Regional action on lionfish, Sargassum seaweed, in works
BELIZE CITY, Belize; Monday June 25, 2012 – The need for a coordinated regional action to control the negative impact of the predatory lionfish on Caribbean sea life, especially fish stock, has been placed on the agendas of Caribbean governments.
This has been one of the outcomes of the recently concluded Sixth Meeting of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Ministerial Council in Nassau, The Bahamas.
According to a media release from the CRFM this need to join forces to fight the invasive species that has been working its way down the island chain over the past year was highlighted, along with the need for governments to also coordinate to tackle the negative impact of the unprecedented amount of Sargassum seaweed that has inundated the waters and coastline of the Eastern Caribbean Islands since the latter half of 2011.
The fisheries ministers of the Caribbean noted with grave concern the reappearance of the seaweed this year and urged CRFM Member States to monitor the situation closely and take preparatory action to minimize disruption to fisheries and other economic activities in the coastal areas, should the phenomenon also pose a problem this year.
The meeting of the Council also focused on the development of a strategy and action plan on disaster management and climate change for fishing communities, and actions to better mitigate impacts on marine resources and livelihoods of fishers and fishing communities.
A regional study on poverty in fishing communities carried out with technical support from Spain that made recommendations for reducing poverty and vulnerability in fishing communities was also received and endorsed by the fisheries ministers; along with the recommendations of a study to prepare a master plan for sustainable use of coastal resources, undertaken with technical assistance from Japan.
CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton, who has worked in fisheries management for over 25 years, noted the results of numerous studies that have confirmed the health benefits of eating fish each week. He pointed to brain development in children and brain health in adults; as well as a lower risk of asthma, dementia, depression and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, stroke and heart disease.
The release stated that the Council also urged CRFM Member States to strengthen the implementation of international fisheries instruments, as well as their national legislation to help combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the region.
Outgoing chairman of the Ministerial Council, Minister Hilston Baptiste of Antigua and Barbuda, urged the incoming chairman Alfred Gray, recently appointed Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government in The Bahamas, to provide strong and decisive leadership so that the CRFM would remain relevant to the needs of the region.