ICA Report: Co-ops, Sustainable Fisheries and Food Security to Int'l Conf. on Sustainable Fisheries (1995)

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 This document has been made available in electronic format by
       the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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              International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
 15 Route des Morillons, 1218 Grand Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland

        Submission to the International Conference on the 
      Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security
               4-9 December 1995, Kyoto, Japan
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 | |                                                      | |
 | |   The Contribution of Co-operatives to Sustainable   | |
 | |           Fisheries and Food Security                | |
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         The International Co-operative Alliance is a
         non-governmental organization in consultative 
         status, category I, with ECOSOC, which unites, 
         serves and represents co-operatives worldwide. 1/
         ICA is presenting this report on the contribution 
         of co-operatives to food security with regard to 
         the fisheries sector.  

Introduction
------------
The International Co-operative Alliance is a non-governmental
organization in consultative status, category I, with ECOSOC,
which unites, serves and represents co-operatives worldwide. ICA
is presenting this paper to the International Conference on the
Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security to
highlight the contribution of co-operatives to sustainable
fisheries and therefore to food security.  Its aim is to bring
attention to the present and potential role of co-operatives in
promoting sustainable fishing practices which will improve food
security in the communities in which they operate.

What is a Co-operative?
-----------------------
Co-operatives are autonomous associations of persons united
voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural
needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically
controlled enterprise.  They are business enterprises which
operate to serve the needs of their members.  As people's
organizations, co-operatives are also ideally placed to address
questions of sustainable development and have increasingly taken
actions toward making their activities more environmentally
sustainable.  

What are Fishery Co-operatives?
-------------------------------
Fishery co-operatives bring together people involved in the
fishery sector, whether they be involved in actual capture,
processing, and/or marketing. Fishery co-operatives generally
have three main objectives all focusing on the development of the
industry and the well-being of fisherfolk communities.  They aim
at increasing income, improving the standard of living and
increasing the supply of food/protein to their communities and
nations.  

Fisherfolk and persons involved in the fishery sector can
increase capture, improve processing and marketing of fish
products when the unite in a co-operative. Individuals who alone
would find it difficult to maintain their livelihoods, pool their
human and financial resources to enable them to make their
operations viable. Equipment and fishery inputs can be purchased,
loans cans be sought, insurance cover can be obtained, operating
expenses can be rationalized, fish catch efficiency can be
increased by education and training especially with regard
fishery resource management, exploitative situations can be
countered, all enabling more secure captures.  Co-operatives in
this way contribute to food security by allowing fisherfolk to
not only provide food for themselves, but make high quality
protein available to their communities.

Significance of Fishery Co-operatives
-------------------------------------
Fishery co-operatives exist in nearly all countries of the world. 
They are active in both marine and freshwater fisheries as well
as in aquaculture.  In the majority of countries, fishery co-
operatives regroup artisanal fisherfolk.  They are to large
extent the main providers of fishery products for local or
national consumption supplying an important source of low-cost
animal protein to low-income costal populations.  However, co-
operatives not only bring together small-scale fisheries, but
also large commercial fisheries especially in the Asia/Pacific
region.  

Some examples of the status and significance of fisheries co-
operatives in selected countries are noted below:

      In Canada, fishery co-operatives regrouped nearly 10,000
      individuals in over 55 fishery co-operatives.  These
      accounted for 8 percent of the market share of fisheries
      products in 1992.  Fish marketing by fishery co-operatives
      reached nearly 190 million Canadian dollars. 2/

      In India in 1995, there exist over 9,300 fishery co-
      operatives with a membership of 956,100 individuals
      regrouped in the National Federation of Fishermen's Co-
      operatives. It is estimated that 11 percent of all
      fishermen in India are organized into co-operatives.

      In Japan, 1,995 fisheries co-operatives (which include
      coastal or small-scale, medium- and large-scale fisheries)
      representing 350,000 individuals regrouped in the apex
      organization ZENGYOREN were responsible for nearly 70
      percent of the total value of the fisheries production of
      Japan in 1994.  It should also be noted that as fishing
      rights in japan are granted exclusively to fisheries co-
      operatives, all fishermen are members of co-operatives.

