We are currently witnessing an important process of enclosing the world's oceans and fisheries resources, including marine, coastal and continental fishing. Ocean grabbing is occurring primarily through policies, laws and practices that are (re) defining and (re) allocating access, use and control of fishery resources away from small-scale fishermen and women and their communities, often with little concern for negative consequences for the environment. In this process, customary and communal fisheries tenure rights systems and existing use and management practices are being ignored and ultimately lost. Thus, ocean grabbing means that powerful economic actors are taking control of crucial decisions around fisheries, such as the power to decide how and for what purposes marine resources are used, conserved and managed, now and in the world. future. Consequently, these powerful actors, whose main interest is obtaining benefits, are assuming gradual control of both fishery resources and the benefits of their use.
Some of the major institutions that are paving the way for ocean grabbing have adopted human rights-based language and argue that their regulatory reform initiatives stem from the need to ensure universal food security and eradicate poverty. However, many examples from around the world demonstrate that the basic principle that guides reform processes is a blind belief in market solutions that are directly at odds with the wishes and demands of representative civil society organizations.
Ocean grabbing is not only related to fishing policies. It is a phenomenon that is unfolding around the world and in a wide range of contexts, such as maritime and coastal marine waters, inland waters, rivers and lakes, deltas and wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs. The means by which fishing communities are being stripped of the resources on which they have traditionally depended are also taking many forms. It is produced through mechanisms as diverse as (inter) national fisheries governance and trade and investment policies, delimited terrestrial, coastal and marine conservation areas and closed fishing, (eco) tourism and energy policies. , financial speculation and the expanding activities of the global food and fisheries industry, including large-scale aquaculture. Meanwhile, ocean grabbing is entering a radically new and exacerbated phase with the emergence in 2012 of the Global Partnership for the Oceans, an initiative led by the World Bank that seeks to privatize property rights regimes over resources. aquatic systems and top-down tax and market-based conservation models.
Driven by capital and its profit motive, the current wave of enclosures targeting fisheries and the resources of the world's oceans and inland waters is taking place in the same context as global land grabbing. . The latter refers to the recent and current boom in changes in the use of land and its associated resources (such as water), which are shifting from small-scale and labor-intensive uses - such as subsistence agriculture - to uses large-scale, capital-intensive, and resource-depleting - such as industrial monocultures, raw material extraction, and large-scale hydropower generation - embedded in a growing infrastructure of global industries and markets. It is also taking place in the more general context of changing global economic, financial, climate and environmental dynamics. As a result, a fundamental revaluation of natural resources is currently taking place. This revaluation aims to strip land, water, fisheries and forests and their related resources of the ties that link them with social functions and cultural meanings, and a governance rooted in the principles of human rights, to direct them towards the narrow economic functions that require market-oriented, privatization-based approaches.
Despite the increasing attention this general phenomenon is drawing, the history of fishing continues to go unnoticed and is largely neglected in academic and activist circles, as well as in the media. And despite this, ocean grabbing in its various forms is undermining the rights and aspirations of millions of people who depend on small-scale inland and marine fisheries around the world. The urgent need for greater and more specific attention to ocean grabbing can be illustrated by a few words from Olivier de Schutter, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, than in a speech to the General Assembly of The UN stressed that “the 'grabbing of the oceans', through extremely opaque access agreements that harm artisanal fishermen (…) and the diversion of resources away from local populations, can represent as serious a threat as the' land grabbing '”.
This guide addresses the most important topics about the mechanisms and impacts of ocean grabbing.