Blue School 2008
Guidelines for Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries in the Mediterranean
Barcelona, 9-12 December


Mediterranean Coastal Fishing Communities Alterations of the Marine Ecosystem
In memory of François Marty, fisherman and ethnographer at Gruissan

Serge Collet, Marine Anthropologist
ecostproject.org, partner 7
University of Calabria, Majise
I) Does Co Management Schemes exist in the Mediterranean to suit to the Marine Ecosystem's Rebuilding?

Fishing co management has been defined as "a shift away from autocratic and paternalistic modes of management to modes that relay on the joint efforts of traditional fishing specialists and fishing people" (Mc Goodwin 1990, 189-190). Ideally, co management would give to fishers a real influence, making their practical knowledge, their world views pertinent by bringing difference, sensitivity and contextuality in the decision making process with state representatives. Co-management or co-governing correspond to the ideal of a participative democracy, increasing legitimacy of regulations by broadening knowledge and fine-tuning the rules and reinforcing adherence, compliance to the management regime. Schematically, the forms of fishing management or fishing governance regimes can be represented as "a horizontal continuum from nearly total self-management to nearly total state management, co-management forms, being in the middle of this continuum" (Pinkerton 1994, 322-23). In short, co management or co governing are about sharing of power to maintain, to modify or to transform the fishing practices and fishing regimes. These arrangements "between representatives of user groups, government agencies, research institutes and other stakeholders" (Jentoft, 2003, 3) have worked well in North Europe. But does a "process by which institutional arrangements and ecological knowledge are revised in a dynamic ongoing, self-organising process of learning by doing" exist? (Olsson et al. 2004). Let us first consider that in the last century, since the mid 80ies to the end of the 90ies the co management approach has been very fashionable in highly developed countries or developing capitalistic ones as in some fisheries institutional forums of the world.
Co management has been considered in a certain moment as new concept opening promise and possibilities, in reality, those ones of the accommodation process to the national state and globalized market.

It is noteworthy that co management deals with two very different realities: on the one hand there are the local fishing communities, necessarily bound to a fishing territory (an extremely ancient dimension in the Mediterranean, the Ichtydesa chora) and on the other hand there are the fleet fishing segments that support interest groups. Indeed, they are two opposite halieutical morphologies (Collet 1999, 2006a, 2006b) which disappear in a tricky modernist euphemisation where fishers, fishing industry, fishing pressure, fisheries, the fishing sector, fishing resources, resource and small scale fisheries are the discursive operators of the dominant managerial paradigm. This managerial paradigm, born in North Western Europe with the capitalistic modernizing process of the fishing practices and apparatus has failed to preserve the sea bounty, locally, regionally and globally. A societal good has been wasted. In the mid-90ies of the last century, the process of vulnerabilization of marine entities and marine productivity became more and more obvious, culminating in the analysis of the deep alterations of the "marine food webs" i.e. the famous "process of fishing down the marine food web" (Pauly et al. 1998).

The responsible fishing practices (FAO 1995), the precautionary approach (FAO 1996), the ecosystem approach (FAO 2003) gained credence and are now slowly reshaping from a new holistic approach the fishing managerial paradigm and consequently its by product i.e. the functional component of the co management (fleet segments of semi industrial extractive apparatus).
In fact, in the sociological parlance about governing processes and institutions the term of stakeholders has replaced that one of user groups. The marine anthropologist feels not much better with this new wording which, nevertheless, points out the widening of the spectrum of those called in the governing process of fishing practices in order to cope with the historically unprecedented vulneralization of the marine bounty. With or without "co management" the true issue at stake is the deep alteration of the marine life, the necessity not only to stop the process of its destruction paradigmatically illustrated by the industrial halieucid of the blue fin tuna in the Mediterranean (Tudela 2002) but to proceed to its rebuilding. In a recent article "A Novel Index For Quantification of Ecosystem Effects of Fishing as Removal of The Secondary Production" (Libralato et al. 2008, 107-129), the authors, marine ecologists, state that for the Mediterranean it is necessary to reduce the catches and discards of 58% on the global scale in order to reach a probability of a sustainability of 75% for the Mediterranean marine ecosystem (2008, 123).

