In the Hands of the Fishers (IHOF) is a fisherfolk to fisherfolk environmental education program which promotes sustainable development through the empowerment of village leaders to manage coastal resources in a sustainable manner. IHOF promotes coastal resource conservation and wise use of resources for the improvement of fishers’ livelihoods utilizing a community-based or a co-management arrangement. The IHOF program engages community fisher leaders from one or more countries to exchange personal experiences in coastal resources management and livelihoods issues.
IHOF involves both local community fisher leaders and grassroots NGOs, and occasionally local government officials, from various nations which contain mangrove forests and face the threats of unsustainable developments, such as industrial shrimp aquaculture and over-fishing by commercial trawlers. The attending participates of a 3 to 5 day workshop exchange ideas, share experiences and skills, and help design and later implement those various options or solutions which are reached during these workshops.
The workshops provide a unique environmental education experience in that they often involve local community leaders from 3-6 countries in one region, with each participant speaking their own language through translation provided by accompanying NGO translators. Most of the local persons have never previously traveled outside their own country. This cross-cultural aspect adds another educational dimension as participants learn the similarities and differences between neighboring countries regarding ways of life and management of resources. In a small way this has had the unexpected benefit of improving understanding of cultural differences and the realization that the coastal resource problems faced in different nations are often very similar.
To date, 12 IHOF workshops have been held in Asia, Africa and Latin America, with great success and many lessons learned by both the participants and the IHOF organizers. The workshops are continually being refined and are evolving to becoming more participatory, informal, and topic focused. There has been an attempt to move the workshop setting from hotels to coastal mangrove centers near the participating communities, or even into the community itself. There is also a greater focus on learning on field trips to view successful working models, as participants learn best from other fisher leaders through activities in the field, rather than by theory in a formal meeting room setting.
There has also been a realization of the need to incorporate seed funds for follow-up projects, so participants following the IHOF workshop can test newly learned techniques or alternative livelihood models. In summary, the workshops are being sensitively adjusted to make the training experience “In the Hands of the Fishers” more suitable to the needs of the fisher participants.
View IHOF Summary Reports