The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), the UK government’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO) all had representatives visit the BVI for these meetings.
They held talks with fishers on Anegada, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and the main island of Tortola and a prevailing sentiment from the local fisherfolk was their interest in ‘organising’.
“They understand the benefits but need support. We are hopeful that fishers will organise, create a local fishers network and ultimately join CNFO,” Chairman of the CNFO, Adrian La-Roda reported.
According to Dr Peter Randall of Cefas, the interaction had with fishers provided what he described as valuable insight on both the nature of local fisheries and “on the prevalence of Abandoned, Lost and otherwise Discarded Fishing Gear around the Virgin Islands (also known as Ghostgear)”.
He said the responses from the fisherfolk will be fed into a fisheries evidence report which identifies key issues and gaps for fisheries management locally.
The aforementioned meetings were part of the Darwin Plus-funded project called ‘Capacity Building in Fisheries Evidence, Networks and Management in the Virgin Islands’.
A media release from the Department of Agriculture & Fisheries, which facilitated the project, said the initiative began all the way back in 2020 to strengthen fisherfolk capacity and engagement in sustainable fisheries management including supporting the development of a formalised network of fisherfolk to enable a collective voice and greater participation in decision-making.
“The project also reviews and merges existing evidence, data and maps for the marine areas and creates a centralised fisheries database and a fisheries evidence report to improve the capture and display of fisheries data to support future licensing and management decisions,” the release stated.