Workshops

Fisheries

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These traditional sailing craft survived the Tsunami that devastated much of the coastline of Sri Lanka. They form the basis for the economy of little fishing villages like this one at Idhiwara. But as global fish stocks decline through the demands of population growth and pollution, it becomes progressively harder for traditional fishing to provide even a subsistence living, and no capacity to bounce back from Tsunami style devastation without outside assistance. The delivery van featured here sits outside an ice flake maker, provided as part of a Merrill J Fernando Foundation commitment to this region. The ice chips enable fisherman to go further offshore for their catch and still return with fresh fish. The van enables them to take their catch to market and cut out exploitative middle men. This is set in the context of an education programme and micro-credit to develop sustainable enterprise from the ground up.

Recent studies have suggested that by about 2050, at current rates of exploitation and escalation, all the world's commercial fisheries will have collapsed. Approximately 600 fish stocks are regularly monitored and of these about 75% are considered to be overexploited. As a consequence of declining stocks large commercial fishing vessels are going further from home and depleting the stocks around Africa, the Pacific Islands and other developing nations, thereby destroying their subsistence fishing capability. For many of these people fish are their most regular form of protein.

Emptying of oil tanks at sea contributes six millions tonnes of hydrocarbons into the open ocean creating slicks, causing damage to tourism industries and a deteriorating marine habitat. About 30% of the world's coral reefs were destroyed during the last century and another 15% will be depleted over the next 20 years, again undermining subsistence sea-food harvesting.

These trends have business implications for those involved in all aspects of commercial fishing. Fish farming, and technologies to track and model fish stocks more accurately could provide business opportunities.