World Fisheries Day 2021

Fair Trade Fisher Associations in Maluku and North Maluku recently celebrated World Fisheries Day (WFD) 2021, along with the rest of fishery communities around the globe. This year, they called out to fellow small-scale fishers to consider taking a one-day break from fishing each week, or a total of 52 days a year. This effort is intended to help reduce fish mortality, allowing more time for fish to grow and breed, to help naturally restore fish stocks in the sea.

Data collected by Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI) Foundation so far indicates that the size of tuna caught in the last few years has been in decline, with fishers needing to travel further out, resulting in longer fishing days and increased fuel costs. These signs of declining catch volumes need to be monitored, especially by small-scale fishers, who are living with many limitations as is. Many of them have no alternative source of income; they cannot afford to keep paying the high operational cost of fishing only to return with too little catch, if any.

The globally commemorated day has also become MDPI’s annual awareness-raising festivity; from a series of school talks to information and data-sharing with fishers, along with a variety of fun events to keep the community entertained, while advocating for healthier ocean ecosystems. These grassroot activities are carried out across all MDPI project sites, spanning two to three days leading up to the official day-of on November 21st, involving all fisher associations that we work alongside with.

This year, “Marimoi” Fair Trade Fisher Association (FA) in Ternate, North Maluku, organized a public talk and beach cleanup, attended by local government representatives and other community stakeholders, before visiting the local elementary school. Marimoi FA had their first event on November 19th with a presentation at their local assembly hall, providing an overview on yearly catch data and other important issues related to tuna fisheries. The next day was spent at their children’s elementary school to reiterate the universal problem of trash in the ocean and other marine debris, and to introduce various Endangered, Threatened, and Protected (ETP) species such as dolphins, whales, turtles, and manta rays, using various education material including coloring sheets, before concluding the day with an exciting competition. Watch some quick reels on our Instagram page.

In other parts of North Maluku, Fair Trade FAs on Bisa and Sanana islands took this occasion to encourage their fisher communities to play a more active role in practicing sustainable fisheries including, but not limited to, keeping the ocean clean and protecting endangered wildlife. To keep everyone engaged throughout the celebratory weekend, they also carried out a series of fun and creative events, including a papaya tree-climbing competition in the water and tug-of-war using rowboats, plus an adorable and inspiring Tree of Hope illustration created by local pupils.

Beyond Fair Trade fishers, World Fisheries Day was also celebrated by MDPI beneficiaries in Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi. Tuna fishers in East Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, planted mangroves on the coast of their village, before spending the evening watching environmental movies together. Over in Bone, South Sulawesi, fisher wives and children teamed up for an ocean-themed drawing competition, while fisher wives in North Minahasa, North Sulawesi, immersed themselves in a blindfolded game of fish identification and the highly anticipated fish cooking competition.

In Maluku, MDPI works with Fair Trade FAs in Buru and Seram. In addition to routine talks focusing on sustainable fisheries and information sharing among fishers, they took on a new approach for this year’s outreach efforts. Using art as a way to educate, members of Fair Trade FAs got together and created a mural as their campaign medium in three of their villages.

Throughout this year’s WFD celebrations, MDPI was supported by Fair Trade fishers in ensuring that important issues and messages are conveyed to the community, specifically regarding the critical importance of healthy ocean ecosystems and fish stocks for sustainable fisheries. Happy people, many fish!