Saturday, April 4, 2009

Caribbean fishing industry concerned about dwindling stocks

GEORGETOWN, Guyana: A Guyanese fisherman has expressed concern at the dwindling of the catch in his country.

Jainaraine Pamashwar, representative of the Upper Corentyne Fishers’ Association, Berbice, Guyana, speaking during a Panel Discussion on Thursday April 2, 2009 at the Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown expressed the concern that fishers from his area had been seeing “smaller catches every year”. He lamented that what the fishermen considered to be “fishing season” could no longer be identified, and that the fishes were “getting smaller.”

Pamashwar said that the fishers needed a “management structure” to guide them on how they could regulate their fishing and diversify their enterprise. The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) staged the Panel Discussion under the theme, `Caribbean Fisheries: Sinking or Swimming in Uncertain Water’, and heard fisheries stakeholders relate fishers’ lack of awareness of regional developments in the sector as well as lack of information related to the over-exploitation of particular fishing grounds.

The CRFM is developing a comprehensive strategy to communicate more effectively with stakeholders in the Fisheries Sector to obtain information and feedback which would guide the CRFM in its work in promoting the sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources in and among Member States. The Panel Discussion was part of the CRFM’s communication strategy and was the second in a series which began in Barbados in October 2008.

Deputy Executive Director of the CRFM, Milton Haughton told fisheries stakeholders who participated, that Ministers responsible for Fisheries had adopted a proposal by the Caribbean Regional Fisherfolk Network to be recognised as the regional representative body for the fisherfolk in the Region, in policy decisions taken at the state and regional levels.

All CARICOM Member States and three of its five Associate Members – Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands - are involved in the CRFM.

While there were mechanisms in place among CRFM states to consult with Fisheries stakeholders on policy decisions affecting their sector, the decision marks the first time such a formal mechanism would be in place for fishers to have a seat at the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, which is the main advisory body of the CRFM. The Ministers responsible for Fisheries formalised this level of consultation with the Fisherfolk at the First Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines January last.

Haughton noted that Regional Fisheries management was a challenging enterprise which became even more complex with the remoteness of some fishing communities, with the myriad concerns fishers had, and with the lack of organisation of the Fisherfolk in some Member States.

The CRFM had responded to these challenges, he said, and it had obtained funding for a project to build capacity in existing fisherfolk organisations and to coordinate this kind of structure in places where they did not exist.

He noted that in the past, consultation with the fisherfolk had not been sustained, but the CRFM recognised that the need was “more urgent today”. Therefore, it was making concerted efforts to be “grounded on the reality of what the ordinary man – fishermen, vendos, consumer - face.”

Source: Caribbean Net News

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