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A Pan-European Platform of Committed Low Impact Small-Scale Fishers

As a platform of grassroots organizations, LIFE represents the interests of 33 organizations in 15 EU Member States associating around 10,000 small scale fishers across all European sea basins from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

We are an association set up and run by small- scale fishers (SSF) committed to:

Fishing in a low impact manner

Transforming low impact fishing into an attractive and economically viable profession

Sustaining fish stocks and protecting the marine environment

Transforming the food system into a fairer and more sustainable one

Contributing to prosperous coastal communities

This commitment has been expressed in LIFE’S Statutes, in  different declarations, and with specific proposals on the implementation of the EU Common Fisheries Policy:

Partners & Donors

Board of Directors

The strategic direction of LIFE is developed and overseen by an elected board of directors of working fishers from LIFE’s three regions.

Baltic and North Sea

Wolfgang Albrech

Wolfgang Albrech

Katarzyna Stepanowska

Katarzyna Stepanowska

Bengt Larsson

Bengt Larsson

Atlantic Sea

Seamus Bonner

Seamus Bonner

Treasurer

Gwen Pennarun

Treasurer
Fernando Gutierrez

Fernando Gutierrez

Mediterranean and Black Sea

President

Christian Decugis

President
Bertrand Cazalet

Bertrand Cazalet

Secretary

Luis Rodriguez

Secretary
Federico Gelmi

Federico Gelmi

Team

The members of our team are based in several European countries. We are dedicated professionals who combine a high level of expertise with a strong dedication for small-scale fishers and seas. We’re passionate about the work we do.

Based in Brussels, with over 40 years of experience in fisheries, including in small-scale fisheries advocacy worldwide. He represents the interests of LIFE’s members in the European Institutions. He is also responsible for the smooth running of the organisation. Contact: deputy@lifeplatform.eu

Executive Secretary, Brian O'Riordan

Based in Brussels, with over 40 years of experience in fisheries, including in small-scale fisheries advocacy worldwide. He represents the interests of LIFE’s members in the European Institutions. He is also responsible for the smooth running of the organisation. Contact: deputy@lifeplatform.eu
Formerly Policy & Communications Officer for The Fisheries Secretariat in Stockholm. Based in Sweden, Christian Coordinates LIFE’s activities in the Baltic and North Seas.  Contact: bans@lifeplatform.eu

Baltic and North Sea Coordinator, Christian Tsangarides

Formerly Policy & Communications Officer for The Fisheries Secretariat in Stockholm. Based in Sweden, Christian Coordinates LIFE’s activities in the Baltic and North Seas.  Contact: bans@lifeplatform.eu
Based in Barcelona, with a background in marine biology and practical experience in project management and supporting small-scale fishers organisations, Marta is in charge of all matters relating to the Med.  Contact: med@lifeplatform.eu

Mediterranean Coordinator, Marta Cavallé

Based in Barcelona, with a background in marine biology and practical experience in project management and supporting small-scale fishers organisations, Marta is in charge of all matters relating to the Med.  Contact: med@lifeplatform.eu
Based in Southern Brittany, she has the sea and fishing in her blood. Charlène is actively supporting grass roots initiatives in fishing communities where she lives, and championing their cause locally and more widely. Contact: communications@lifeplatform.eu

Marketing and Communications Officer, Charlène Jouanneau

Based in Southern Brittany, she has the sea and fishing in her blood. Charlène is actively supporting grass roots initiatives in fishing communities where she lives, and championing their cause locally and more widely. Contact: communications@lifeplatform.eu
A biologist and qualified seafarer, with experience aboard small-scale fishing vessels, Macarena is based in Southern Spain working with communities and managing projects on the ground.

Project Manager for the Alboran Sea, Macarena Molina

A biologist and qualified seafarer, with experience aboard small-scale fishing vessels, Macarena is based in Southern Spain working with communities and managing projects on the ground.
A founding Director of LIFE, and long time commercial fisherman with significant experience of representing fishermen at every level. Based in the UK and advising on all issues, great and small.

