On April 25 & 26, 2018, fisheries experts from Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines met in Kingstown, St. Vincent to explore options for a climate-resilient fisheries monitoring system and a related fisheries and environment database.
The experts met at a two-day workshop organised by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) to support the roll out of the Fishery-Related Ecological and Socio-Economic Impact Assessments and Monitoring System project. The project is an initiative under the Regional Track of the Caribbean Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR), funded by the Climate Investment Funds through the Inter-American Development Bank, and managed by the University of the West Indies’ Mona Office for Research and Innovation.
This data-driven project under the PPCR recognises that Caribbean fisheries are under serious threat due to climate change, and focuses on information strengthening to facilitate climate smart planning for the sector.
Across the region, coastal erosion is compromising important fish landing beach sites. Rising sea levels and more intense storms are causing major damage to fish habitats and reducing fishery access and assets. Recognising the complexity of these problems, and the need for a comprehensive response and greater collaboration among stakeholders in the sector, the workshop focused on developing a shared understanding of the impact of climate change on the ecological and socio-economic components of fisheries systems across the Caribbean. This shared understanding is an important first step in supporting participants to explore options for a climate-smart fisheries monitoring system and related fisheries and environment database.
Jullan Defoe, Senior Fisheries Officer from Dominica said data was critical for fisheries management: “After the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Dominica discovered that there was a serious data void. The gaps in the availability of relevant data and information in some instances have hampered strategic interventions in the emergency recovery phase. The most critical outcome of this project will be a comprehensive ecological assessment. This is something that Dominica absolutely needs in order to recover, and more so as we aim to become the first climate resilient country in the world.”
Over the two day event, participants worked to select pilot study sites for local project activities and discussed the development of a climate-smart monitoring system. They also examined options for strengthening communication to improve knowledge, awareness and practices for climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction responses in the Caribbean fisheries sector. The workshop took steps towards establishing a CRFM PPCR Project Working Group, to support work under the Fisheries sub-component of the Regional PPCR.
Dr. Susan Singh-Renton, Deputy Executive Director of the CRFM Secretariat, underscored the importance of having this project working group: “The Caribbean faces a number of common challenges, and so it makes sense for us to work together as a group. The Working Group will allow experts who have good local knowledge to commit to the project for a period of two years…and as the project evolves, members will have opportunities to learn about the new methods and tools required for climate smart fisheries monitoring and management.”
Photo of beach erosion in Barbasdos by Michelle Mycoo and Andrew John Chadwick via ResearchGate.