Fishers across the country are being implored to utilise sustainable practices to safeguard the future of the industry.
These include preserving habitats, allowing fish to reach maturity before capture, respecting closed seasons and sanctuaries, as well as diversifying the sources of fish.
Executive Director of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation, Ingrid Parchment, in making the appeal, noted that there are fisheries that are using unsustainable methods, such as dynamite and nets that capture young fish.
“There are some fishers who are taking everything and destroying the habitat of the fish, removing the grass at the bottom of the sea and the baby fish. Some of them are not even allowing the fish to grow to a certain size,” she told JIS News.
She also urged persons to refrain from fishing in sanctuaries that have been established to replenish fish stock.
“Fish sanctuaries are areas in which you are not supposed to go in and fish, but there are still persons who do it. The sanctuary is supposed to create a habitat for fish to grow and when they swim out, that is when the fishers can catch them,” she pointed out.
Ms. Parchment further appealed to fishers and the wider public to respect the closed seasons, which have been implemented to allow for fish and marine life to spawn.
“When it is closed season for lobster, don’t catch them, especially when you find a lobster with eggs. That’s not a lobster that you are supposed to be fishing. Don’t harvest conch in the closed season. We appreciate, understand and we love what it is our fishers are doing for our economy and our society, but we want them to do it in a way that is safe and is sustainable,” she said.
Ms. Parchment said that protecting fish, and their ecosystems is synonymous with protecting livelihoods.
“Everything works together. If you cut down the wetlands, when we have storm events it will cut down the habitat of fish. The idea of conserving and protecting lives and livelihoods is important because what’s happening on land affects what’s happening in the water,” she pointed out. The year 2022 has been declared by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, (IYAFA 2022).
The observance places focus on safeguarding the fisheries sector and strengthening the efforts of fishers, fish farmers and fish workers.