National Fisherfolk Organisation Way Forward

James Nicholas

A number of persons from 5 fishing organisations are more knowledgeable about aspects of the fishing industry. They recently participated in a workshop which provided them with a better understanding about the national, regional and international processes for developing and implementing fisheries and related policies.

A national fisherfolk workshop undertaken by CANARI, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute, allowed participants to carry out a problem tree analysis, identifying challenges to fisherfolk organisations and fisherfolk in areas such as the cost of fishing operations, market intelligence, development of fisherfolk organisations, fisheries policy, governance and management, and social security for fisherfolk.

Then, they determined the likely solutions, including the capacities and resources required to address these challenges. They recognised the need to form a national fisherfolk organisation to advocate for changes in the national and regional policy, institutional and planning arrangements that would better address their issues. As a result, they set up an interim committee comprised of representatives of the various fisherfolk organisations to promote the formation of a national fisherfolk organisation.

In his evaluation of the two day workshop, James Nicholas, President of the Southern Fishermen Association said, “The main objectives were met. The use of the ‘Problem Tree’ was very interesting and informative, as it allowed us to express our issues in this industry, and pointed to the need for a national fisherfolk organisation. We see this as the way forward.”

The workshop was co-facilitated by Toby Francis Calliste mentor, and Terrence Phillips, Senior Technical Officer, CANARI. Supporting the engagement of fisherfolk is especially critical now, as there are a number of international, regional and national policies being developed and implemented that will impact on their livelihoods.

The Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organistions (CNFO), in consultation with its membership, represented the region’s fisherfolk at the recently concluded negotiations and approval of the International Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small Scale Fisheries, which were coordinated by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). At the regional level, they are seeking to input into the operationalisation of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy and the Castries (St Lucia) Declaration on IUU fishing.

The workshop was convened under the over Euro 1 million European Union funded project Enhancing Food Security from the Fisheries Sector in the Caribbean: Building the capacity of regional and national fisherfolk organisation networks to participate in fisheries governance and management, which is targeting fisherfolk organisations in the 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.

It is being implemented by CANARI, working in partnership with the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies of the University of the West Indies (UWI-CERMES), Panos Caribbean, CNFO and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CFRM).

By Linda Straker

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