Carriacou Fishers Turn to Ocean Fishing to Protect Their Coral Reefs

Royan Isaac, Dropline Trainer

On Thursday, 16 November a 238-lb blue marlin, together with 2 yellow fin tunas (80 lbs and 78 lbs) were landed at the Carriacou fish market.

The community of Carriacou can expect to see an abundance of sliced fish at their local fish markets, as the fishers of Carriacou and Petite Martinique get excited over ocean fishing. The move to get fishers away from near-shore to ocean fishing, was a deliberate decision taken by the L’Esterre fishers of Carriacou. They formed the Carriacou Fisherfolk Organisation Inc (CFF) in 2012 to find new livelihoods for fishers affected by the creation of the Sandy Island/Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area (MPA) which banned fishing in that area.

In only 3 years, the CFF received climate change funding support of over a US$100,000 to help achieve their goal of protecting near-shore coral habitat and in establishing Fishing Aggregating Devices (FAD) in the ocean to capture species, such as tuna, marlin, king fish and mahi-mahi. Organisations providing support were the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment and the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, through the UNDP-Integrated Climate Change Adaptation Strategies (ICCAS) Project which trained fishers and deployed FADs on the western and eastern sides of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Then the Sustainable Grenadines Inc (SusGren) developed an action plan with fishers to address near-shore climate change problems and partnered with UNDP ICCAS to train fishers in resource management and drop line FAD fishing technology. Lastly, the CFF has just received a new grant from the Australian Government to maintain and expand their FAD programme.

Fishers building droplines

In order to get fishers excited about FAD fishing and to prevent over-fishing, the CFF requested support from the Fisheries Division Grenville Office whose FAD fisher’s organisation is one of the leaders in the Eastern Caribbean. During 14-17 November 2017, Toby Calliste, Fisheries Extension Officer (Northern and Eastern Division) and Royan Isaac, President of the Grenville FAD Fishers Organisation, trained over 30 fisherfolk from Carriacou and Petite Martinique in building their own droplines for catching large fish. The hallmark of the workshop was that the fishers went one step further and formed a FAD Fishers Organisation with responsibilities to maintain the FADs and to better manage the fishing stock. Fishers from Carriacou and Petite Martinique and beyond are encouraged to join the FAD Fishers organisation whose plan is to enter into co-management arrangement with the Fisheries Division giving them the right to own and manage the FAD resources of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

The training workshop was a great success, and the over 400 lbs of fish caught when the fishers first tested their droplines at sea, on the 3rd day of the workshop, was testimony to that fact. The workshop was hosted by Carriacou Fisherfolks Inc (CFF) with funding support from UNDP ICCAS and SusGren.

FAD Fishers displaying fish caught, at Carriacou Fish Market

The ICCAS project is part of the International Climate Change Initiative, funded by the German government to assist Grenada to adapt to climate change and is executed through the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

UNDP-ICCAS Carriacou Offices
Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs

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