From Coffee and Tea to Fish in the Sea

From Coffee and Tea to Fish in the Sea

A New Frontier of Fair Trade

Multimedia from this Release

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 5:40pm

CAMPAIGN: Fair Trade USA in the News

CONTENT: Article

All too often the news reports about marine species are grim: We read about declining fish stocksillegal and unregulated fishing and the increasing degradation of coral reefs. Why is this happening? What factors motivate fishing practices that create such harmful outcomes to our precious marine resources?

Fishermen are often on the losing end of global trade, facing low market prices and lack of tools to improve resource management. Fair Trade USA believes there is a missing piece to this complex, yet critically important and ever-evolving puzzle – that we cannot have truly sustainable seafood unless we make sustainable livelihoods for fishing communities a top priority. We believe that Fair Trade can be part of a larger effort to make wild-caught seafood better for people and planet.

The challenge

In 2011, global exports of wild capture fish from developing countries reached USD $34.5 billion. An estimated 120 million people are working in primary and secondary fish livelihoods, and more than 90 percent of the world’s capture fishermen are employed in small-scale fisheries. Like their developing country counterparts in agriculture, many fishing communities struggle against fluctuating market prices, limited direct market access and unregulated working conditions. Furthermore, with many fisheries under inefficient or limited management, fish stocks and marine species are dwindling at an ever-increasing rate. Fishermen are, quite simply, struggling to make ends meet, and they rarely have enough resources and incentives to engage in sustainable fishing practices.

How can Fair Trade help?

The pioneering work of groups such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and Fishery Improvement Project providers has been instrumental in building the sustainable seafood movement and raising consumer demand for responsibly-harvested seafood. Fair Trade USA is excited to offer a complimentary approach to the current sustainable seafood programs, with a focus on social and labor rights, working conditions and economic incentives that inspire better resource management over time.

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