Impact story: Let’s talk fishing
2 April 2020 - Cvijeta Susnik Akmadzic

Sustainable fishing tourism

At Impact Hub Zagreb you find the office PEAK DMC, a division of the Intrepid Group, the world’s largest adventure travel company. I was happy to have a chat with Sonja Prvan, assistant contracting manager East Europe at PEAK DMC, about her recent travel to Greece together with croatian fisherman, whose observations are now more than ever very insightful for what the future of tourism will be after the current global crisis with covid-19.

First, let’s see what sustainable fishing tourism actually is. On wwf.org loads of information on this topic can be found, along with what needs to be done and what they are doing. Basically, WWF defines fishing tourism as “only intended for professional fishers, allowing the diversification of their activities while continuing their traditional trade. This alternative income stream should reduce the intensity of fishing activities, contribute to sustainable management of fishery resources, and promote the cultural heritage of artisanal fishing.”

Sonja attended a workshop in Andros, the northernmost island of the Greek Cyclades archipelago. PEAK DMC, at the moment, is in the process of making and pricing Intrepid trips for 2021. and they plan on including fishing tourism activity in one of their trips, a strategy that might become more relevant in a post-pandemic world, specially because it allows diversification of revenue streams for fishermen.

The croatian fisherman came from Lastovo island and Telaščica – Nature Park, where fishing tourism is already included in their activities and thus were able to share their knowledge and experiences. Croatian fisherman motivated the local greek fisherman to obtain their license, showcasing that in the end, even though it is costly, it does produce a positive effect, as well as high income. Fishermen, apart from their license, need to invest greatly in their ships, equipment, health and safety necesseties. 

The beauracracy in Greece poses quite a challange for the local fishermen, this is why the workshop was hosted by The Ministry of Rural Development of Food, WWF Greece, a Naval arhitect engineer and Fisheries offiicers. The discussion was held mostly about Fishing tourism regulatory framework in Greece and further fiscal instruments for fishing tourism.

Andros island is a marine protected area (MPA), hence fishing tourism poses a high interest and purpose in this region. Sonja says “it is a fact that fishermen usually throw  4-5km fishing nets daily and by implementing fishing tourism they just demonstrate with a few hundred meters of fishing nets. This leads to reducing fishing effort and increases the sustainability of fishing. It also provides fishermen with an alternative source of income and for our travellers it is a sustainable and local experience.”

It is wonderful to see how networks work together, how communities learn from each other, how everybody is connected and that being sustainable and eco friendly is slowly, but surely becoming everyone’s concern and desire. Tourism industry is already being impacted during this time and according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, it is estimated that once the outbreak is under control it would take up to 10 months for the industry to recover. Diversification of business models that take into account nature conservation could prove effective and beneficial for the future of tourism.