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FAO helping fisheries industry improve disaster management


FAO helping fisheries industry improve disaster management

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The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) is hosting a workshop this week to help fisheries in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) improve their adaptation to climate change and disaster risk resilience.

Operating under the theme Implementing the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries Management Planning, the three-day workshop started yesterday, July 4 and will conclude tomorrow, July 6 at the United Nations House in Barbados.

Over 30 participants representing eight Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago) are attending. They include Stephen Willoughby, Chief Fisheries Officer for the Government of Barbados, Crafton Isaac, Chief Fisheries Officer for the Government of Grenada, as well as  Fisheries Officers and National Project Coordinators from across the Caribbean. Also in attendance are fisheries experts from FAO, the University of the West Indies (UWI), and participants from the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) and Coastal Zone Management Unit in Barbados.

The workshop is part of the larger Climate Change Adaption of the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector Project, also known as CC4FISH and is being implemented by FAO. The Project was developed in response to the serious challenges confronting the Caribbean fisheries sector as a result of climate change.

Sessions are designed to demonstrate how an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) can be practically incorporated into different types of National Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs), such as Marine Protected Area (MPA) Plans and a Queen Conch Management Plan.

“The training is important as the fisheries sector is already suffering from the impacts of climate change which include coral bleaching, an increased frequency of high intensity storms and hurricanes, and sargassum influxes. All of these have negative effects on marine ecosystems, food security, and livelihoods. This very hands-on and practical training will improve the institutional capacity of fisheries officers and others to implement measures aimed at improving the sustainability of the fisheries while incorporating the changes experiences and foreseen as a result of climate change in the region with benefits for all involved in the sector,” said Dr Iris Monnereau, Regional Project Coordinator for the CC4FISH Project at the FAO Subregional Office for the Caribbean.

Through the EAF training, participants will learn a holistic approach to fisheries management that not only focuses on ecosystem conservation but also improvements in human wellbeing and governance of the fisheries sector. It identifies key sustainability issues from within and outside the sector, on the basis of wide consultation of stakeholders in order to empower them to actively participate in decision making.

“This workshop brings into focus the benefits of having a diverse group examining the issues that are critical to promoting and protecting the livelihoods of fisherfolk in this region. During the sessions, we examine EAF with an emphasis on people and integrated participatory fisheries management to address areas of vulnerability such as climate change impacts to which fishers are most susceptible, and to incorporate risk management,” said Mitch Lay, Director of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation (CNFO).

“Grenada is developing a Marine Protected Area Fisheries Management Plan which integrates EAF, CCA and DRM. This training helps us to improve the plan so it can become an effective fisheries management tool whereby we can monitor whether it is having a positive effect on marine habitat health and fish abundance while engaging fisherfolk from the start. By taking this approach we can diminish conflicts and improve effectiveness and legitimisation,” said Crafton Isaac, Chief Fisheries Officer for Grenada.

In addition to climate-related challenges, Caribbean fisheries are already facing other negative stressors. For example, 55 per cent  of the region’s fisheries are considered over-exploited while 20 to 30 per cent of commercially harvested fish catches are the result of illegal, unregulated and unreported activities.

“This training applies the EAF concept and incorporates CCA and DRM into Fisheries Management Plans. As a result, I see the plans in a different light, and can identify new elements that I didn’t consider before. For example environmental changes, such as the recent influxes of sargassum is an unprecedented phenomenon that wasn’t incorporated into the current flying fish management plan. However, as we are seeing severe impacts on the flying fish fishery in Barbados, this training helps to integrate these types of environmental factors into the plans,” said Joyce Leslie, Deputy Chief Fisheries Officer for Barbados.

As the lead global agency with responsibility for food and agriculture, FAO’s mandate is to build a world where everyone has access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food which contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – eradicating hunger by 2030 and the FAO is also custodian of SDG 14: conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

“FAO recognises that a thriving and sustainable fisheries sector is integral to achieving the SDGs. A large part of our work focuses on the importance of fisheries and its many associated processes for ensuring food security and nutrition and economic growth through fish-related employment opportunities. Therefore this workshop contributes to achieving SDGs 2 and 14, which are closely linked to our mandate,” said Dr Lystra Fletcher-Paul, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Caribbean. (PR)