Fishermen Catching Youth's attention for future
The United Nations says that children are taking over and turning the world blue. Building on the international #GoBlue campaign and the support of local fishermen, we were able to advance the education of students, build awareness, and share some indigenous knowledge and insights. Universal Children’s Day is recognized globally to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.
On a day when “Mothers and fathers, teachers, nurses and doctors, government leaders and civil society activists, religious and community elders, corporate moguls and media professionals as well as young people and children themselves can play an important part in making Universal Children's Day relevant for their societies, communities and nations”; the Felicity Charlieville Fishing Association facilitated an experiential learning experience for CSEC students from San Juan Secondary School.
Real discussions on the challenges of fisherfolk and fishing communities, the sustainability of the Gulf of Paria fishery and the thousands of people who depend on it directly for a livelihood, the value of the blue economy, and the fact that the concept of family farming is skewed to agriculture without due consideration of the inter-generational links in the fishing industry were ventilated. Emerging issues on illegal, unregulated, and under-reported fishing, management of an open access resource, as well as the need to motivate men and women who remain in the drudgery of the industry were brought to their attention.
Given the issues of oil spills, industrial waste, and other pollution in the nation’s waterways and by extension the Gulf of Paria; the FCFA is once again calling for greater sensitivity and citizen action towards reducing pollution and unsustainable practices which affect the integrity and sustainability of the Gulf fishery.
The impact of pollution including effluent from recent on-land flooding events across the country, and that which routinely occurs, adds to debris, sedimentation, and destruction of eco-systems, habitats, breeding and feeding grounds for aquatic life and food sources available to the population.
Fisherfolk are still eager to understand the role of the Ministry of Rural Development after its conception and great expectations since 2015. An articulated and ventilated rural development policy which recognizes the peculiar needs of those at the end of our country’s travel network but which raises them on the national development agenda is yet to be seen. Which areas of this country are considered rural? Which strategic resources have been committed to its development outside of what would normally obtain?
The economic fortunes of rural and coastal communities are pegged, in the most part, to agriculture, fisheries and tourism. We must pursue and establish a rural development policy that is focused, not on urbanization, but is committed to meeting the challenges faced by our rural and coastal areas, while importantly, unlocking their potential.
Our future demands that we act.
Failing infrastructure, diminishing natural resources, ageing fleets, farmers and fishers, rising costs of operation and production among a plethora of issues does not auger well for our leaders of tomorrow for whom we should be preparing a food production sector which is inclusive, climate-smart, resilient, sustainable, yields a respectable livelihood but more importantly, provides safe and affordable food to our country. These are issues for national conversation on the future of food and nutrition security for Trinidad and Tobago which we hope they can handle.