Celebrating Artisanal Fisheries: A Journey Towards Environmental Justice on Ilha do Cardoso (Brazil)



The year 2022 marked a pivotal moment for the global artisanal fishing community, as the United Nations declared it the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (AIPAA). This recognition aimed to emphasize the critical role artisanal fishing plays in the economy, food security, and job creation worldwide. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of artisanal fisheries, and how events like the Latin American and Caribbean Seminar on Ilha do Cardoso have fostered collaboration and progress in environmental justice for fishers and their communities. Despite its considerable impact, artisanal fishing often remains overlooked due to insufficient global data. However, artisanal fishing creates ten times more employment opportunities than industrial fishing for the same production. Recognizing the importance of artisanal fisheries is crucial for ensuring the well-being of countless communities dependent on it. To raise awareness and promote collaboration, the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) initiated a series of regional seminars with objectives including increased international engagement, deepened cooperation on food security and social development issues, and amplifying women’s voices in small-scale fisheries. Supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Bread for the World, these events took place in Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean in 2022, and in Africa in 2023.

Seizing the opportunity for dialogue and celebration, Instituto Linha D’água partnered with the caiçara community of Itacuruçá and Pereirinha on Ilha do Cardoso to host the Latin America & Caribbean regional seminar. This collaboration strengthened the region’s historical claims and showcased the community’s capability to manage local resources. Held in November 2022, the seminar brought together around 60 participants, including representatives of artisanal fishing from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries and four Brazilian regions. To facilitate communication, simultaneous translation into Portuguese, Spanish, and English was provided.

Educommunication and the ERC Tradition Project

An exciting aspect of the event was the Educommunication activity, supported by the ERC Tradition project. This initiative aimed to document the seminar and disseminate its outcomes to a broader audience, capturing the essence of the discussions and the vibrant atmosphere. A video was produced, highlighting the key moments and sharing participants’ experiences.

Workshop video edited in a collaborative approach (Educommunication activity led by João Lazaro).

Outcomes and Achievements

The seminar resulted in the Cananeia Charter, which outlines critical issues in various areas such as education, health, food safety, management, social security, and environmental protection. The charter highlights the importance of artisanal fishers in global food security and calls for action to address their needs and challenges.

The event also promoted regional collaboration among global movements like the World Forum of Fish Harvesters & Fish Workers (WFF), World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), and União Latinoamericana de Pesca Artesanal (ULAPA), as well as national movements such as the Movement of Fishermen and Craft Fisherwomen (MPP) and Confrem.

The struggle for territory, survival, work, and cultural preservation is a common thread among artisanal fishing communities worldwide. Their voices must be heard and included in devising solutions to maintain the health of marine and coastal environments. Acknowledging the vital role of artisanal fishers in providing food and sustaining livelihoods is an essential step toward achieving environmental justice. The Ilha do Cardoso seminar serves as a testament to the power of collaboration and dialogue in raising awareness and addressing the challenges faced by artisanal fishing communities. As we continue to work towards a more inclusive and environmentally just future, it is crucial to remember that the environment is not only made up of natural elements but also encompasses the people who depend on it and their needs.

As historians and researchers interested in environmental justice, we can play a vital role in amplifying the voices of these communities, advocating for their rights, and contributing to the development of policies and practices that support their sustainable livelihoods. By doing so, we can help ensure a more equitable and just future for artisanal fishers and the environments they rely on.

Want more information on the workshop? check this blog piece on Linha D’Água Institute’s website.