On July 14, over 20 students of marine biology at the University of Panama hosted a talk on Responsible Fishing Practices. The day began with an organized outing to Isla Iguana, where the students and their professors talked about the importance of maintaining clean beaches in protecting wildlife, especially marine wildlife. Also in attendance were a group of activists from Pedasi, and members of the association of fishermen, APROPSERTUR. The group of over 30 participants then divided into smaller groups to spread out and cover as much ground as possible collecting trash. From toothbrushes to rusty oil barrels, the range of trash was diverse and detrimental to the island’s wildlife. The ANAM guard on the island explained that most of the time, visitors are very responsible about picking up their own trash, and what we were collecting refuse that washed up on shore from other parts. At the end of the morning, the group had over 40 bags of trash – a full boat’s worth to take back to shore.
In the evening, the students regrouped at the Azuero Earth Project Office to host a lecture on the importance of responsible fishing. In attendance were members of the community as well as APROPSERTUR, the association of fisherman and boat captains in Pedasi. After the powerpoint presentation, the students opened the floor to questions. Mentioned more than once was the importance of the distinction between industrial scale fishing and artisanal fishing. Most of the fishermen in the association use fishing poles rather than nets, with essentially eliminates bycatch.
Also discussed was the idea that consumers are not able to differentiate where their fish comes from, meaning that artisanally caught tuna has the same price as industrially caught tuna, with all the negative environmental implications that that entails. The idea was raised to create a labeling initiative to differentiate fish caught here in Pedasi, and to perhaps be able to charge more for the locally, responsibly fished tuna. Help us continue this conversation by checking out the link to the powerpoint presentation below, and add your comments below. Would you pay more for local, responsible fish? Have you traveled in communities where they have successfully implemented artisanal fishing marketing programs? Let us know!