Claudia Orlandini, Communications Officer with LIFE, spoke to The Fishing Daily about Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE) about who the people involved in life are, their aims and who can join the organisation for small-scale fishers 

life small-scale fishers

Claudia, who are the Low Impact Fishers of Europe and who do they represent?

“The Low Impact Fishers of Europe is an umbrella organisation representing the rights of those fishers who are small-scale and who are committed to reducing their impact on the environment.

“They are mostly under 12 metres using non-towed gears, the owner work aboard, they undertake mainly day trips, fish in a sustainable manner and provide an important contribution to their local economies. 

“LIFE stems from a movement that started in 2009, when the European Commission launched a public consultation with a view to reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). For years small-scale fishers had been excluded from decision-making process, witnessed the privatisation of fish stocks and suffered from the impacts of European and national policies designed by and for the interests of the large-scale fleet because, unlike their industrial competitors, they did not have lobbyists to represent their interests in decision-making fora. The reform of the CFP was therefore the right time to change the course of action and, following a Congress in Brussels (2012) and one in Santiago (2013), a core group of small-scale fishers’ representatives from 11 EU countries created the Low Impact Fishers of Europe, a European platform with a Board of Director composed by fishers and dedicated staff in Brussels and at regional level to represent their interests. 

“Over the past years LIFE has increased its membership from 4000 to over 10.000 individual fishers from 18 Member States, from the Black Sea to the Atlantic, from the Mediterranean to the Baltic and North Seas.  

“In addition, since October 2016 LIFE is a partner of AKTEA, the European Network of Women working in Fisheries and Aquaculture, supports its reinforcement and the promotion of gender equality in the fisheries sector.” 

What are the goals LIFE has set out for the future? 

“The first five years have a been key to lay the foundations of the organisation. In particular, LIFE reached excellent results in building relations with decision-makers at the Brussels and regional level and in bringing the interests of its members in the framework of the European fisheries policy agenda, working on a number of important matters such as stocks management including Bass, Cod, Bluefin Tuna the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the Control regulation, Art.17 and quota management, Producer Organisations, pulse fishing, co-management, labelling and marketing schemes. It raised its profile as the “go to” platform representing the voice of small-scale fishers.In parallel, LIFE was able to support its members on the ground, providing guidance on the development of their entrepreneurial ideas, promoting sustainable fishing through best practice exchanges and reinforcing formal and informal networks across Europe. In the future, we would like to work even more on capacity-building as we think it is important to empower our members to become “agents of change”. Small-scale fishers play a vital role for the fisheries sector and for the survival of local communities and with proper support they can regain the central role they deserve in European coastal economies.” 

How fishermen can join LIFE? 

“LIFE is an umbrella organisation and its members are fishers’ organisations. To become members, organisations should comply with our Declaration and Mission statement and fill in the online application form with the requested details: The application is then reviewed by LIFE’s Executive Secretary and Board of Directors. If necessary, clarifications can be requested or a visit on a spot is organised. If everything is compliant, organisations become members of LIFE and can benefit from its services. For the past five years LIFE membership has been free but current members are discussing about a potential symbolic contribution to support the operations of the platform that could be set up in the near future.” 

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