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Regional fisheries organisation wants governments to do more for fisherfolk in COVID-19 environment

Published:Saturday | November 14, 2020 | 1:36 PM

BELMOPAN, Belize, Nov 14, CMC – The Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO) says the coronavirus pandemic has severely affected people throughout the region, even as it noted that governments “relief and support efforts tend to overlook the working poor, including small scale fisherfolk”.

In a message to mark World Fisheries Day on November 21, CNFO, which represents 17 countries in CARICOM, said that the observance was taking place in the midst of the worst global crisis humanity has ever experience

“Even as our communities face hardship and loss, we take this day to celebrate with pride our global movement, with its diverse cultures and livelihood traditions, and to remember our fallen leaders whose struggles laid a path for us to tread and in whose footsteps we continue the struggle for life, dignity and human rights for all fisher peoples.”

World Fisheries Day will be celebrated under the theme “We celebrate, We protect: Fishers, Oceans, Mother Earth”.

CFNO said the coronavirus pandemic has hit working people, including small scale fisherfolk, noting “in some places the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 have been even worse than the biomedical impacts."

“Yet government relief and support efforts tend to overlook the working poor, including small scale fisherfolk, and do not reach those most in need. Access to good health care is insufficient. Many small scale fisherfolk, whose very survival is at stake, are being squeezed by loss of work, livelihoods, and harsh lockdowns.”

CFNO said that “harsh lockdowns” are preventing fishers from fishing; landing sites remain closed, transportation is disrupted, no ice storage and no sellers and markets, and demand for fish has decreased along with working people’s purchasing power.

“Our fishing communities are being hit hard by worsening natural disasters and are being expropriated to make way for big infrastructure and conservation projects in the name of economic development and climate change adaptation."

The CFNO said on the occasion of World Fisheries Day “we continue our struggle for our human rights, for our rights to catch fish and access our territories and for our rights to retain livelihoods for men, women and youth involved in small-scale fishing."

“We demand climate reparation, restoration of nature, and restitution of rights that have been taken away from us. We call upon all governments to acknowledge our vital role in contributing to eradication of poverty and hunger and remind that we, by magnitude, make up the most numerous segment of all working people dependent on the ocean for livelihoods and income.”

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