      There are 82 fishery co-operatives in Korea representing
      163,000 individuals, which comprises the majority of the
      fishing population.  These were responsible for fisheries
      sales of 1,622,600 metric tons in 1994.

      In Nicaragua, artisanal fishery co-operatives regrouped in
      a federation with 65 co-operatives were responsible for 60
      percent of fishery exports for a value of nearly 40 million
      US Dollars.

Constraints to the Development of Fishery Co-operatives
-------------------------------------------------------
The majority of fishermen in many countries of the world are not
yet organized into associations or co-operatives.  In many
countries, fishermen continue to be controlled by middlemen which
impede the socio-economic development of fishing communities and
distance fishermen from integrated development policies and
strategies.  One of the principle reason is that fishermen face
policy constraints which discourage the formation of co-
operatives.  In many case, legal, political and financial
frameworks that provide fishermen with the option to forma
autonomous fisheries co-operative are lacking.

Role of Co-operatives in Promoting Sustainable Development:
               Co-operative Agenda 21
-----------------------------------------------------------
Co-operatives in all sectors of activity have been concerned with
human and environmental development for decades.  However, in
October 1992, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
Congress in Tokyo, Japan adopted a Declaration on the Environment
and Sustainable Development. The Declaration reaffirms that in
order to achieve sustainable development, the protection of the
environment must constitute an integral part of the development
process and can not be considered as a separate issue.  The
Declaration also affirms co-operatives' commitment to action in
promoting sustainable development practices. The Declaration
takes note of the specific contributions of co-operatives in the
preservation of the natural environment, the importance of
promoting environment education and the need to influence
government policy in the area of environment and development. The
Declaration also recommended the preparation of a Co-operative
Agenda 21 to specify the types of activities which co-operatives
could undertake to promote sustainable development. Prepared by
the ICA Secretariat under the mandate of the Declaration, the Co-
operative Agenda 21 reports on the present activities undertaken
by co-operatives.  In an attempt to assist co-operatives identify
specific actions which promote sustainable development, a series
of recommendations is also included.

One of the major contribution of co-operatives to sustainable
development, due to their member orientation, is its enormous
potential for raising public awareness through the education and
training of members and the communities which co-operatives
serve.  Building people's capacity to address environment and
development issues is perhaps the key aim of the Co-operative
Agenda 21.

Adopted at the ICA Centennial Congress in Manchester (September,
1995),  Co-operative Agenda 21 describes basis for action,
objectives and potential activities for co-operatives which can
promote sustainable development.  Included are chapters on
agriculture, consumer, fisheries, housing, industrial, tourism,
energy, finance, education and training and communications.

Role of Fishery Co-operatives in Promoting Sustainable Fisheries
----------------------------------------------------------------
The ICA and its members reaffirmed their conviction that
fisherfolk organized within co-operatives can contribute
effectively to maintaining marine and freshwater resources at
sustainable levels and thereby contribute to food security. 
Accordingly, Co-operative Agenda 21 identifies two main
objectives for fishery co-operatives that of promoting the
sustainable use of marine and freshwater living resources; and
establishing sustainable aquaculture development strategies.  It
underlines that both industrial fishery co-operatives as well as
artisanal fishery co-operatives whose contribution to food and
rural development is particularly significant and efficient in
economic and ecological terms should strive to attain these
objectives. Co-operative Agenda 21 identifies specific actions
in areas in which fishery co-operatives can have an impact on
environmental conservation and economic development.  These
include increasing the availability of fishery products for
nutritional needs while ensuring that all activities related to
the fishing sector are implemented in a responsible manner with
due consideration to biological, technological, social, economic,
environmental and commercial aspects.  An excerpt of the Co-
operative Agenda 21 is annexed for information.

