1. "Towards greater cooperation in the management and utilization of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster" was the theme of the second management workshop, which was a continuation of the work undertaken by the first Workshop on Management of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster Fisheries in the WECAFC area held in September 2000 in Merida, Mexico.
2. The Second Workshop on the Management of Caribbean Spiny Lobster Fisheries in the WECAFC Area was sponsored by the FAO FishCode Programme of Global Partnerships for Responsible Fisheries under component projects "Management for Responsible Fisheries" (GCP/INT/648/NOR), with funding from Norway, and "Responsible Fisheries for Small Island Developing States" (GCP/INT/823JPN), with funding from Japan. It was held under the auspices of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) and organized with the assistance of the Centro de Investigaciones Pesqueras (CIP) in Havana, Cuba.
3. The Second Workshop consisted of two meetings: a "Scientific Workshop" (30 September to 3 October) and a "Meeting of Decision Makers" (4 October). All scientists took part in both meetings, while some decision makers also attended the Scientific Workshop. Several decision makers could not attend the Meeting of Decision Makers due to flight cancellations.
4. The Agenda of the Second Workshop is given in Appendix A, and the list of participants in Appendix B.
5. The Scientific Workshop was basically the fourth meeting of the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster. Previous meetings were held in Belize City, Belize, 1997 and Merida, Mexico in 1998 and 2000. Documentation on those earlier meetings is given in Appendix C.
6. The Scientific Workshop was devoted to the following:
finalizing and presenting national reports of each country;
preparing subregional syntheses and integrating these into a regional report considering the status of the resource and fisheries, and identifying the priority management and research requirements in each subregion;
preparing the elements of National Statements to be delivered by the Decision Makers at their Meeting on Friday 4 October.
7. The Meeting of Decision Makers had the following objectives:
to obtain up-to-date information on the status of the spiny lobster resource and the fisheries that depend on it in each country and in the region as a whole;
to consider policy options and management measures at national and regional levels;
to address the sustainable utilization of the spiny lobster resource;
to identify appropriate strategies for the implementation of effective cooperation in research and management of the spiny lobster resource in the WECAFC area.
8. The Scientific Workshop was held from 30 September to 3 October 2002 at the Centro de Investigaciones Pesqueras (CIP), Havana, Cuba, at the kind invitation of the Government of Cuba.
9. The Scientific Workshop was attended by fisheries scientists from the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Venezuela, as well as decision makers from Brazil and Mexico and observers from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba.
10. The participants were welcomed to Cuba and CIP by Ms Elisa Garcia, Director of the Centro de Investigaciones Pesqueras. She pointed out that the meeting provided an ideal opportunity for the countries of the WECAFC region to collaborate in determining the future of the spiny lobster fisheries of the region, using the best available scientific information generated by the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group. She wished the meeting success in its deliberations.
11. The Secretary of WECAFC, Mr Bisessar Chakalall, welcomed the participants on behalf of FAO, and expressed FAO's appreciation to the Government of Cuba for hosting the meeting. He emphasized the important role the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster is playing in promoting responsible fisheries in the subregion through regional cooperation.
12. The proposal of the participant from Colombia, that Mr Rafael Puga of Cuba be elected Chair, was unanimously accepted.
13. The Scientific Workshop adopted the Agenda that is given in Appendix A. The documents presented to the meeting are listed in Appendix C.
14. Prior to the Workshop, scientists were asked to prepare an update to the National Reports as published in FAO Fisheries Report No. 619 and, where possible, to also include socio and bio-economic data on the lobster fishery. The updated National Reports were finalized at the Workshop and are presented in Part II of this document in the original language only.
15. The Scientific Workshop acknowledged that progress had been made since the first Workshop on Management (Merida, 2000), but that many problems still remained concerning implementation of effective management. Therefore it was agreed that, in general, the Conclusions and Recommendations of that first Workshop still applied. The Workshop then discussed the following topics and highest priority problems and considered ways of resolving them.