Senior Advisor, Jeremy Percy

A founding Director of LIFE, and long time commercial fisherman with significant experience of representing fishermen at every level. Based in the UK and advising on all issues, great and small.
Marine Biologist from Cyprus working closely with the Pan Cypriot Association of Professional Coastal Fishermen, a member association of LIFE.

Project Manager for Cyprus, Antonis Petrou

Marine Biologist from Cyprus working closely with the Pan Cypriot Association of Professional Coastal Fishermen, a member association of LIFE.
Born in a family of fishers, she often accompanies her husband on the boat. Marthese is LIFE’s point of contact with Maltese fishing communities.

Marthese Degabriele

Born in a family of fishers, she often accompanies her husband on the boat. Marthese is LIFE’s point of contact with Maltese fishing communities.
Manuela Trovato has a background in economic anthropology and local economic development and is experienced in participatory approaches. Manuela supports grassroots initiatives in Southern Italy.

Project Manager in Southern Italy, Manuela Trovato

Manuela Trovato has a background in economic anthropology and local economic development and is experienced in participatory approaches. Manuela supports grassroots initiatives in Southern Italy.
Annya Crane is a researcher in maritime anthropology, she believes in interdisciplinarity to understand the challenges faced by small-scale fishing communities and marine conservation. She supports LIFE’s work in Menorca.

Project Manager and Communication officer in the Balearics, Annya Crane

Annya Crane is a researcher in maritime anthropology, she believes in interdisciplinarity to understand the challenges faced by small-scale fishing communities and marine conservation. She supports LIFE’s work in Menorca.

Timeline

  • 2009-2012

    How it all started

    The seeds of LIFE were sown in the lead up to the 2012 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Thanks to several initiatives aimed at giving small-scale fishers a say in this landmark process, small-scale fisher representatives were able to come together and participate in the “Green Paper” consultation process in 2009 and 2010, and to form alliances with many like minded organizations.  

    Together they called for those who fish in the most sustainable manner to be granted priority access to fishery resources, and for a fair reallocation of fishing rights to smaller scale fishers.

  • 2012-2013

    LIFE IS FORMALLY LAUNCHED

    LIFE was launched in 2012 at the first European Artisanal Fishermen Congress held in Brussels, and consolidated at a second Congress in 2013 held in Santiago.  These 2 meetings served to gather LIFE’s founding members, establish LIFE’s strategic direction and to define its vision and mission .

  • 2014

    LIFE’S START UP

    Thanks to a generous start-up grant, LIFE was able to register in the UK in 2014, and establish an office in Brussels in 2015.

  • 2015

    LIFE TAKES ITS FIRST STEPS

    Having established its presence in Brussels, LIFE started working to

    • develop a stronger voice for small-scale fishermen across Europe,
    • represent small-scale low impact  fishers  with the European institutions in Brussels and
    • support national organisations representing small-scale fishers. 
  • 2016

    LIFE BRANCHES OUT

    BALTIC AND NORTH SEA PROGRAMME

    LIFE is awarded a one off grant from the European Commission under the scheme “Support measures for small-scale fishing’ pilot project”, to establish a programme of work in the Baltic and North Sea. One major success was the election of 5 LIFE Member organizations to the Executive Committee of the Baltic Sea Advisory Council (BSAC).

    LIFE became becomes recognized by the European institutions as the voice for small-scale fishers at EU level and becomes  active in 6 of the 10 Advisory Councils

    THIRD EUROPEAN ARTISANAL FISHERMEN’S CONGRESS 

    LIFE organises the Third Congress of European Artisanal Fishers in Warsaw, bringing representatives from all its member organizations together. The meeting launched LIFE’s 10 year “umbrella” strategy.