Although only approved in September 1995, ICA members within the
fishery co-operative movement as well as the ICA Fisheries
Committee (a specialized body of the ICA which regroups fishery
co-operatives throughout the world), have undertaken specific
activities to implement sustainable fisheries.  

Significant contributions to developing sustainable fisheries
have been made by the National Federation of Fisheries Co-
operative Association (ZENGYOREN) of Japan which in November,
1995 adopted a Three-Year Action Environment/Fisheries Programme
for the Co-operative Movement (1996-1998) calling for the
establishment of a co-operative environmental conservation and
monitoring system and an environmental assessment system for
fisheries co-operatives. ZENGYOREN also adopted policies aimed
at reducing environmental pollution.  Their 1996-1998 National
Fisheries Co-operative Policies call for strengthening resource
management and promoting environmental conservation through an
integrated ecosystem approach linking forest, rivers and oceans.

In 1995, the Hungarian Federation of Fishery Co-operatives
regrouping freshwater and aquaculture fishery co-operatives
signed an agreement of co-operation with the Ministry of the
Environment. Under the agreement fishery co-operatives are
responsible for monitoring water quality and reporting any
deterioration of water quality likely to have negative effects
on the fish stocks. Upon receiving the report, the Ministry is
responsible for taking steps to remedy the situation.  In
addition, the Federation practices freshwater resource management
by replenishing freshwater fish stocks in order to maintain
ecosystem balance.

The National Federation of Fishery Co-operatives of Korea has
also crusaded pollution abatement campaigns and have provided
training to its members in resource management.

The ICA Fisheries Committee has also addressed the issue of
sustainable fisheries in its meetings.  Two specific activities
were mandated by its members: the participation in the
discussions with FAO on the Code of Conduct for Responsible
Fishing and the holding of a seminar in which one of the topics
would be the promotion of sustainable fisheries.  Accordingly,
the Committee was represented at the FAO Committee on Fisheries
and organized two regional seminars in Central and Latin America
(Costa Rica and Chile) which focused on the need for fishermen
to adopt sustainable fishing practices.  Fishermen were informed
on the negative consequences of irresponsible fishing practices
to the environment and to their livelihoods. The seminar resulted
in providing information, but also commitment from the
participating co-operatives to reassess the inputs used in fish
capture (nets, vessels, fuel) and the after-capture processing
(transport, refrigeration, etc). 

Conclusion
----------
Fishery co-operatives can have a significant impact on making
both small-scale fisheries and industrial fisheries sustainable. 
Their actions as individual producers and as organizations
representing the interests of their members can contribute to
reducing  overfishing and depletion of fish stocks; can work with
governments and other agencies to monitor non-authorized
infiltration of foreign fishing fleets; can contribute to
stopping the degradation of ecosystems due to contaminants
(sewage, nutrients, synthetic organic compounds, sediments,
litter and plastics, metals, radionuclides, oil/hydrocarbons and
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's), etc.); can through
joint action increase the value of fish captures; can introduce
selective fishing gear and create reliable databases; etc. 

However, fishery co-operatives like other fishery associations
can only be effective if there is a favourable legal and
political environment for fishermen.  Areas such as property
rights or fishing rights must be addressed to allow fishery co-
operatives to have an impact.  Technology and information must
become accessible. These issues are not likely to be addressed
if fishermen do not organize themselves effectively. 
Partnerships with fishery co-operatives could be envisaged as a
way to include fishing communities in dialogues with government
and international organizations on areas that effect their own
livelihood as well as the food security of many countries and
encourage converted action for compliance with policies in place
to ensure responsible fisheries.

ICA encourages governments to facilitate the formation of
autonomous co-operatives by providing the necessary legal
institutional and financial framework thereby enabling fisherfolk
and fisheries co-operatives to contribute to the establishment
of responsible and sustainable fisheries for food security.  ICA
is committed to co-operate with governments in order to realize
this enabling environment for the development of fishery co-
operatives worldwide.

