S. Hoyt Peckham is the president and founder of The SmartFish Group, an organization based in La Paz, Mexico, that promotes more sustainable artisanal fishing. In Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, as in much of the developing world, fishers are often forced to sell their catch for very low prices. These low prices drive a vicious cycle of overfishing that can undermine fishers’ livelihoods and communities. As a result of the lower quality of the seafood produced, consumers and chefs along the Sea of Cortez are often forced to import otherwise locally available seafood.
Peckham used his Pew fellowship to explore how best to expand The SmartFish Group, which empowers fishers and their families to catch and produce high-quality and sustainable seafood—both regionally and internationally. He conducted site visits and convened seafood experts to share experiences and best practices, produce practical manuals and other materials, and generate recommendations for applying the methodology to other small-scale fisheries around the world. Peckham’s project also aimed to cultivate demand for seafood and facilitate sales to the upper-middle class and hospitality industry. As a result, fishers could potentially increase their earnings while catching less than half as much as before. For more information on Peckham’s work, visit https://www.smartfishac.org.