Over 35 fisherfolk leaders and resource persons from 17 CARICOM countries met in August in Trinidad and agreed on a four-year plan of action which will see fisherfolk in the Caribbean mobilising 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 CANARI, a technical non-profit organisation aimed at facilitating participatory natural resource management in the Caribbean.
Fisherfolk agreed on an implementation plan for a four-year project funded by the European Union (EU) EuropeAid programme aimed at improving the contribution of the small scale fisheries sector to food security in the Caribbean through 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 Organisations (CNFO) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CFRM)–organised the four-day workshop, which was held in Trinidad.
“This week we have learnt extensively about areas that we can take action to impact policy and to link fishing to food security and nutrition. This is very important because globally these are very big issues–one policy we intend to impact is the small-scale fisheries guidelines,” said Mitchell Lay, Coordinator of the CNFO.
“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,” he explained.
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 coordinated by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (UN FAO). He said that at the recent negotiating meetings held in Rome this year only one Caribbean country was represented of all the 17 CARICOM countries represented at the fisherfolk workshop.
Participation in the ongoing negotiation of the international guidelines was one of the issues discussed at the workshop. Fisherfolk also analysed 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 1 million Euro project is targeting fisherfolk organisations in the CARICOM countries of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.