02 / 1998
A Workshop on Electronic Communication and Internet was held in Lima, Peru, from 27 to 29 May 1997 at the Catholic University of Lima. About 20 participants from FIUPAP, Peru; CONAPACH and FETRINECH, Chile; FENACOPEC, Ecuador; Sindicato de Obreros Maritimos Unificados, Argentina; and Instituto Terramar and Centro Josue de Castro, Brazil, took part in the Workshop. Satish Babu from the South Indian Federation of Fishermen
Societies, India, was the principal resource person.
The original idea for conducting the workshop arose at the conference organised by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers in Cebu, Philippines, and was proposed by the Latin American fishworkers’ organizations. The idea fitted in with ICSF’s communications programme which, among other things, aims at setting up a bulletin board service (BBS)to improve communication between fishworkers’ organizations and NGOs, facilitating discussion forums (on fisheries agreements, fishing technologies, fisheries legislation, fleet movements,
status of stocks, struggles of fishworkers, reports on workshops and consultations, organizational strategies, regional networks, etc), and setting up a central repository of information on fisheries and fishworkers’ issues.
The Lima workshop helped expose fishworkers’ organizations and supporting NGOs in Latin America with basic electronic communications technologies required for promoting better information access and worldwide exchanges. It helped launch a networking operation using electronic communication in order to facilitate interaction between fishworkers’ organizations and NGOs. It also helped ICSF familiarize itself with current fisheries issues in Latin America.
The Workshop was held in collaboration with the Huayuna Institute which, among other things, works with the artisanal fishermen at the community level in Pisco, Peru. Three main areas for greater networking at the regional level were identified: degradation of the coastal environment, including the destructive impact of sea lions on artisanal fishing, incursion of foreign fishing fleet into the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), and aspects of safety at sea.
Risco Guillermo of FETRINACH, Chile, for example, said that the conditions of work of industrial fishworkers have worsened in the recent past. Fishermen are expected to put in 18 hours of work a day. Although the retirement age in fisheries is 65, there is not a single crewmember in Chile who is above 50. In most cases the crewmember is burnt out by 40 or 45. Risco lamented the fact that everything is focused mainly on issues of production. He said fishers have to do something together to defend their national heritage and, towards this end,
he said, it is important to exchange experiences. In this context, he found the idea of e-mail networking quite useful.
The participants were positive about the outcome of the workshop and saw it as the beginnings of professionalizing organizational management. They felt that the use of e-mail and Internet would give them greater access to information that they consider will be useful to exert international pressure on fisheries issues.
They also felt that regional arrangement for artisanal fishworkers could work and were keen on having an association of artisanal fishers at the Latin American level. At the end of the Workshop, a committee, consisting of representatives from FIUPAP, CONAPACH, FETRINECH and FENACOPEC, was formed, to promote networking on regional issues.
The Workshop on Electronic Communication and Internet, attended by representatives of Latin American fishworker organizations and NGOs, provided a useful opportunity for fishworkers to meet and discuss issues of regional concern, and to learn about ways in which the electronic medium can promote networking between them on these issues.
In an era where communication technology is expanding rapidly, fishworker organizations are well aware of the need to be familiar with such technology to pursue their own goals.
Organising similar workshops in other parts of the world would be very helpful in enabling fishworkers to become a better-organized force at the international level.
Articles and files
BABU, Satish, Net worth in. Samudra Report, 1998/01, 19