Caribbean fisheries officers get up stand up for maritime protection

Caribbean fisheries officers get up stand up for maritime protection

Maritime experts are helping small Caribbean nations manage and protect fisheries from a range of illegal and unsustainable fishing practices and environmental threats that are putting the food security and income of thousands of people at risk.

Seventeen senior fisheries officers (pictured above) from 10 Caribbean nations this month took part in the Fisheries Law and Management Course through the Australia Awards Fellowships funded by the Australian Government and hosted by UOW.

The Fellowship offered participants a five-week professional development program at UOW’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS).

It will help the officers strengthen efforts to uphold and enforce sustainable fisheries practices within their country and region in the face of a variety of pressures on fishing and the marine environment.

These unsustainable practices include encroachment by foreign fishing vessels; catches that are unreported or misreported to the local governing agency;
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation report, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2014, cites research that estimates the losses attributed to illegal fishing at between US$10 billion to US$23 billion per year globally .

Professor Alistair McIlgorm, from ANCORS, said that globally illegal and unsustainable fishing practices put at risk the livelihoods of thousands of people who fish legitimately, either commercially or subsistence fishing.

“Small coastal communities in the Caribbean are dependent on the region’s waters for a host of important reasons, including regional food security, employment and social well-being,” he said.

“Yet there are serious regional challenges from overfishing and depletion of stocks, destructive fishing practices as well as effects on the marine environment from land-based pollution, climate on the marine environment and other human activities such as cruise ship traffic and oil drilling.”

Professor McIlgorm said illegal fishing operations were often highly organised and difficult to detect, making cooperation by nations within the region vital to enforcing more sustainable practices.

“Caribbean nations often do not have the monitoring, control and surveillance resources to enforce fishing zones,” he said. “Better cooperation through the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and harmonisation of rules between these nations will go someway toward maintaining fisheries for future generations.”

Along with instruction in international marine environmental law, and economics and biology of fisheries management, the officers visited Jervis Bay Marine Park to observe marine conservation management in action. The Fellows will also be hosted by several key Australian Government agencies in Canberra meeting Australian Government officials, including customs officers, being able to observe Australian approaches to fisheries law and management.