Plotting The Path To Spanish Sustainability

Fishermen and scientists are working together to map the sea floor, in a bid for sustainable Spanish fisheries.

The first ever mapping of sea habitats and ecosystems in South Galicia, an area famous for its good fish and fine wines, has been produced by fishermen and scientists working together within the GAP2 project. Juan Manuel Paisal Sobrido from the local fishermen’s brotherhood “Confraría de Aguiño”, was involved in the project, and explains its importance:

“Knowing more about our fisheries empowers our fishermen to fish sustainably and continue their livelihoods. Previously, we’ve found it difficult to produce scientific evidence to support our understanding of the seas, gained through years of fishing.

But through working with scientists such as those involved in GAP2, we have shared our understanding, and learned about theirs. We all now have a better evidence base from which we can decide how to fish for the long-term.” [continued below]

The maps will be of real practical use, supporting fishermen who want to take part in their fisheries’ governance, while contributing towards conservation projects such as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) proposal for the region.

Moreover, it’s production, which involved over 19 interviews between fishermen and scientists, represents a significant step in improving relationships between these groups – frequently found in conflict elsewhere.

Pablo Pita Orduna, scientist on the GAP2 case study in Galicia, commented on this process:

“Not only are these maps useful, but they have helped fishermen and scientists “cross the divide” when collaborating on this project.

Previously, fishermen in the area would have been reluctant to reveal what they know, as such information is highly valuable and their incomes depend upon it. So for fishermen to share this material, both amongst themselves, and with scientists (who have often been perceived as being trying to stop fishing) – it’s a major breakthrough”

He concluded:

“Through such work, we want to develop a partnership between fishers and scientists which will inform and shape future co-management of the region’s fisheries. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners.”

The map was sent on 13th July 2012 to the organisations involved; the fishers will have their chance to provide final feedback on 7th December at an official meeting organised by GAP2.

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