#BTColumn – Towards a fisheries regeneration aid
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Regenerate Barbados
Despite a marine area 400 times larger than its landmass, relatively few Barbadians pay much attention to the surrounding sea except for seafood, sargassum and sea bathing. This needs to change. A transformation is needed to revitalize the fishing industry in Barbados for the benefit of society.
World Environment Day is June 5, World Oceans Day is celebrated on June 8, 2022, the whole month of June is Caribbean Fisherman’s Month and the United Nations has declared 2022 the International Year of Fisheries artisanal and aquaculture. So, let’s look out to sea and think about how to change our relationship with our ocean and our fisheries. It may also change our approach to the blue economy.
One perspective that can help change is the donut economy. Those of you familiar with the classic donut ring know that neither a bite out of the ring nor a bite into the donut hole will satisfy. The sweet spot you want is the ring itself. This is the essence of the donut economy. Described as a doughnut, the economic argument is that we must neither exceed ecological limits in the pursuit of growth, nor fall below a social limit into the hole of poverty and despair. We must stay within social and ecological boundaries to be in the sweet spot of the donut ring for all to thrive, not for many to barely survive while a few profit ruthlessly from the excesses.
Where the donut meets the ocean is in ensuring that marine resources are not overexploited and that fishers can earn a decent living providing services for the well-being of society. Fishermen around the world fear the blue economy as part of the conventional economy. Many see it as another way to accelerate their marginalization. This includes being squeezed out of coastal and marine spaces by more powerful economic sectors, industries and interests. These include mass tourism, oil and gas, marine renewable energy, transport and even land-based pollution that pollutes and degrades habitats. The playing field is never level.
A donut economic approach to the blue economy might be less of a concern. Not only would the focus be on environmental management, but also on sustainable livelihoods. Many people will have to work together to achieve economic and social balance. The theme for World Oceans Day and Caribbean Fisherman’s Month is collective action; work together for a common goal. Support fisher organizations and responsible fishing that contribute to our food security, culture and economy while providing decent work.
Did you know that Barbados is required by law to have a policy-level fisheries advisory committee and fisheries management plans? What rights and obligations will fishers have in the proposed Marine Spatial Plan for Barbados? How will the physical development along our coasts integrate our fisheries? What opportunities do our fisheries offer young women and men who seek to live honestly and well from the sea? What steps need to be taken to return our degraded reefs to a healthy state despite climate change? Can the adoption of the donut economy be an opportunity to demonstrate a more balanced development?
For the rest of the month, think more about our ocean and our fisheries within social and ecological limits. There are always compromises. Should well-being be sacrificed for limitless growth? Wouldn’t you rather aim for a dynamic social and ecological balance in the donut? These are the questions Regenerate Barbados invites us all to ponder in June and beyond.
To learn more, visit Regenerate Barbados with Donut Economics on Facebook. Regenerate Barbados and The Center for Resource Management and Environmental Studies, UWI, Barbados.