KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC:
A two-day Caribbean fisheries workshop began here on Monday, October 22 with delegates being told that unregulated fishing continues to affect the economies of several Caribbean countries.
Delegates to the workshop, organised by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), were also informed that the situation is having a negative impact on the conservation programmes of the region.
“The contribution of the fisheries sector to our social and economic development and food security is being threatened by IEU fishing occurring nationally, regionally and globally,” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Raymond Ryan.
“The problem of IEU fishing is more prevalent on the seas although it does persist in fresh water fisheries as well,” he said, adding that “challenged by the high demand for fish and inadequate monitoring control and surveillance system in the region, Caribbean states are particularly vulnerable to IEU fishing.
He said that the region is concerned about the depletion of its fisheries resources, “the degradation of aquatic habitat and the threats to sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development regionally.
The workshop is reviewing a draft study on monitoring control and surveillance in the fisheries sector across the region.
CRFM programme manager for fisheries and management and development, Terrance Phillip, said that while illegal unregulated fishing continues to be a serious issue, programmes must be development to address it.
He told the delegates that the CRFM is developing strategies to assist in the area. “IEU fishing is particularly threatening to fisheries management in developing states.
Efforts to deal with the problem are hampered by a number of factors including the large areas of ocean space relative to land area, the migratory nature of fisheries resources, inadequate financial and technical resources and insufficient skilled manpower.
“In the Caribbean where countries are in close proximity to each other and the living marine resources are shared, we need to develop an integrated cost effective monitoring control surveillance and enforcement system to deal with the threat of IEU fishing,” Phillip added.
The workshop is also providing an opportunity for member states to agree on membership and terms of reference for the regional working group.