> THE TIMOTHY SCHWARTZ ARCHIVE

Post Sandy Fishing Assessment for Grand Anse and Nippes

  • This study responds to a tender from The German Red Cross (GRC) in partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Haitian Red Cross (HRC). The objective was to help inform post hurricane Sandy Livelihoods/Food Security interventions to fishing communities in the Departments of the Grand Anse and Nippes.
  • One in twelve men in Haiti fish; at least 90% can be classified as artisanal fishing, meaning they are dependent on simple non-mechanized fishing technologies and local, scavenged or inexpensive imported materials. Artisanal fishermen are linked to an equal number of market women who also use simple technology in drying of fish and transporting them to local markets. The advantages of the artisanal fishing chain is that because members of fishing households typically include both fisherman and market woman it allows households to profit from as many as four points in the value added chain (sale, processing, transport, and resale). The chain also provides a much needed source of protein to inland populations. The disadvantage of artisanal fishing is that it focuses on the shallow coastal shelf, now so heavily exploited that Reef Check cited Haiti as having the world’s most overfished reefs; in the past 30 years the number of artisanal fisherman in Haiti has increased 500 percent.
  • Ten percent or less of Haitian fishermen use modern industrially-manufactured equipment to fish offshore: these include imported fiberglass boats, outboard motors, heavy duty monofilament line, lures, GPS devices, fish finders, and FADs (fish aggregating devices: platforms anchored to the bottom of the ocean floor at depths of 1,000 feet and that attract large offshore predator fish that fetch high prices on the urban market). The modern offshore fishermen are linked to male buyers who sell to restaurants in the city. The primary advantage to this production and market chain is much larger catches and higher sale prices. Drawbacks include high investment costs, dependency on imported technologies, poor local infrastructure for cold storage, poor transport infrastructure, distant and fickle urban markets that can be disrupted by economic, political or meteorological calamities, all of which make it fragile and susceptible to interference. Moreover, investment in the industry has come overwhelming from foreign aid agencies who have underwritten the costs of boats, motors, equipment, installation of FADs, cold storage and even access to the buyers. NGO use of male dominated fisherman associations has also initiated a process of supplanting women as the traditional processors and sellers of fish. In this way the new market chain not only mitigates against female involvement in the economy, it cuts impoverished households out of the processing, transport, and resale links of the market chain; and it redirects fish away from inland populations who need protein. Moreover, the precipitous decline in billfish that long line fisherman from industrial countries catch with the assistance of FADs (fish aggregating devices) has led to an outcry from conservationists and makes supporting the industry a politically unfavorable undertaking, especially for benevolent organizations such as the Red Crosses.