Earth Today | Caribbean fisherfolk receive mentorship
STAKEHOLDERS FROM the Caribbean fisheries sector recently had the benefit of a mentorship workshop for capacity building in ecosystem stewardship and sustainable livelihoods, held in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The participant, among them fisherfolk leaders, mentors and government representatives, were drawn from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, and St Lucia, in addition to St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The workshop was a key activity under the ‘Developing Organisational Capacity for Ecosystem Stewardship and Livelihoods in Caribbean Small-Scale Fisheries (StewardFish)’ project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
“The countries participating in StewardFish face difficult problems associated with the sustainable development of fisheries, including insufficient financial resources and human capacity in state institutions; and lack of organisational, human, financial and technical capacity among non-state actors such as fisherfolk,” said Terrence Phillips, regional project coordinator for StewardFish at the opening ceremony for the workshop.
StewardFish is aimed at addressing these issues by empowering fisherfolk throughout fisheries value chains to engage in resource management, decision-making processes and sustainable livelihoods, with strengthened institutional support at all levels.
According to Phillips, StewardFish is building on other regional projects, such as the GEF-funded Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector project and CLME+ Shrimp and Ground sub-project, as well as the European Union-funded Powering Innovations in Civil Society and Enterprises for Sustainability in the Caribbean project. All, he said, are contributing to improving governance, management and building the capacities of fisherfolk and their organisations.
“With the on-the-ground activities for StewardFish coming on stream, we need to see them as building on or complementing the work of the other projects, and pay attention to creating synergies as we work towards achieving the vision of the Strategic Action Programme for the sustainable management of shared living marine resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil shelf large marine ecosystems,” Phillips said.
As one of the co-executing partners of the StewardFish project, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute is applying an innovative organisational capacity-strengthening method to help build the capacity of the national fisherfolk organisations/lead primary fisherfolk organisations that are members of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO) in the seven project countries.
The method will use trained mentors to deliver a tailored programme of training, mentoring, coaching, action learning, and facilitating peer exchanges for organisational strengthening.
At the four-day workshop, mentors as well as fisherfolk leaders and fisheries agency representatives built their capacity to support fisherfolk organisations in three priority areas – financial sustainability, good governance and participatory monitoring, evaluation and learning.
Mitchell Lay, coordinator of the CNFO, encouraged mentors to be sensitive to the issues facing small-scale fisherfolk, noting that they are oftentimes looked down upon.
“What we [small-scale fisherfolk] do is a dignified employment and it contributes meaningfully to society,” he said.
Speaking on the relationships between mentors and fisherfolk organisations, Lay noted that “relationship building is important – respect will engender success”.