The International Co-operative Fisheries Organisation (ICFO) is urging governments to establish fisheries co-operatives and safeguard the rights of fishers.
International Co-operative Alliance's sectoral organisation adopted a declaration that calls upon national governments to establish clear policies regarding the role and positioning of fisheries co-operatives within their national development programmes.
The declaration, which came out of the 3rd World Fisheries Co-operative Day held in Indonesia in June, highlights the main issues governments should take into account when drafting such development programmes.
According to ICFO, fisheries co-operatives can help to address the global challenges of poverty, social disparity, unemployment and the destruction of marine and fish resources. They also play an important role in in guaranteeing safe fishing activities, mitigating maritime disputes, maintaining fish stocks and reducing accidents at sea.
The document recommends protecting the rights and increasing the incomes of fisheries throughout the world by revitalising the activities of fisheries co-operatives.
To help grow the sector, co-operatives need to benefit from a dynamic legal framework, making sure they are deemed equal with private and public enterprises. The declaration emphasises that co-operatives should not be adversely affected by private enterprises that aim to maximise their profit by pushing aside economically weaker fisheries co-operatives.
It also underlined that governments should ensure that the rights of fisheries that join co-operatives are protected, while making sure capital-weak fisheries co-operatives can run their business democratically and independently.
While reaffirming the importance of the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, the declaration is asking national governments to take the necessary steps to provide a special and independent Fisheries Co-operative Law.