January 16, 2009
Regional Fisherfolk planning for future

A call has been made for Ministers of Agriculture in the CARICOM region to fully involve the fisherfolk community when formulating fisheries policies, management plans and legislation, as well as be cognizant that good governance comes from the public and the law.{{more}}

The request came from Mitchell Lay, Coordinator of the Regional Fisherfolk Organisation – Coordinating Unit (RFO-CU). Lay made the appeal while chairing a 3-day workshop on Regional Fisherfolk Organisation Policy Influence and Planning, which started on January 13 and ended on January 15, 2009, at the Fisheries Division Complex, Kingstown.

Lay, addressing the workshop which is being held in advance of the first meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), and the recommendations his organization intend to place before the council, said the regional fisherfolk representatives attending the conference also believe that there should be common guidelines throughout the CARICOM region that would allow for the active participation of fisherfolk within the entire management structure of fisheries.

“Also, we think there should be support mechanisms established that allow for fisherfolk to develop the capacity and the skills necessary to participate,” said Lay, adding that his organization is certain that there is lack of information on what is happening across the region in terms of fisheries management plans, development plans, and collaboration from a regional level where donor agencies are concerned in major projects.

Besides the local management and governance of fisheries, the RFO will also make recommendations regarding fisheries projects and research; trade in fish and fish products; illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; and the Common Fisheries Policy and Regime (CFP&R).

Fisherfolk leaders from primary and national fishing industry organizations based in 11 CARICOM member states and representatives from the RFO attended the meeting.

The meeting, hosted by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was also co- sponsored by several other organizations, including the University of the West Indies and the Commonwealth Foundation.

The meeting also contributes to a two year commonwealth programme on marine fisheries management and coastal zone communities, which urged Commonwealth member states and institutions to recognise the global decline in fish stocks, and to take urgent steps to put both marine and inland fisheries on a sustainable footing. (HN)