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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Saint Lucia's fishermen peg hopes on common fisheries policy

John Francis was just 17 when he began fishing more than four decades ago. But these days, the 60-year-old fisherman from Praslin, on the east coast of the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, finds it hard to make a living. "There used to be money in fishing. In the 70s, 80s and 90s I used to catch 500-600 pounds (230-270 kg) of fish a day," he said. Now, "things have changed. These days I am lucky if I catch 500 pounds of fish in two weeks." Just as worrying, "the sea is different. I cannot explain it, but it looks like there are less and less fish, warmer temperatures and really bad storms," he said. He and other fishermen hit by over-fishing and climate change may soon win some relief, however, as a result of a common fisheries policy negotiated by ministers from 15 Caribbean countries to better conserve and manage the remaining fish.

The hard-won policy, announced last month, follows 10 years of negotiations by the Belize-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). Milton Houghton, the CRFM's executive director, says the policy should aid sustainable management of the region's over-exploited fisheries, improve food security and reduce poverty. The policy "heralds a new era in cooperation in the conservation, management and use of marine resources," he said. The policy will establish a common fishing zone while allowing member states to retain management of their territorial seas. It also improves arrangements for the management of fish stocks in the Caribbean, which are presently not subject to any management regime. For the fishermen of Saint Lucia, this could mean they will have access to greater fish reserves and a wider fishing area, albeit one with strict conservation and management measures.

Source: af.reuters.com