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Concerns About Fisheries Management in the Western Central Atlantic

Sustainability Politics

GLOBAL - The "Workshop to Validate the Review of Current Fisheries Management Performance and Conservation Measures in the Western Central Atlantic Region" was held in Jamaica on 8 December 2012.

Preliminary findings point to concerns about the status of the legal processes in fisheries, particularly in the 16 countries that participated in the survey, according to the FAO. It appears that many fisheries sector laws currently in place do not require fisheries managers to make decisions based on necessary scientific evidence.

Only 56 per cent of countries and territories surveyed had incorporated stock assessments requirements into their legislation. Moreover, social impact analyses, analysis by regional fisheries bodies and economic analyses were among those types of analyses least required by the national legislation for making management decisions in fisheries. Consequently, the legal framework for the implementation of fisheries management and conservation measures appears to be limited and non-specific in many of the countries in the region.

This is in sharp contrast to the emergence and adoption of several international fisheries instruments by the countries concerned - international instruments that make specific provisions regarding preservation of resource health, biodiversity and the associated ecosystems, and hence which provide paradigms for sustainable fisheries management.

The review also shows that many major fisheries are not tied to any formal management plans. Fisheries specific management plans have been developed for only 60 per cent of commercial and small-scale fisheries and for very few recreational fisheries (14 per cent). In cases where formal fisheries management plans do exist, overfishing is not defined which can hamper formal treatment of this problem, considered to be common.

More findings from the study will be shared after discussion at the 11th CRFM Fisheries Forum meeting to be held in Barbados in May 2013. By then there will be additional findings on the management performance status in the region and recommendations for resolving the issues will be showing a way forward for the region.