Regional Media further Sensitize to Sustainable Use of Marine Resources
Monday, May 23, 2005 – The people of the region are to be further sensitized on the broad issues of sustainable use of the Caribbean’s marine resources. A two-day media sensitisation symposium held recently at the Marriott Resort in the St. Kitts and Nevis, drew representation from over two dozen regional journalists, who were brought up-to-date on the latest data coming out of research conducted by regional marine experts.
St. Lucia’s Chief Fisheries Officer Vaughan Charles, one of the resource persons to the symposium says the new data, currently being collected via a five-year Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) funded project in the OECS, will play a critical role in solidifying the Caribbean’s position at international fora such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
“We have to abide by what the science tells us and not by emotions,” the career fisheries official commented. “For a long time the other side and by that I mean the anti-whaling groups, conservationists and the like, lean and play on the emotions of the peoples of the region. They take whatever marine species that is important to us and turn them into cartoon characters in order to appeal to young people and others with various sensitivities to cause them to reject our traditional positions on the use of marine resources. However the science is what will dictate how we manage the resources of the region and this is why the research is so important,” says Mr. Charles.
St. Kitts & Nevis for its part is already laying the ground work for its historic hosting of next year’s IWC 58, one of the highest decision making fora affecting fisheries management the world over. With Caribbean states having been accused of “selling out” to Japan and other major whaling countries, regional Agriculture Ministers say now more than ever, the region’s position on whaling and other sustainable marine activities must be brought home to Caribbean folk.
St. Kitts and Nevis Minster for Housing, Agriculture, Fisheries and Consumer Affairs Honourable Cedric Liburd, believes that the media must play a significant role in national development. As his country prepares to stop production and export of sugar cane with the 2004 harvest being the last, and having overheads of over three hundred million dollars (EC$300 million), Minister Liburd says moves towards diversification of which fisheries will play a major role, can only succeed if all stakeholders, including the media, are keenly aware of all the issues and their impacts on the Caribbean.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Antigua/Barbuda’s Minister for Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries Honourable Joanne Massiah. According to Minister Massiah, “As an island which naturally is surrounded by water with a strong fishing tradition, we see such a symposium in our best interest so that our people at home can understand in greater detail the issues which the international community are concerned about and why it is that we have formed certain alliances in the interest of the people of Antigua/Barbuda and in the interest of the people of the Caribbean,”
One of the co-ordinators of the symposium, fisheries expert Daven Joseph of Antigua and Barbuda says anti-whaling groups and conservationists have lobbied vigorously and in some cases resorted to threats of intimidation, tourist boycotts and violence against Caribbean fishers for the region’s position on whaling and its support for other nations who harvest marine mammals for commercial use. Mr. Joseph says the region’s efforts at defending its position should be taken up with similar determination.