16. Inadequate control and enforcement. Throughout the region there were concerns about inadequate enforcement of the existing regulations. In particular, the minimum size regulations were poorly implemented across the region, and in cases where there were restrictions on fishing effort, these were not always enforced. The Scientific Workshop recommended that all countries make stringent efforts to ensure the implementation and enforcement of their national regulations. The Scientific Workshop also recommended that in several areas, especially where neighbouring countries shared a common shelf, there would be substantial advantages for enforcement and impact of management regulations, if these neighbours harmonized management regulations dealing with measures such as minimum size at capture and closed seasons.
17. Excess effort in fisheries. In nearly all countries the fishing effort was estimated to be too high and, unless reduced, was leading to further declines in the abundance and productivity of the resource. It was therefore recommended that those countries with excess effort should urgently consider reducing it to sustainable levels.
18. Limitation of open access. One of the factors contributing to excess effort in several countries was that their fisheries, especially artisanal fisheries, were open access. Inevitably open access fisheries will be economically very inefficient and, unless strictly controlled, will also lead to over-exploitation of the resource. The Scientific Workshop recognized the serious social consequences that commonly accompanied limiting access in artisanal fisheries, but pointed out that maintaining open access fisheries would undoubtedly lead to even more serious social problems in the future, unless appropriate limits on effort were implemented urgently. Where an immediate reduction would not be possible, a freeze on any future growth could be a minimum first step.
19. Inadequate data collection. A worrying feature of all the meetings of the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group (1997, 1998, 2000 and 2002) had been that many countries did not even have reliable basic information on the landings and social and economic characteristics of their lobster fisheries. In some cases progress had been made when external funding was available, but all too often the monitoring programmes were discontinued as soon as the external funds were no longer available. Information on the status and dynamics of the resource and fisheries is essential for management and, in general, the greater the amount of relevant information and the greater its accuracy, the more effective will be the management of the fishery. The minimum data requirements for managing any fishery, as well as additional data that would allow more efficient management, are shown in Appendix D. The Scientific Workshop suggested that in many countries the problem stems from an absence of any national commitment to monitoring fisheries and, as a result, a lack of the structures and resources necessary for even basic monitoring. The Scientific Workshop stressed the absolute necessity of collecting sufficient information to monitor trends in the resources and fishery and recommended that in all cases where this was not being done, countries should implement rigorous and on-going monitoring programmes, expanding these to collect other desirable information where possible.
20. The role of scientific information. The purpose of collecting and processing fisheries data was to inform stakeholders and decision makers on the status of and developments in the fishery and biological resource. It was recommended that all countries should ensure that they had the capacity to analyse the data collected and to ensure timely provision of relevant information to the Decision Makers, so that decisions were based on the best scientific information available. The technical support given to countries participating in the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group through the FishCode project was designed to assist in improving this capacity.
21. Lack of political support. The Scientific Workshop was of the opinion that there was frequently a lack of political support for the implementation of management measures in national fisheries. Some countries also reported on political interference at the micro-level, hindering effective management. The Scientific Workshop recommended that the scientific authorities and the management agencies must work with the political decision makers to ensure political support for required management decisions and measures.
22. An absence of agreed and transparent policies and management plans. Many countries reported that there were no clearly stated policies for their lobster fisheries and no practical management plans that could be implemented. This absence would result in ad hoc decisions and inefficient utilization of the resource. In conjunction with the social and economic pressures on the resource, the end result would almost certainly be over-exploitation. The Scientific Workshop therefore recommended that all countries should work with their stakeholders to develop appropriate policies for their lobster fisheries, to translate these policies into management plans, and to implement effectively those policies and plans.
23. Cooperation in enforcement of regulations. The Scientific Workshop suggested that exporting countries that were encountering problems in enforcement could request the assistance of importing countries in ensuring that exporters comply with those regulations.
