Portuguese eNGOs fishing for Partnerships and Inspiration on UK trip

Representatives of PONG-Pesca - Platform of Portuguese Non-Government Organization (NGO) on Fisheries - went on a trip to London, between 13 and 15th of July 2016 to meet UK environmental NGOs (eNGOs). PONG-Pesca is composed of eight eNGOs, namely APECE, GEOTA, LPN, OMA, Quercus ANCN, Sciaena, SPEA and WWF Portugal*. Tereza Fonseca, a member of the PONG-Pesca coordination team, wrote this report about the trip.

On the first day the Portuguese party visited the New Economics Foundation (NEF) office. Whilst there, a number of engaging projects were presented:

  • “The Blue New Deal Initiative” – Fernanda Balata. The BND is an initiative which works with fragile coastal communities in the UK, illustrating positive and success stories by these communities.
  • “Applying socio-economic and ecological criteria to fishing opportunities” – Chris Williams. This project focuses on the European seabass fishery in UK waters (and Scottish Nephrops fishery), considering the criteria for the allocation of fishing opportunities (article 17 of the Common Fisheries Policy, CFP).
  • “The New Economics Organizers Network” – Daniel Vockins. NEON is a network of individuals from various organizations which works progressively in favour of a common good, connecting individuals and increasing their knowledge in economics and the organizational capacity.
  • LINK “Bringing the eNGO sector together on marine (& freshwater) issues” – Sarah Stuart-Smith. LINK is a platform of organizations and associations which aim to engage and empower their 45 members by collaborating with the various capacities of each member-organization. Their 2016 marine priorities includes the campaign on MPA designation.
  • “The Implementation of the CFP & PEW´s European Work” – Andrew Clayton (PEW Charitable Trust). PEW hopes to end overfishing in European waters.

The second day started with a visit to the Zoological Society of London – ZSL – where the group had the opportunity to speak with ZSL collaborators regarding a number of initiatives. The #OneLess campaign, presented by Rachel Sharp, aims to make London the first European capital city free of plastic single-use bottles. It would be interesting to see how national ENGOs could boost a similar initiative in Portugal!

A citizen science project with the European eel is being carried out along the Thames. The ZSL educational program team spoke to some of the Portuguese members. At the aquarium, I got to be close up to the seahorses and corals. Some of the seahorses at the ZSL are originally from the Ria Formosa, Portugal! During our visit, a very unique moment occurred when my colleagues and I fed three giraffes.

After lunch, was time for a boat trip! Amy Pryor from the Thames Estuary Partnership (TEP) talked about the importance and sustainable management of the Thames. According to TEP, London is a coastal city linked to the sea by the river. The value-based approach was also mentioned. The evening ended with a walk along the river bank and dinner.

On the third and last day of the trip, the Gulbenkian UK office was the final work destination and host to various UK initiatives:

  • Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE) – Jeremy Percy. LIFE has the potential to engage stakeholders in fisheries management. The sustainable motto is “Right gear, right place, right time”!
  • Marine Conservation Society – Sue Ranger. MCS tries to improve the relationship people have with the ocean, through education and engagement. A number of interesting projects (which will require more insight in the near future!) include Sea Search (volunteer divers), Sustainable seafood (fish online) and Sea Champions. Sea Champions hope to identify individual stakeholders (locally) that can engage communities to the marine conservation aspects.
  • Community Voice Consulting – Gabriel Cumming. This method guarantees the inclusion of all stakeholders through interviews. The process includes an interview analysis and deliberative public meetings.

During our visit, I learnt new methodologies and projects to engage citizens and local communities in marine affairs and will be useful to collaborate more closely with fishermen and other European NGOs. This trip empowered the members of PONG-Pesca, individually and collectively. The challenge to care for and create healthier relationships with our oceans has been accepted!

PONG-Pesca would like to thank the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, namely Catarina, Louisa and Manuel, for this opportunity to connect with such inspiring people and initiatives.