Thousands of young people live around small-scale artisanal fishing and observe their future with concern. Coastal communities lack the conditions to carry out their small-scale artisanal fishing trade with dignity and hope.
Public institutions have ignored the need to create adequate conditions for the small-scale fishing sector, which addresses structural problems and allows maintaining the culture and identity of small-scale artisanal fishing, which is vital for the economy of the country and the food security of the Costa Rican population.
The structural problems of access to quality education, social security, land ownership, access to the sea, recreation, are some of the limitations that young small-scale artisanal fishermen face when starting their work activity, which causes enormous uncertainty. in thousands of young people who do not have the opportunity to develop with dignity through this way of life, which is small-scale artisanal fishing.
According to Gilberto Naranjo, member of CoopeTárcoles R.L, these obstacles prevent living conditions from being improved in the coastal areas of the country, especially when working as a small-scale artisanal fisherman.
No plan to promote small-scale artisanal fishing in an orderly manner
“In the country there is no plan to promote small-scale artisanal fishing in an orderly manner, young people who want to dedicate themselves to this activity have to see how they make their way by their own means by assembling their equipment,” said Naranjo.
Established in 1986, CoopeTárcoles R.L is a Cooperative based in the canton of Garabito (Province of Puntarenas) where the men and women that make it up are dedicated to small-scale fishing and where a Responsible Marine Fishing Area has been recognized under a model shared governance between the government and this fishing organization.
According to the State of the Nation study (2022), the country does not have a public policy that comprehensively and inter-institutionally addresses small-scale artisanal fishing, under a human rights approach.
It also points out that, in relation to women and young people, jobs promoted by institutions aimed at this sector do not respond to the cultural realities of fishing identities, without recognizing traditional knowledge and strengthening governance. Artisanal fishing is a way of life linked to food security, cultural and historical rescue, and efforts must be articulated.
Working with youth groups in small-scale artisanal fishing is a priority
For CoopeSoliDar R.L., working with youth groups in small-scale artisanal fishing is a priority for maintaining this activity. It is urgent to guarantee as a country that the needs of this sector are met, guaranteeing its incorporation into the workplace from security, education, recreation, health, among others.
The opening of decision-making spaces for young people and their participation in negotiation tables at all levels must be guaranteed. It is important to open spaces for intergenerational dialogue where experiences between young people and adults can be shared; as well as the application of new skills of young people, such as innovation and management of technologies.The above became clear at the III National Congress of Small-Scale Artisanal Mollusca Fishermen, held in Cahuita, in September 2023.
Important employment generator
Data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) indicate that in Costa Rica the small-scale artisanal fishing sector generates 14,800 jobs in capture operations, while the processing plants, fishmongers and marketing produce 3,216 jobs.
According to the recent study by the State of the Nation, it is estimated that the people linked along the artisanal fishing value chain amount to about 30,000 people.