“Back to the Future!”


"Back to the Future" at Marevivo, in Rome

"Back to the Future" at Marevivo, in Rome

The Sea is often cited as immutable, in spite of its volubility. Sea is eternal, and Civilization, risen on the sea, has always been based on skills and resources as immutable as the sea itself..

Thousands of generations have strenuously grabbed the secrets of fishing, of boatbuilding, of navigation. And thousands of generations have jealously saved and passed each other through hard training the secrets to make a living by the sea.

But at Sea, like on earth, industrial models for mass production have been imposed, and through the XXth century have upturned the world of fishing, a world used to survive, unprepared to manage resources ever considered unlimited.

The result has been devastating. Fleets of industrial fishing boats have swept away the tiny family owned coastal fishing boats, turning fishermen into salaried crew members, and then depleted the fishing stock to the pint that fishing is now a losing enterprise, unprofitable without the heavy government incentives it keeps getting.

The cultural “genocide” of coastal communities, effectively fulfilled by property speculation and tourism “development”, could be irreversible, as well as the loss of a source of food that until the ’70’s was talked about as the solution to the worldwide problem of famine.

Now we have learnt from our mistakes, and the development model that has proved wrong and disastrous for us and for the planet that sustain our lives, must be discarded. Fish farming and sustainable, selective fishing are the new ways to bring Sea and fishing back as resources. But it is easy to see that they are long known ways, and to realize that the most effective way to enter the future is to learn from the ways of the past. The small coastal fishing, that has always been a mere subsistence economy, is now a model of environmentally sustainable development, a possible source of financial and occupational growth for myriads of family level micro enterprises. Fish farming, tightly ruled and managed, can provide great quantities of fish for food and trade, as required by the modern market, giving relief to the oceanic fish stock while developing a new fishing model that could exploit them more rationally than the one who ravaged the oceans for a century.

The “Settimana Europea della Pesca”, from June 4 to 12, 2011, has involved more than 100 environmentalist groups in a series of events, to make the public aware and call European Union to a new fishing management policy.

In Italy, beside the press coverage of the topic, the association Marevivo has organized a photographic exhibition and an evening of music and cuisine on a barge moored on the Tiber river, in the heart of Rome. I took part to it with pride, meeting a constructive and enthusiastic atmosphere, with wonderful and tireless people, fully aware that they can build the future.