Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance: 2017 Food Sovereignty Prize Recipient

Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, NAMA, could not be honored with the Food Sovereignty Prize at a better time. An overheated ocean and atmosphere are causing catastrophic weather events nearly weekly. The delicate worldwide equilibrium of climate and ecosystem is at risk.

In this context, family fishermen and other small-scale fisher folk have emerged as key actors in a medium- and long-term reversal of the depletion of fishing stocks and the ecological collapse of the ocean. Mother Nature is extremely resilient, up to a point, and has responded quickly and favorably to even modest restraints made to curb overfishing. And so NAMA has pulled out all the stops to vehemently question and protest the exclusionary privatization and manipulation of fishing quota allowances.

NAMA’s guiding concept, “who fishes matters!” is also a call to action, and the net their work has cast into coastal fishing communities has harvested an abundance of riches: a rapidly growing network of fishing members and allies. But NAMA does not stop there, also becoming a critical member of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, educating the “land lubbers” among the farmworkers, farmers and urban agriculturalists about the commonalities between land- and sea-based struggles. They have enriched our concept of food sovereignty while sharing strategies for mobilization of their base and timely consciousness-raising interventions in the face of their adversaries. The stress on the importance of fishing locally and spreading the wealth is “thrown down” in a way that is delicious and enlightening (via their creative Seafood Throwndown cooking competitions!).

NAMA trims the sailboat in ways very favorable to a sustainable future of fishing. They walk their talk and practice solidarity with all of us restricted to our shorelines and creek and river beds, our spigots and sprinklers; those of us who find shade in our diverse woodlots and old growth while the NAMA crowd stands happily under rippling sails in the cool breeze of phytoplankton and humpback whale breeding grounds. Long live family fishermen!! Long live local fisheries! Long live food sovereignty! No to market privatization of fish quotas! Yes to a democratization of fishery policy! Farming is to agrarianas fishing is to aquarian; we give gratitude to NAMA for leading us to the Age of Aquarius!