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A Look at International Fishing Communities

In Scotland we have a long history of fishing and busy coastal harbours.  Without a doubt sea fishing has for generations sustained communities.  This image of women and men working in Stornoway is testament to the visible benefit of fishing to coastal communities.  Often fishing has provided rural and remote communities with the vital food, work and trade to keep populations in existence.
Many communities around the coast are aware of the potential of fisheries to support communities, however in many areas the coastal fleets and facilities are depleted.  CIFA would like to turn this around.  CIFA acknowledge the importance of sustainable fishing and seek to benchmark with sensible international fishing models.  We hope to see the best practice elements adopted in a new fisheries management system.

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The Azores - Tuna Fishing

In the Azores the migratory tuna fish, and are the same fish which pass by our coasts.  In the Azores these tuna are fished and processed by the  coast of the Atlantic Ocean. 

The St Catarina factory is a success story for the fishery, for trade, for employability and for the community.  The St Catarina operation is more than just a sustainable tuna factory; it’s a social project producing over 100 jobs for local women. They offer tours of the factory for visitors, where its possible to see workers hand-canning local Skipjack Tuna — all caught locally.  Other local industries help provide complementary ingredients like olive oil, thyme, oregano and sweet potato.

The women are involved in hand-cleaning, hand-cutting and hand-canning the fish or cutting it into fillets. Machine-canned items are also sold at a lower price, and even these are a wonder to watch as the tins come down from the ceiling via conveyor belt.  Much care, commitment and pride goes into the sustainable seafood produce which sustains local communities from the catching sector through to processing and marketing. This is a very clear example of a fishery our coastal communities do not currently pursue, but of a fishery which could sustain not only the fishing boats and trade, but also community jobs and tourism.   


Norway - Coastal Communities Approach

The Norwegian approach to fisheries is a system where sustainable benefit to wider communities is taken very seriously. Norway is an EFTA/EEA country, not in the European Union, and fisheries is one of the countries top economic performers. Sixty percent of quota is allocated to the Coastal Fleet, with quota held centrally by the Government and allocated annually only to those in ownership of fishing vessels.  Every year returned quota to the Government is distributed to new start fishermen.   They support boat building with two official boat building loan schemes which allow a tangible upgrades of the fleet, an invaluable enabling factor for young fishermen and for the development of a safe fleet.  The fishermen pay a 1.3% levy to ensure neutral and real time accurate science, this ensures the sustainability of stocks are closely monitored.  In addition 0.7% is paid into the marketing and auction system of fish.  It is possible to sell fish directly from boats with monitoring performed quayside in some cases.  The culture and value of fishing is well understood in the coastal towns and villages, and fishing of all scales and sizes are generally accepted as each having a role nationally.  Teenagers often spend their summers helping to process the popular Cod Tongues.  Norway offers a sustainable informed fishing industry across the ages and across the scales of fleet.


The Icelandic Fishing Industry - Consolidation and Vertical Integration

CIFA representatives recently visited Iceland on a fact finding trip. Some real positives of the system were the science facilities, with a population of around 300,000 people in total in Iceland, the Marine research centre employed 190 staff.  Alongside producing world class science they also operate an international exchange programme where world class scientists from around the globe head to Iceland to bring their expertise to marine research body in the country.  Aside from the science the fleet composition is very different from Norway.  Following a stark economic situation nationally the Icelandic Government made a decision to move towards consolidation of the fishing fleet into large scale trawlers.  This system has provided the market with economic return, but it's had an undeniably negative impact on the smaller fishing fleets and their towns and villages.  A database exists in which all ownership of quota can be viewed transparently, while the cap of quota ownership sits at 12%, many of the larger corporations have sister company links, in reality this means companies can be stakeholders in much more than 12% of quota.  The Icelandic system also works to a system of vertical integration, this means the same companies who own the large boats also own the process factories.  There can be no doubt that economically the Icelandic fleet has been successful in raw economic terms, but there is an acceptance that the smaller fleets and their communities have paid a socio-economic price for this model.  The Government have historically ring fenced a token 5% quota for local regions, which should in theory support coastal fleets, however legislation is currently under consideration to allow local governance regions to sell this community quota to the highest bidder if they choose.  Depopulation of rural areas and job loss could be considered by many as a casualty to this model.

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