    LIFE COMMITS TO SUPPORTING THE STRUGGLES OF WOMEN IN SMALL-SCALE FISHERIES

    The Congress also committed to working in strategic partnership with AKTEAthe European network of women’s organizations in fisheries and aquaculture.  LIFE committed to supporting a specific programme of women in fisheries within the organization

  • 2018

    STRENGTHENING THE MEDITERRANEAN PROGRAMME

    The MAVA Foundation’s Mediterranean Basin Programme  and LIFE form  3-year partnership, greatly strengthening LIFE’s capacity in this important sea-basin. 

    LIFE engages in, and contributes to the process led by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) to draft the Regional Plan of Action for Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea (RPOA-SSF). LIFE becomes a founder member of the “Friends of Small-scale Fisheries” in GFCM, a group committed to supporting the implementation of the RPOA-SSF. 

    At the end of 2018, Brexit made it imperative for LIFE to shift to an EU Member State and to close its UK operations. LIFE becomes registered as a Not for Profit Association (ASBL) in Belgium.

  • 2019

    Growing

    PULSE TRAWLING IS BANNED

    After a long campaign started by LIFE in 2016, the European Parliament votes in plenary to ban fishing with electric “pulse trawls”.

    STRATEGIC PLANNING

    LIFE embarks on an internal reflection through a process of review and strategic planning, involving members and consulting with different stakeholders.  

    LIFE now represents 33 members in 15 Member States (incorporating approx. 10.000 fishers).

    A FAIR DEAL FOR SMALL-SCALE FISHERIES?

    The Pech Committee of the European Parliament organizes a discussion on “A fair deal for  small-scale, artisanal and coastal fishermen SSF in the allocation of fishing opportunities”, through the initiative of LIFE, highlighting how the CFP has created a “distorted sea” discriminating against SSF.

  • 2020-2021

    STRENGTHENING LIFE’S GOVERNANCE AND DIRECTION

    MAVA PARTNERSHIP RENEWED

    The MAVA Foundation renews its partnership with LIFE for two years, up to October 2022, enabling the Mediterranean Programme to continue its commitment to supporting LIFE Members at the water-face. The support is for partnership initiatives, linking LIFE to other MAVA partners in two strategic initiatives:  “Foodnected, towards a fair and sustainable food system in the Mediterranean”; and “Empowering the legacy: scaling up co-managed and financially sustainable No-Take Zones / Marine Protected Areas”.

    STEWARDS OF THE BALEARIC SEA

    LIFE becomes a partner of the Marilles Foundation to work in the Balearic Islands over a 3-year period. LIFE’s role is to engage with SSF associations and promote their integration into protected area initiatives and associated co-management initiatives and to promote the direct sale of their products. The initiative is linked to LIFE’s partnership with MAVA. 

    5 YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN DRAFTED

    LIFE finalises drafting a 5-year strategic plan, based on a long process of review. The plan commits LIFE to uniting fishers to achieve fair fisheries, healthy seas and vibrant communities. Towards achieving these goals, LIFE developed a theory of change as part of the plan. The strategic plan is reviewed by LIFE’s Board of Directors in 2021.

    BLUEFIN TUNA IN COURT

    A landmark legal ruling in a French court finds in favor of LIFE’s French members and partners, and against the French rules for allocating Bluefin Tuna fishing quotas. The ruling has implications for quota allocation across Europe.

    STRENGTHENING LIFE’S GOVERNANCE AND DIRECTION

    LIFE organizes an on-line Fishers’ Forum and General Assembly.  The meeting adopts a statement on the implementation of the 2014 CFP, approves revisions to LIFE’s Statutes, adopts LIFE’s Strategic Plan, and elects a new regionally based Board of Directors.

  • 2025 Vision

    Fishers of the future

    LIFE’s 2025 vision is to become a cohesive, well governed and financially stable European umbrella organisation, made up of national and local level organisations dedicated to small-scale low impact fish (SSF) production, including SSF fish producer organizations, with a strong presence in Brussels and at sea basin level, having staff and members spread throughout Europe. 

    LIFE Members will become actors of change, having their say in European policies, with fair access to resources and markets, engaged in the co-management of their fishing areas, and with their children training as fishers thanks to the development of LIFE’s Fishers of the Future Programme.

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