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Participatory and effective governance: the paradigm and projection of Calamasur in the SPRFMO

Having science guide fisheries management and ensuring artisanal fishers participate in and benefit from this approach is not a pipe dream; it makes a difference, as demonstrated by a group of experts in the field.

The case of the giant squid fishery and the role played by the Committee for the Sustainable Management of Giant Squid (CALAMASUR) in its conservation are the focus of analysis in an article published by five specialists in international fisheries titled "Involving artisanal fishers and processors from coastal states in SPRFMO discussions leads to agenda changes towards science-based management."

Given that squid is a species that inhabits the entire coast of the southern Pacific, in high seas and exclusive economic zones of different countries, its management and the sustainability of its stock depend on the management measures adopted at national and international levels. For the latter, there is the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO), an intergovernmental organization that seeks to conserve fishery resources, safeguarding the marine ecosystems in which they are found.

The importance and weight of the measures dictated by SPRFMO for the giant squid fishery are key. But who defines these measures and how are they approved and adopted? The governance framework of SPRFMO includes all participants in its various bodies (Technical and Compliance Committee, Scientific Committee, etc.). Hence the importance of involving an actor like Calamasur, which not only contributes the experience of four countries (Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru) but also the viewpoints of its members in their various roles within the value chain (artisanal, industrial, and processing), who are tasked with implementing these measures.

The article highlights a fundamental fact: "artisanal and small-scale fishers rarely participate in regional decision-making forums"; therefore, the effectiveness of proposed measures may be limited and even delegitimized. In the case of Calamasur and its participation in SPRFMO meetings as an observer since 2018, the positive impact of this group on the agenda of SPRFMO has been proven by generating greater attention to squid and the need to reduce fishing effort for this species.

Since 2019, Calamasur has continuously submitted position papers and proposals for management measures to be considered and adopted by SPRFMO. The Committee is recognized as an actor championing various issues, such as: reducing fishing effort; increasing controls on distant water fleets, which systematically switch off satellite monitoring systems within the convention area and adjacent waters; implementing measures to strengthen the regulation and effective control of transshipments; increasing observer coverage on board, and recognizing the fishing effort exerted by artisanal vessels of coastal countries, allowing them to be included in the list of vessels of SPRFMO.

The study shows how Calamasur has increased the debate on giant squid in SPRFMO through a methodology that qualitatively demonstrates the number of mentions of keywords like "squid" and its variants in over 500 SPRFMO documents. Finally, it highlights the results and benefits of the participation of artisanal and small-scale fishers in regional decision-making spaces, such as SPRFMO, and underscores the need for artisanal fishing organizations to organize and exert real and effective participation.


Reducing participation gaps in bodies like SPRFMO, the authors point out, is a challenge that begins by establishing participatory governance frameworks but requires complementation with resources and willingness to guarantee conditions that make the right to participation and decision-making a reality on equal terms.

The article is available on the CALAMASUR website:


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