II) Marine Affordances and Mediterranean Halieutical Social Morphologies

Giving a look at one of the main fishing states in the Mediterranean i.e. Italy, one can state that the Italian fish landings fell 32% between 1996 and 2002. Annual landings of Italian fishers in the Mediterranean are now under 300.000 t (285831t) in 2006, significantly lower than the average 570000 per year between 1979 and 1983 or the 460000t in the 1990s. The captures of coastal fishers were in annual average 8,6t in 2000 and set up at 4,8t in 2006. Without doubt, beyond the real reduction of the fishing effort those figures testify of the declining of the marine affordance. Now we have to keep in mind that the Mediterranean remains fundamentally a "sea of small boats" (Collet 1998). It is particularly true in the EU; 34570 boats smaller than 12m among a total of 42500 boats in the Mediterranean EU. The inshore employments amount to 72000 (after Salz 2006) on a total of 89800 fishing employments, a nightmare for the "managers". Thus, who has to support the burden of this implicit and necessary extremely drastic reduction of the fishing effort including fishing capacity previously mentioned?

It is a social justice issue, especially crucial in Greece where small boats represent 47% of the Mediterranean EU fishers in 2007 and are the base for the livelihood in many poor and semi desert like islands i.e. more than 400.
These Mediterranean EU coastal fishers are defined by a social halieutical morphology inscribed in the very long span of time of the ecotype farmers fishers emerged in the 9th century b.c. in strong contrast to the semi industrial exploitation boosted by the states; a model which evolved in Spain, France and Italy in the last century since the 60ies, historically speaking it is a very short period.
This social-ecological configuration continues to include the fact of belonging to marine burghs, territoriality, seasonality of fishing practices, communal transmission of local ecological knowledge (lek) or better ecological-technical knowledge, communal control, weak or strong, of the fishing practices, combining multi gears, short range of fishing activity, strongly constraint by the weather and the state of the local marine ecostystemic affordances (constraints on technology deployed), periodic abundance of highly migratory species and direct modes of sale of limited quantities of fish.
The territoriality of fishing practices through which marine affordances are explored and appropriated is commanded by the morphological structure of the narrowness of the Mediterranean shelf edged by great deepness and types of bottoms. The very persistence of coastal fishing communities, despite the growing threat to the quality of the marine environment from multiple land based pollution and from the harsh competition for space from urbanisation and tourism (like in Malta or Spain) is exemplarily testified by the remarkable ability to adapt both socially and technically to the nature of the peculiarities of the local marine ecostystemic affordances through time.

This extraordinary persistence is paradigmatically illustrated by the 3000 years of harpooning in the Strait of Skylla (Collet 2007). Thus, it is not by chance that local governing systems of territorial use rights have developed in the time in many places in the Mediterranean as in the case of the French Prudhommies, rooted in the very old past of Phoenician, Greek and Roman religious confraternities, self governing arrangements, able to implement communal fishing practices disciplines. These very robust institutional forms of governing have worked for a long time with a low discount rate, which embedded wisdom of the sea or halieusophy based on the principle giving for protecting (the noun graph appendix) unveiled paradigmatically by the stated goal of the fishers of the prudhommies "the goal is not so much to empty the sea as to make a good living from one's trade and to leave some fish for one's children" (Tempier 1986). This sophy of social justice was obtained through the alignment of trade with those with a low fishing capacity so that everyone should be able to make a livelihood. This sophy is the human response to a physical ecological set of perceived constraints: the narrowness of the coastal shelf. In fact, the fishers say when the garden is small they have to accommodate to it. This local mental framework led to design extremely precise and different operational rules for every type of fishing gear and technique (Marty ? and Marty 2005, 2007), put at risk in the last century in 1960 and again 1990 by the French state.