24. The need for wider communication. Several of the problems being experienced in formulating and implementing responsible management of the spiny lobster fisheries resulted from ignorance amongst the authorities and other stakeholders about the status of the resource and the principles of fisheries management. The Scientific Workshop therefore recommended that greater effort needed to be made at national and regional levels to communicate information to the general public, fishing groups, other stakeholders and decision makers, on the status of the resource and fisheries and their social and economic importance, contents of the management plans and the responsibilities of stakeholders. This should be done using means suitable for each target audience, including brochures, posters, etc.
25. Inadequate funding for research, monitoring and control. A lack of adequate funding was the primary cause of several of the problems listed above. It was recognized that many countries were facing considerable social and economic problems and that many other national needs were competing with fisheries for limited national funds. Nevertheless, the Scientific Workshop emphasized that ensuring sustainable fisheries required adequate resources and capacity. It was noted that fisheries generated incomes for many users and that some measure of 'user pays' should be considered, especially in the case of such a valuable resource as spiny lobster. It was also noted that many fisheries agencies were providing services to specific interest groups and that there were opportunities for cost recovery. The Scientific Workshop recommended that countries should consider recovering costs for services provided and invest sufficient of the revenues raised into fisheries management to ensure sustainable and productive fisheries.
26. The Scientific Workshop agreed that the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on the Caribbean Spiny Lobster fulfilled a very useful purpose in promoting sustainable utilization of the spiny lobster resource at both the national and regional levels. It was emphasized that while the member countries had different priorities and faced different problems, they were dealing with a common resource and had much in common in their fisheries. The Scientific Workshop therefore recommended that the national fisheries authorities and FAO should continue to support the effective functioning of the Working Group.
27. The Scientific Workshop agreed that common decisions arising from the Working Group could enjoy greater support and credibility from political decision makers than management recommendations made by fisheries agencies at the national level only.
28. The Scientific Workshop expressed its support for the existing method of operation of the Working Group. This consisted of the provision of some technical support at the national level, complemented by regular Scientific Workshops that report to a Meeting of Decision Makers.
29. The Scientific Workshop recommended that the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group should be seen as belonging to and being driven by its members. As a step in this direction, they supported the election of a Chair of the scientific component of the ad hoc Working Group from amongst the national participants. It was recommended that each country should nominate two members to be the contact people within their country for the scientific component. The Scientific Workshop also suggested that it would be useful if the Decision Makers were to elect a Chair of their component to facilitate on-going cooperation and exchange at that level, and between the two components.
30. It was agreed that the purpose of the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group was to assist the member countries and region as a whole in monitoring, reviewing and implementing effective management of the fisheries for spiny lobster. The activities of the national authorities in relation to spiny lobster and those of the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group should therefore be complementary and fully integrated. For these reasons, it was essential that work of the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group should be internalized as a part of the programme of the national fisheries agencies and not be seen as something external to national responsibilities and activities.
31. The Scientific Workshop suggested that countries consider the establishment of multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary national working groups to contribute to effective management for sustainable use of the resource. The activities of these national working groups should be linked to the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster, thus contributing to the effectiveness of both.
32. The importance and potential role of formal and informal cooperation by neighbouring countries at the subregional level was recognized by the Scientific Workshop, and countries were encouraged to cooperate at this level where appropriate. If such subregional groups wanted to operate in conjunction with the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group, then activities and meetings should be planned cooperatively as far as practicable.
33. Concern was expressed that the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group was not paying enough attention to the countries of the region producing smaller amounts of lobster. One country suggested that there could be advantages if subgroups were established comprising neighbouring small island lobster producing states such as Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It was suggested by Saint Lucia that FAO and regional agencies such as CRFM/CFU, could be requested to facilitate interaction between these countries and their participation in the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group.
34. The participants finalized draft national statements for consideration of their respective Minister/Decision Maker. These statements were based on the conclusions and recommendations of the national scientific reports and highlighted national policy and management options for the sustainable utilization of the Caribbean spiny lobster.
