Slow Food is a global, grassroots organisation that counters the rise of fast food by raising awareness on the importance of our local food cultures, linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to local communities and the environment.
When it comes to fisheries, the challenges we are facing are all but simple or clearly defined. They are indeed complex and address a poorly understood natural world. We believe that a territorial approach is the best way to tackle this complexity.
Through the development of Slow Fish - an international network and campaign, and a bi-annual event since 2003, dedicated to responsible fisheries and coastal development - Slow Food aims to:
- Develop local messages to address the complexity of the issue, helping citizens to become more informed and active consumers (defined by Slow Food as “co-producers”).
- Highlight the value of small-scale fisheries; a living heritage retaining local knowledge and economic structures that can help restore and maintain jobs in our coastal communities.
- Recreate a direct link between fishers and consumers (a link which has been severed by distribution practices and the flow of cheap imports), fostering direct encounters so that society hears and engages with fishermen.
- Spread knowledge about the variety of existing species and the seasonality of seafood, better educating consumers on diversity and enabling them to rediscover “underloved” species, thus avoiding concentration of value on just a few.
- Support multidisciplinary and shared policies that restore and secure fair conditions for small-scale fisheries to develop responsibly, within a bottom up resource management approach involving all stakeholders. Small-scale fishers’ vulnerable position was largely brought upon them by incentives and pressures that come with industrialisation: to get more fish, to specialise in fewer species and to buy larger boats.
- Highlight that oceans, lakes and waterways are a common resource that belong to us all, and are therefore a shared responsibility.
In order to do this we:
- Facilitate the creation and development of local alliances - between fishers, chefs, researchers, consumers, farmers, local NGOs and CSOs - to find collective local responses to the challenges facing food production and environmental management, as well as the safeguarding of our cultures and identities.
- Develop fun, tasty, participative and engaging activities, in ports, farmers’ markets, fishmongers’ shops, etc., as well as during national and international events, centred on dialogue, sharing of experiences and knowledge exchange (designed for children and adults alike).
- Support measures of income diversification for fishers, in order to alleviate the fishing pressure on endangered stocks and to reinforce fishers in their role as sea custodians, as well as cultural and tourism operators.
Through our work, we have come to understand the absolute necessity of a constant dialogue between as many different stakeholders as possible - including fishers, local market drivers, such as restaurants, or institutional markets, such as hospitals - to foster collective dynamics that will secure access to good, clean and fair food.
Ultimately, we believe that virtuous processes can be promoted by focusing on values, more than on the design of technical measures.
The website - www.slowfood.com/slowfish - brings together existing information and resources on the issue, and communicates the work of the Slow Fish network.