This slowing down of the fishing pressure, outcome of a cooperative professional discipline in order to share equitably the coastal marine affordances, has had the effect in the long span of time to preserve the nexus between the community of those having access rights to the fishing territory and marine entities and dynamisms. In short, it is noteworthy that the objective conservation ideology of the coastal marine bounty is rooted in the social ecology. However, the fabric's process of a communal discipline and ethics, , ruling the practical and symbolic engagement in the marine nature to make a livelihood, is at risk today. In spite of these threats "giving for protecting" (Noun graph appendix) is exactly the operational scheme that certain prudhommies in the Var and Greece are persuing through the implementation of sea fallows (Cap Roux) and participating in the functioning of the marine protected areas (Port Cros) or wetlands reserve at Messolonghi. Surely it's not enough and perhaps too late if we keep in mind the importance of the requirement of a drastic reduction of the fishing pressure on a Mediterranean scale. Coastal fishers in France or in Greece, however, are the most ecosystem and nature centred fishers in favour of the most effective measures to protect marine ecosystems (ELSA Pêche Project 2002). Coastal fishers from Greece, Italy, France (16% of the 1652 fishers who responded to the postal questionnaire) are those who through their own sea cultural algorithms emphasized the most precautionary measures for the protection of the marine life: such as bans on destructive fishing practices, the implementation of marine protected zones for juveniles and nurseries, marine protected areas, ecosystem based approach.

In 2003, near shore fishers of Greece, united in the Confederation of the Hellenic Fishers, considered that the Mediterranean proposed EU regulation "evolved essential measures which should be applied immediately due to the gravity of the situation". The strong resistance to the proposed regulation has come from the semi industrial fishers. On the 1st October 2004 they left the discussion of the proposal for the first time. The same resistance and reluctance of Italian, French, Spanish and Greek semi industrial extraction, explain the long delay in the implementation of the Mediterranean Regional Advisory Council (RAC) and that one of the management plans and fishing protected zones forecasted in the new regulative framework.
In a harsh context of the capitalistic crisis of the world economies which rose in Europe with the fuel crisis in May 2008, it does not seem that the industrial extracting apparatus is ready to enter in a vast restructuring of the fishing effort to reduce drastically the fleet capacities (Reg.744/2008).

If the plans of adjustment of the fishing capacity concern the fleet segments of which the costs of fuel consumption are higher than 30% (35%of the semi industrial fleet in Italy) they are not compulsory (Reg.744/2008, Art. 12). Mediterranean ecosystems will continue to be damaged.
Does the Mediterranean regulation 1967/2006 offer a valid operational governing framework to cooperate to the rebuilding of the marine abundance and diversity?
Except for the size of landed fish species and some fishing gears coastal fishers are not very concerned. In fact, they remain locked in the national space and institutional apparatus under the responsibility, sovereignty of their respective states (COM 2002/585, 10) for the control of the marine activities in the territorial sea and the implementation of the common environmental standards of the EU (Marine Strategy 2008/56/EC). The local fishing communities are nowhere acknowledged as such. Thus, how could exist a true cooperative management where decision making powers and responsibility is primarily shared between the senior EU and national governments. What about the local halieutical appropriators? In the always dominant productivist modernist view communities and their initiatives are considered as archaic, corporative and paternalistic residues of the past.
But are the Mediterranean EU near shore fishers ready to preserve, to promote responsible fishing practices and to cooperate for the rebuilding of marine ecosystems?

III) Towards the Mediterranean Coastal Mode of Halieutical Appropriation

Based on underlying principles, too shortly exposed in this paper, we think that institutional communal forms of governing, ruling the relationships with a marine environment could be largely implemented and that it is an historical necessity. That could be a mixing of the forms between traditional ways of acting in the prudhommies and the slowly building of the consortiums of coastal fishers existing in Italy all together able to promote sea fallows in the respective fishing territories with or without FADS (Collet 2006) and to fine-tune their halieutical extracting activities (management plans).
We think that is at the price of this social ecocentred logic, a "back to the future" move, reinventing the halieutical commons, truly able to draw the lessons and underlying principles of very long enduring successful experiences in the Mediterranean (coevolving of marine dynamisms and local appropriations modes) through the disciplining of territorial fishing practices, that it is possible to design the pathway for a viable future for the coastal fishing communities. Their role of the keeper of the coastal marine bounty must be reappraised, enforced and scaled up in what we call the Mediterranean halieutical mode of appropriation of the associated inshore fisherman. Ecomuseums for the sea as we have suggested (2006a) would be their sea home where they could analyse and discover their very long history and experiment the parametric governance of the complex and vulnerable coastal ecosystems, under tremendous pressures.

Serge Collet
Hamburg, 7.12.2008

References

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