Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to be a threat to the effective conservation and management of fish stocks in the Wider Caribbean Region. IUU fishing is causing economic and social losses for the Caribbean countries and negatively impacts their food security.
The 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Combat IUU Fishing has been designed to intensify global collaboration between fisheries and port authorities, coast guards and navies. The aim is to eliminate IUU fishing, through globally agreed minimum standards for concerted action, enabling better inspections and controls at the ports, on vessels and increasing flag State responsibility. This week FAO, in collaboration with the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC), a FAO Regional Fisheries Body, is hosting a Regional Workshop to build capacity for implementation of the Port States Measures Agreement among the Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The Workshop, held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and is being attended by more than 80 officials from 25 countries.In his opening remarks, Mr Barton Clarke, FAO Representative to Trinidad and Tobago, emphasized that the Agreement is particularly important for SIDS as it empowers them to exert greater control of their own waters and over shared stocks, increasing transparency of fishing operations. Coastal fisheries resources of Caribbean SIDS are already under pressure and illegal fishing from foreign vessels is adding to this. Most target fish stocks in the region are already either fully exploited or over-exploited. Caribbean SIDS’ fisheries are carried out mostly by small-scale vessels in coastal near-shore areas, but industrial fleets from other countries fish further off-shore and on the high seas of the Western Central Atlantic – vast areas that are difficult to manage and monitor. These fisheries negatively affect the availability of fish to the small-scale fleets of the SIDS.
The workshop is organized within of the framework of a broader international FAO programme to strengthen capacity for the effective implementation of the Agreement.
WECAFC is comprised of thirty-three countries and the European Union. The Members’ commitment to responsible fisheries is high. The Session is expected to adopt a Resolution “on the implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on flag State performance in the region” which encourages Workshop follow-up by all Members.