June 27, 2008
Monitoring plan needed to check dwindling local small Jacks, Robins

A practical monitoring plan is what is needed if the local fisheries authority is to address concerns about the dwindling local small jacks and robins fish supply.

“The situation has to be studied, data collected, so that proper management of the resources could be done,’ said Dr Susan Singh-Renton, director of the Kingstown based, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).{{more}}

Dr Singh-Renton was speaking following the fourth annual scientists’ meeting of the CRFM held here on June 10 to 20.

Fisheries scientists from 13 of the member countries participated in this year’s meeting. The meeting evaluated among other things, the state of a number of major fisheries across the region, including lobster fisheries in Jamaica and the Bahamas, the queen conch fishery of St Lucia, and the seabob shrimp fisheries of Suriname and Guyana.

The results were used to advise the States concerned, particularly to help them improve monitoring of these fisheries, a release from CRFM states.

A couple months ago government passed regulations that would place an indefinite ban on the sale of jacks and robins to the foreign long line fishers who use the fish as bait for catching larger fish such as tunas and kingfish.

However these fish, which account for over 40 per cent of this country’s annual fish landing are a main source of fresh fish protein for Vincentians, especially the rural communities.

This Dr Singh-Renton says cannot be taken lightly.

“The social value, the benefit to the rural communities, the contribution to food security, must be considered,” Dr Singh-Renton told SEARCHLIGHT.

She said that as government encourages fisher folk to upgrade their vessels through a specially set up loan facility, the local demand for bait will also increase.

She said that as data is collected to ascertain the pattern of the supply, including whether or not there are seasons of higher catch, this country will be better placed to manage the supply.

She said that once the data is collected, the first order of business will be the food supply need, then the local long line fishers, before the foreign long line fishers’ needs are considered.