Caribbean Fisheries Ministers have underscored the need for the region to take urgent action to address the ongoing Sargassum scourge, as well as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing—two of the most pressing challenges responsible for multimillion-dollar losses to the regional economy.
The call came at the recent 13th Regular Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in St Kitts and Nevis.
During Council deliberations on the Sargassum problem, Grenada’s Minister of Fisheries Alvin Dabreo emphasized the need for immediate measures to curb the impacts. The meeting agreed that urgent action is needed on multiple fronts to address the problem, and highlighted the need for support from international development partners.
In relation to IUU fishing, Jamaica’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green, spoke of the problems that Jamaica has recently been
facing due to IUU fishing by vessels from countries such as Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Jamaica has had to extend the close-season for the Queen Conch fishery indefinitely, due to the adverse effects of IUU fishing on stock abundance.
The Ministerial Council “[affirmed that] IUU fishing is a major problem affecting Queen Conch fisheries in the region and highlighted the need to more aggressively pursue national and regionally coordinated action to combat IUU fishing and protect the fisheries resources, including direct engagement with the flag States of the IUU vessels and the market States where the IUU catches are exported.”
It furthermore endorsed the collective regional efforts to engage both the market States where IUU fish is sold and the IUU fishing nations for conch, lobster and other high-value species.
It is only through joint efforts that the region can resolve problems such as those associated with climate change, IUU fishing, and the Sargassum inundation, stakeholders agreed.