Regional PPPCR & CRFM Working to Make Caribbean Fisheries Climate-Smart

Fisheries experts from Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are working to make Caribbean fisheries climate-smart under the Regional Track of the Caribbean Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR).

The experts met at a workshop held in Kingstown, St Vincent on April 25 and 26 to explore options for climate-smart fisheries monitoring system and a related fisheries and environment database. The workshop was organized by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) to support the rollout of the Fishery-Related Ecological and Socio-Economic Impact Assessments and Monitoring System project. This project is an initiative under the Regional Track PPCR, funded by the Climate Investment Funds through the Inter-American Development Bank, and managed by the University of the West Indies’ Mona Office for Research and Innovation. The CRFM is a PPCR co-implementing partner.

The data-driven project has been developed in response to the serious threats facing Caribbean fisheries due to climate change. These threats include coastal erosion which is compromising important fish landing beach sites and rising sea levels and more intense storms systems which cause major damage to fish habitats and reduce fishery access and assets.

Recognising the complexity of these problems, and the need for a comprehensive and collaborative from the sector, the workshop focused on developing a shared understanding of the impact of climate change on the ecological and socio-economic components of fisheries systems across the Caribbean. This shared understanding is a critical first step towards exploring options for climate-smart fisheries monitoring system and related fisheries and environment database.

The fisheries project itself focuses on information strengthening to facilitate climate-smart planning for the sector, an area of critical importance according to Julian Defoe, Senior Fisheries Officer from Dominica who attended the workshop.

“After the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Dominica discovered that there was a serious data void. The gaps in the availability of relevant data and information in some instances have hampered strategic interventions in the emergency recovery phase. The most critical outcome of this project will be a comprehensive ecological assessment. This is something that Dominica absolutely needs in order to recover, and more so as we aim to become the first climate resilient country in the world,” Mr. Defoe said.

Over the two day event, participants worked to select pilot study sites for local project activities and discussed the development of a climate-smart monitoring system. They also examined options for strengthening communication to improve knowledge, awareness, and practices for climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction responses in the Caribbean fisheries sector. The workshop took steps towards establishing a CRFM PPCR Project Working Group, to support work under the Fisheries sub-component of the Regional PPCR.

Dr. Susan Singh-Renton, Deputy Executive Director of the CRFM Secretariat, underscored the importance of the project working group: “The Caribbean faces a number of common challenges, and so it makes sense for us to work together as a group. The Working Group will allow experts who have a good local knowledge to commit to the project for a period of two years…and as the project evolves, members will have opportunities to learn about the new methods and tools required for climate-smart fisheries monitoring and management.”