Fish on the move in Chile

A group of fishers unload a box of hake on a dock in Chile.

In December, our team members Iván and Diego were in Chile to witness a momentous event: the journey of a crate of fish from San Antonio to Santiago. This one small transaction may be only a 70 mile journey for the fish, but it reflects a giant step in our work to test new models to support fishing communities and sustainable fisheries around the world.

Chile has one of the world’s longest coastlines, with over six hundred small fishing communities running artisanal operations that support their families and livelihoods. These fishers catch fresh hake and other species, which they sell at local markets. As individual fishers with variable catch volumes, they have limited bargaining power in terms of where and to whom they sell. Too often, logistics and inequitable power dynamics in the supply chain lock these fishers out of better markets, and limit their ability to make a sustainable living.

Since 2018, we have been collaborating with Chilean caletas (fishing coves) and open air market vendors, designing systems that would allow local fishers to pool their catch and sell it directly to open air market vendors. Along with building business capacity and collaboration models, this project aims to ensure artisanal fishers and vendors can trade in high quality product, maintain more control over supply chains, and keep more money in their communities.

In December, after months dedicated to business plans and MOUs, we were thrilled to see the the project put in motion with the first direct sale. This hake catch, pulled from the water in San Antonio, was transferred directly to open air market vendors in Santiago, bypassing some of the inefficiencies of the traditionally longer supply chain. We were there to see it and are pleased to provide this visual recap of the event for you! For more information about our work in Chile, or with small scale fisheries around the globe, please contact Iván at igreco@futureoffish.org.

Diego (front) with German (back), the San Antonio fishers' leader, in the fishers' beach office. German is about to start declaring the landings of the sample box set go to Santiago, in the direct-selling pilot.

 

The DA (Declaración Artesanal) document. This is the document that informs SERNAPESCA (Chile's national fisheries service) about the declared fishing from an artisanal boat.

 

Joel, one of the fishers involved in the project in San Antonio, landing his hake. This box was filled right next to the landing place — fish cannot get fresher than this! This is the box that will go directly to Santiago for the pilot.

 

German covering the box with ice, to ensure it arrive fresh to Santiago (a journey that takes about 1.5 hours).

 

Jacqueline, member of the Feria y Mar Cooperative (of open air market fish vendors), receiving the box from German himself. It's exciting to see fisher and vendor doing direct business — even though it's only for one box of fish at this stage!

 

The San Antonio box, already in the hands of Jaquelines assistant.

 

German with Jacqueline the vendor at her cart, comparing his fresh hake (left) against an industrially sourced one. The freshness of the artisanal fish is evident!

 

What a process! After this successful pilot there are a bunch more transactions on the horizon, and we look forward to each one running more smoothly than the last. Stay tuned!

 

Published January 28, 2020

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