CRFM Secretariat, Belize City, Wed. 25 June 2014—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Secretariat in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, hosted the 10th Annual Scientific Meeting from June 10 to 17, 2014. Thirteen CRFM Member States: Anguilla, Belize, Grenada, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands, participated in this year’s meeting.
The meeting benefitted from technical support provided by Professor John Hoenig, Consultant, Professor of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science; Nancie Cummings, Fisheries Expert at US National Marine Fisheries Service; Professor Hazel Oxenford from the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies, UWI, Cave Hill campus; and Dr. Paul Medley, International Fisheries Consultant from the UK.
In its efforts to build the Caribbean's capacity for the statistical analysis of fisheries data, so as to improve on the information base available for informed fisheries management decisions, the Secretariat facilitated training for twelve persons under the activities of the CRFM Data, Methods and Training Working Group. This Working Group initiated efforts to identify and agree upon the ten most important commercial fisheries in the region to be analysed or assessed in the future, and for which the management performance will be monitored and evaluated on a regular basis.
The group also committed to updating national fisheries sampling plans to improve the quality of the data available for fisheries analyses and stock assessments in the coming years, and provided recommendations for further training and use of available ICT tools to share information on best practises in the use of statistical software for fisheries analyses.
Under the auspices of the Pelagic Fisheries and Reef and Slope Fisheries Working Groups, data were analysed for the scad fishery in Dominica, the dolphinfish fishery in St Lucia, the large pelagic fishery in Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines, the pelagic fishery in St Kitts and Nevis, the longline fishery in Trinidad and Tobago, the reef fishery in Anguilla, the needlefish fishery in Montserrat, the mutton snapper fishery in Belize, and the Queen Conch fishery in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Reef and Slope Fisheries Working Group also developed specific weight conversion factors for the Queen Conch in Belize and the Bahamas, to fulfil trade requirements under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Working Group intends to conduct further analyses in the inter-sessional period. It also reviewed and endorsed the 2013 assessment of the Pedro Bank (Jamaica) Queen Conch fishery and the respective, estimated total allowable catch, and it provided scientific inputs to a proposed draft regional declaration for the management, conservation and sustainable use of the spiny lobster.
Fisheries Working Group reviewed and endorsed the rules developed for management of the Guyana seabob fishery. The group considered specific measures to improve data collection and monitoring of the fishery, as well as to address issues of by-catch in trawl gear.
In support of Guyana’s attempts to boost trade through ‘sustainable fishery certification’ by the Marine Stewardship Council, the Continental Shelf
Data collection, quality control, data preparation for analysis, and analytical methods were the general areas highlighted for attention during the inter-sessional period. Specific priority areas include improving the quality of regional data for the blackfin tuna, in support of the CRFM’s contribution to the 2015 stock assessment to be conducted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas; improving data collection systems to facilitate the implementation of the Sub-regional Fisheries Management Plan for the Eastern Caribbean Flyingfish endorsed by the CRFM Ministerial Council on 23 May 2014; developing a data collection and information system for fisheries which use fish aggregating devices; and collecting and analysing data on the lionfish. Training of data collectors, improvements in national data collection programmes and stakeholder awareness building on the importance of data collection were other critical areas identified for attention.
Regional scientists, following the intensive one-week period, returned to their respective countries with a renewed sense of commitment and dedication to begin work during the inter-sessional period in preparation for next year’s scientific meeting. In keeping with international best practice, the outputs of the meeting will be posted on the CRFM’s website (www.crfm.int) and shared nationally and regionally with a range of stakeholders, including decision makers associated with the fishing industry.