We hope that the FAO and participating governments of the
Conference will make efforts to establish links with fishery co-
operatives so as to exchange information and experience in the
future.  ICA commits itself to assist in forging these ties.
We hope that the FAO and participating governments of the
Conference will make efforts to establish links with fishery co-
operatives so as to exchange information and experience in the
future. ICA commits itself to assist in forging these ties. 

Notes
-----
1/    The ICA regroups over 200 member organizations representing
      over 750 million individual members in all sectors of the
      economy.
2/    Government of Canada.  Co-operation in Canada. Minister of
      Supply and Services Canada, Fall 1994. pp. 16, 25.

                    * * * * * * * * 


                          ANNEX


            Excerpt from Co-operative Agenda 21

         -------------------------------------------
         Co-operative Agenda 21 - The Fishery Sector
         -------------------------------------------

Fishing, including aquaculture, provides an important source of
protein, productive employment, trade and economic well-being for
communities throughout the world.  In order for present and
future generations to continue to benefit from these resources,
responsible fishing practices must be adopted.

In many regions of the world, fisheries encounter problems of
increasing magnitude and gravity, including local overfishing,
the non-authorized infiltration of foreign fishing fleets, the
degradation of ecosystems due to contaminants (sewage, nutrients,
synthetic organic compounds, sediments, litter and plastics,
metals, radionuclides, oil/hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons (PAH's), etc.) the under-value of fish captures, the
lack of selective fishing gear and reliable databases, the ever-
increasing competition between artisanal and industrial fishing
as well as between fishing and other types of activities.

Marine fisheries yield 80 to 90 million tons of fish and
shellfish per year.  Fishery co-operatives contribute to these
yields and as such can contribute to ensuring that all activities
related to the fishing sector are implemented in a responsible
manner with due consideration to biological, technological,
social, economic, environmental and commercial aspects.

Accordingly, the Co-operative Agenda 21 identifies two main
objectives for fishery co-operatives.

      1.     Promote the sustainable use of marine and freshwater
             living resources; 

      2.     Establish sustainable aquaculture development
             strategies.

These objectives should be adopted by industrial fishery co-
operatives as well as artisanal fishery co-operatives whose
contribution to food and rural development is particularly
significant and efficient in economic and ecological terms.

Co-operative Agenda 21 identifies general areas in which fishery
co-operatives can have an impact on environmental conservation
and economic development.

      (a)    Develop and increase the potential of marine and
             freshwater living resources to meet human nutritional
             needs, as well as social, economic and development
             goals through the promotion of fishery co-operatives,
             especially artisanal fishery co-operatives, and taking
             into account traditional knowledge and interests of
             local communities, small-scale artisanal fisheries and
             indigenous people in the development and management
             programmes

      (b)    Maintain or restore populations of marine and
             freshwater species at levels that can produce the
             maximum sustainable yield as qualified by relevant
             environmental and economic factors, taking into
             consideration relationships among species;
             
                   - preserve rare or fragile ecosystems, as well as
                   habitats and other ecologically sensitive areas.

      (c)    Promote the development and use of selective fishing
             gear and practices that minimize waste in the catch of
             target species and minimize by-catch of non-target
             species;
      
                   - prohibit dynamiting, poisoning and other
                   comparable  destructive fishing practices;

                   - reduce post-harvest losses and discards by
                   improving techniques of processing, distribution
                   and transportation.

      (d)    Provide education and training on environmentally
             sound fishing and fish processing and create public
             awareness with regard to fishery management,
             development and environmental protection.

      (e)    Provide technical and financial assistance to
             organize, maintain, exchange and improve knowledge of
             marine and freshwater living resources and fishing
             techniques, and upgrade knowledge on ecosystems;

                   - promote movement-to movement assistance.

      (f)    Strengthen ties with multinational, regional and
             national organizations including the Food and
             Agricultural Organization of the United Nations
             (Fisheries Committee);
      
      (g)    Comply with international agreements that aim at
             protecting marine resources.