As we celebrate World Fisheries Day on November 21, we are reflecting on the values that connect us with oceans and fishermen. It is a day that commemorates the creation of a global organization, the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers (WFF), which was started in New Delhi, India on November 21, 1997.
On that date, fishermen from eighteen countries left their boats and traveled to New Delhi, India. Strangers, bonded by the oceans, met to establish a new organization. The creation of the WFF was founded on the common principles of sustaining fisheries, sustaining fishing communities, advocating for social justice and preserving the cultural history of fish harvesters and fish workers. Fishing representatives from 18 countries signed a declaration advocating for a global mandate of sustainable fishing practices and policies. The representatives from the United States who participated in this milestone event were Angela Sanfilippo from Gloucester, MA; Barbara Stickel from Morro Bay, CA and myself.
The values that are expressed by the oceans and fishermen have an extremely significant influence on the quality of life for humans. These values also have an equally significant role in the success of the numerous ocean networks and natural ocean cycles that provide life for the fisheries.
Cultural values are based on the knowledge and skills that have been traditional for generations. These values have evolved into customary practices. Cultural values are the foundation for the existence of coastal communities.
Religious values are based on the religious beliefs that exist in coastal communities. In many coastal communities, religion is an important factor in providing food for the community and respecting the fisheries. There are many examples of religious traditions found in the scriptures.
The economic values are determined by the benefits that are provided by the fisheries. The benefits produced by economic values vary from community to community. Some are measured by financial values and some are measured by reliance on nutritional values.
Environmental values are necessary for the future of the fisheries, fishing families and coastal communities. Sustaining environmental values for the fisheries and oceans are extremely essential. Without this value, all other values become more difficult to achieve and maintain.
These values are still the core of the principles that created World Fisheries Day in New Delhi, India. Fishermen navigate the oceans using these values to bring us a valuable, natural resource — seafood. Understanding and respecting these values and each other are vital for the celebration of World Fisheries Day.