working groups and decision-making structures. Small-scale fishers from Azores and Madeira (Portugal), the Canary Islands (Spain), French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion and Saint-Martin (France) are among those who will benefit directly.
The International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF), an international charity that supports responsible one-by-one tuna fisheries and the communities, businesses and seas connected to them, is one of the founding members of the now functional advisory council.
Yaiza Dronkers Londoño, the Atlantic Region Manager of the IPNLF, describes the establishment of the CC RUP as “an important step forward”. “One-by-one tuna fishers will now have more direct influence in the EU, through their representation in the CC RUP, which is fantastic news,” she says. “It gives our IPNLF members a chance to have a bigger and more powerful voice in decision-making and in influencing EU fishing policies. We are very excited to help amplify their voices.”
The EU’s outermost regions are home to thousands of one-by-one tuna fishers. For instance, Madeira, the Azores and the Canary Islands are well known for their one-by-one tuna fisheries in which age-old and low-impact fishing methods are used. Unfortunately, these artisanal fisheries compete against highly industrialised fleets for access to tuna resources and market share. Robust improvements are urgently needed that will safeguard and enhance small-scale fisheries, fish workers and associated sectors opportunities in accordance with the internationally agreed SSF Guidelines and to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 14.b – Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.
Small-scale fishers often have limited visibility and recognition in the market. An important reason for this is that they do not have the same lobbying capacity as their industrial competitors when it comes to attending and influencing the many international meetings on tuna fisheries management.
“Industrialised fleets drive overfishing of many tuna stocks. They often benefit from global fisheries certification schemes and subsidies at the expense of small-scale fishers and their livelihoods. Overfishing and harmful fishing methods also come at considerable ecological costs, adding pressure to fragile marine ecosystems. Unfortunately, when strict quotas are forced onto one-by-one tuna fisheries who are recognised for their low environmental impact and socioeconomic importance, their survival is on the line”, points out Yaiza Dronkers Londoño.
CC RUP’s goals include providing decision-makers with advice on practical conservation measures, the socioeconomic implications of fisheries management decisions, and on how to simplify the EU’s fishing rules. This advisory council will also advise the EU Commission on issues relating to fishing rights, subsidies and data collection from fisheries in the outermost regions.
The council’s work has already started and its key leadership positions have been filled.
David Pavón González, a one-by-one tuna fisher from El Hierro in the Canary Islands, has been elected as the chairperson of CC RUP Executive Committee. Pavón González leads the Federación Regional de Cofradías de Pescadores de Canarias and the Sociedad Cooperativa del Mar Pesca Restinga. Pavón González says the advisory council is well-positioned to help convey the unique realities of one-by-one fishers and their communities to EU decision-makers. “The fishers of the outermost regions have many unique needs. CC RUP will help to ensure decision-makers consider this and adapt to our reality,” he says.
Gualberto Costa Rita (Federação das Pescas dos Açores) and Charif Abdallah (Chambre d’Agriculture de la Pêche et de l’Aquaculture de Mayotte) have been elected as the vice-chairpersons of the advisory council’s executive committee. Rita, a pole-and-line vessel owner from the Azores, is the president of the Federação das Pescas dos Açores, which represents small-scale fishers from the islands of the Azores. He is also the chairperson of CC RUP’s Pelagic Working Group.
On his role, Rita explains “It is a great responsibility and honor for me, professional and personal, to be the representative of the defence of tuna fishing in various outermost regions. Tuna fishing in the ORs has a significant social and economic impact, which creates and secures jobs, contributing to the cohesion of coastal communities. The activity is part of the history of many fishermen, being for many of them their only means of subsistence.”
IPNLF is represented by Yaiza Dronkers Londoño, who was elected as the vice-chairperson of the abovementioned working group.