Artisanal fishing management in Guapi, Cauca: conservation, innovation, and entrepreneurship

Photo: Alfredo Valderruten & Sebastián Serna, 10th August 2021


Fishermen and researchers unite to develop a model of sustainable artisanal fishing management in Guapi, Cauca: conservation, innovation, and entrepreneurship


With the aims of conserving both the ecosystem and traditional knowledge, strengthening existing community work, and promoting innovation and applied science in the framework of the international project Econavipesca del Pacífico: ecosystem for sustainable fishing navigation in the municipality of Guapi, Cauca, researchers from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL), Medellín and Palmira sites, and from the Universidad del Cauca, visited the municipality of Guapi from 6th-14th August. Meetings were held between researchers, community representatives, and other allied local actors including authorities and institutions.


Four universities and three fishing communities and associations participate in Econavipesca del Pacífico, and it is financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The communities that contribute their knowledge on artisanal fishing are the Nueva Bellavista Association of the Eperara Siapidara indigenous community who fish in the Guapi River and estuary, and two Afro-Colombian communities who fish in the sea, the Guapi Association of Artisanal Fisheries Services (Aservipesca) and the Renacer Guapireño Fishermen’s Association. From the academic side, the project is led by the National University of Colombia (UNAL), Medellín and Palmira sites, the Universidad del Cauca and the Swedish universities Lund and KTH also participate.


The objective of the Pacífico Econavipesca project is to develop a sustainable artisanal fishing model that reduces the environmental, social, and economic impacts on the ecosystem caused by vessels’ use of fossil fuels and other resources that increase the costs of fishing operations. The project is developed through open innovation and co-creation methodologies, taking advantage of both the knowledge of the communities and scientific knowledge. Thus, it seeks to identify the value chain as the basis of a sustainable artisanal fishing model that systematically harmonizes the environmental, social and economic factors of the ecosystem; the construction of an innovative prototype of an eco-efficient vessel designed to be powered by renewable and hybrid energies; the strengthening of the fishing organizations and the consolidation of a sustainable artisanal fishing model based on the elaboration of business plans that allow the development of social enterprises within this model.


Dr Andrés Osorio, a UNAL researcher and CEMarin Executive Director, highlights that, in line with the mission and vision of the Center of Excellence, this project combines the conservation of both the ecosystem and ancestral knowledge, scientific innovation and long-term sustainable economic development long-term. CEMarin has a direct and indirect support role throughout the project, through the execution of resources and technical activities, and at the same time, several of the researchers are CEMarin researchers.


According to Dr Diana López, Director of the project for UNAL and a CEMarin researcher, “this visit allowed the consolidation of the team and began to establish ties between those of us who participate in the project, as well as creating a conducive environment for future work and understanding the objectives, methodology and commitments that we will use during its execution. We are very satisfied with the result of this first activity.”


For his part, Sebastián Loango, representative of the Renacer Guapireño Fishermen’s Association was grateful for the participation of all the actors involved and was sure that through reductions in the high costs associated with the use of fossil fuels in fishing activities, among other outcomes, this project will directly and indirectly benefit many people in the Guapi community, an area often forgotten by the country’s rulers.


Finally, Dr Jairo Tocancipá Falla of the Universidad del Cauca highlights the interdisciplinary and comprehensive nature of the group of professors, students and professionals from different areas, and the importance of sharing knowledge between indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities that tend to employ different fishing techniques and navigation systems, and the coming together of the various individuals and participating institutions, both national and international.


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