Fisheries crime ‘a threat’
COPENHAGEN – Barbados has told an international conference that fisheries crime threatens food security and undermines the stability of the oceans as it signed the Copenhagen Declaration, an international initiative against transnational organised crime in the global fishing industry.
Several CARICOM countries were represented at the two-day meeting, which ended yesterday and was described as the largest global high-level forum. It was organised jointly by the United Nations Development Programme and the government of Norway.
Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Adrian Forde, told the Blue Justice conference that Barbados’ fishing industry weaves together the multi-coloured social fabric of coastal communities and forms the national identity of Barbadians.
He said this climate-sensitive sector straddles the kaleidoscope of coloured economies, and unfortunately includes the black economy.
“[It is] an economy, of course, bedevilled with illegal activities, such as drug and human trafficking, and unregulated and unreported fishing, which have often posed a significant challenge in the sector worldwide.
“Fisheries crime threatens food security and undermines the stability of our oceans. How are we charting the way forward towards a better future for the fishing industry? We have been working closely in Barbados with the Regional Security System to detect, stop and fight fisheries crime,” he said, noting that throughout the whole supply chain, “we are striving to assure the legality and traceability of our fish, and execute operations to dismantle the criminal networks that are behind these crimes”.
He said Barbados has started to outfit its vessels with state-of-the-art vessel monitoring systems to provide comprehensive monitoring and analysis of vessel usage, compliance and behaviours with respect to marine protected areas and restricted-use areas.
“Traceability is a game-changer on both fronts, ensuring that fish shipments are certified as having been caught ethically, and in accordance with best practices. However, the certification cannot solely rely on the fishermen’s good faith. The development of plans and policies is, therefore, key in supporting good governance.”
Forde told the forum Bridgetown is in the process of adopting the Regional Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) Fishing so that the national conversation can be one that enhances this sector.
He said another notable initiative is the improvement of legislative framework to strengthen fisheries management, and promote monitoring and surveillance policies, including mandating the use of vessel-monitoring devices aboard all vessels registered in Barbados. (CMC)