PORT-OF-SPAIN: Over 35 fisherfolk leaders and resource persons from 17 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries met last month in Trinidad and agreed on a four-year plan of action, which will see fisherfolk in the Caribbean mobilizing for stronger representation in the region and internationally.
“There are many factors that are threatening the livelihoods of fisherfolk in the Caribbean and so it’s very important that they start taking a stronger role in governance,” said Nicole Leotaud, executive director of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), a technical non-profit organization aimed at facilitating participatory natural resource management in the Caribbean.
During last month’s four-day workshop, fisherfolk agreed on an implementation plan for a four-year project funded by the European Union (EU) EuropeAid program. The project is aimed at improving the contribution of the small scale fisheries sector and food security in the Caribbean by building the capacity of regional and national fisherfolk networks to participate in fisheries governance and management.
CANARI and its project implementing partners, the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) of the University of the West Indies, Panos Caribbean, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CFRM) organized the workshop.
“We have learned extensively about areas that we can take action to impact policy and to link fishing to food security and nutrition,” said Mitchell Lay, co-ordinator of the CNFO. “This is very important because globally these are very big issues – one policy we intend to impact is the small scale fisheries guidelines. These guidelines will impact all of us. I urge you get to know the guidelines better and encourage your governments to send representatives to ensure that our voices are heard.”
According to Lay, more fisherfolk need to be engaged in the global negotiations now taking place on the International Guidelines on Small-Scale Fisheries, being co-ordinated by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. He said that, at the recent negotiating meetings held in Rome this year, only one Caribbean nation represented CARICOM member states at the fisherfolk workshop.
Participation in the ongoing negotiation of the international guidelines was one of the issues discussed at the workshop. The fisherfolk also analyzed the Draft Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy and the CARICOM Nutrition and Food Security Policy. The EU project will support efforts of fisherfolk to engage in national, regional and international policy debates to ensure that policies developed address the needs of small-scale fisherfolk and ensure that they can continue to play a significant role in food security and nutrition in the Caribbean islands.
During the workshop, fisherfolk also agreed on project activities to build the capacity of local, national and regional fisherfolk organisations through a combination of national training workshops, small grants, and ongoing coaching and support by a team of trained in-country mentors.
The over one million Euro project is targeting fisherfolk organizations in the CARICOM countries of Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Turks & Caicos.