Welcome to our series "Portraits" that pays a tribute to the impactful and often visionary work of the organisations we support.
Our "Portraits" tell the true stories of the beneficiaries our partners stand for. By presenting their lives, aspirations and challenges, we want to raise their voices so they can become an example and inspiration for social change.
Sustainable Fishery Trade, Peru
"Fish," he said, "I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends."
What a paradoxical philosophy is enshrined in these lines from Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea! You love fish but you kill it, you respect nature but you exploit it. Yet, it truly expresses the sentiment of those who survive thanks to the sea. People like Paco and his community.
Paco has worked as a fisherman since the age of 12, when his father taught him to free dive to catch seafood. Today, Paco is president of a fishermen's cooperative in Pisco, Peru.
After 43 years of fishing, he is deeply concerned about the sustainability of fishing practices and the necessity to preserve artisanal fishing as the main livelihood for his village. In a country where poverty is rife, particularly in remote areas, small fishing communities are no exception. Paco knows that his community can only overcome their harsh socio-economic conditions if marine species are given enough time to reproduce before they are collected for human consumption.
But how to create a profitable business model that is also sustainable for the marine environment?
Sustainable Fishery Trade (SFT) helped Paco's cooperative find a solution to this problem. SFT is a social enterprise that pays small-scale fishermen above market prices, with the caveat that marine resources are fished sustainably and adhere to conservation principles.
Thanks to SFT's support, Paco's cooperative started to farm scallops in open waters and fish them sustainably, respecting their reproduction cycle. This resulted in an uptick in the volume of seafood that the cooperative could sell. SFT also helped them connect with retailers who are interested in buying sustainable and traceable products, thereby increasing the cooperative's clientele.
"We decided to make a living out of the sea, which is why we need to treat it with care and respect. Selling to buyers who value our product is the best way to care for our future. If we do not preserve the ocean, who is going to do it? We have to do it, yes or yes!" says Paco.
SFT is one of the social enterprises that the Trafigura Foundation is supporting through its partnership with NESsT, an accelerator of social ventures that generate fair jobs for people most in need. The successful development of its model in Peru convinced us to support SFT's expansion to Chile, another country where small fishing communities struggle to earn a dignified living.
Discover more about Sustainable Fishery Trade and NESsT here.
© Ana Sotelo for NESsT