35. The Scientific Workshop agreed on the format and procedure for reporting to the decision makers, scheduled to meet on 4 October. The format is reflected in the report from the Scientific Workshop to the Meeting of Decision Makers (Appendix E). The meeting also agreed that each delegation would brief its Minister/Decision Maker prior to the Meeting on 4 October, using the National Report finalized at the Scientific Workshop (see Part II).
36. The meeting discussed a draft Joint Statement that was prepared for consideration and adoption by the Ministers/Decision Makers.
37. The Meeting of Decision Makers was held on 4 October 2002 at the Centro de Investigaciones Pesqueras, Havana, Cuba, at the kind invitation of the Government of Cuba.
38. Fisheries Ministers from Cuba and the Dominican Republic, Decision Makers from Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Venezuela, as well as participants in the Scientific Workshop and two observers from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), attended the meeting. The list of participants is given in Appendix B.
39. The participants were welcomed to Cuba and to the meeting by the Director of the Centro de Investigaciones Pesqueras (CIP), Ms Elisa Garcia.
40. On behalf of FAO, Mr Robayo Rodriguez, the FAO Representative in Cuba, expressed FAO's sincere appreciation to the Government of Cuba for hosting the meeting and for its generous hospitality. Mr Robayo noted that fisheries, including aquaculture provide a vital source of food, employment, trade, recreation and economic wellbeing for the people throughout the Western Central Atlantic Region, both for present and future generations, and should therefore be conducted in a responsible manner.
41. Mr Robayo mentioned that the spiny lobster fishery in the WECAFC region was estimated to be worth about US$500 million, ex-vessel value, and directly employed about 40 000 persons. He emphasized that the challenge and task of the meeting was to examine ways of managing the spiny lobster fishery in the WECAFC region so as to ensure that these social and economic benefits were sustained. He said that given the biology and life cycle of the spiny lobster, regional cooperation was essential to sustain these benefits. He wished the meeting success and hoped that the meeting would make significant steps towards regional cooperation and that it would build on the first workshop held in Merida, Mexico, in 2002, and the Letter of Intent signed at that meeting to support regional cooperation.
42. The Vice Minister of Fisheries of Cuba, Hon. Enrique Oltuski Osaki, welcomed the participants to the meeting and highlighted the following four points during his address:
the excellent work of the scientists during their four-day workshop and the spirit of cooperation they demonstrated;
the need to communicate the results of the two meetings to the Ministers responsible for fisheries in the WECAFC region and to the fishers and other stakeholders;
that the ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster had provided an excellent mechanism for promoting regional cooperation, technical exchange, sharing of information and experiences and training; and
that Cuba was ready to cooperate with the member countries of WECAFC to promote responsible and sustainable fisheries in the region.
43. Mr Julio Baisre, Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Ministerio de la Industria Pesquera (MIP) read the opening address of the Minister of Fisheries, Hon. Alfredo López Valdés, who had to attend an emergency meeting dealing with the damages caused to the fishery sector by successive hurricanes, "Kyle" and "Lili".
44. The Minister, in welcoming the participants to Cuba, noted that they had a critical role to play in achieving the sustainable utilization of the spiny lobster resource in the WECAFC region by providing management advice based on the best scientific information available. He noted that this management advice was of special importance to Cuba because spiny lobster was the most important fishery resource for Cuba from a social and economic perspective. He noted that Cuba produced an average of 10 000 tonnes of spiny lobster per year at a net value of over US$70 million. He observed that the catches in Cuba have been declining over the last few years in spite of the various management measures that were implemented. He emphasized that Cuba was trying to optimize the earnings from this fishery through adding value e.g. the exportation of live lobsters, rather than by increasing landings.
45. The Minister expressed the hope that the results and recommendations of the meeting would be translated into effective management of the spiny lobster fishery in the region through the member countries of WECAFC. This should ultimately lead to achieving maximum and sustainable social and economic benefits from the most valuable fishery in the region.
46. He encouraged the ad hoc Working Group to continue and improve their work in order to provide decision makers with the best available scientific information necessary to make policy and fisheries management decisions that would lead to sustainable spiny lobster fisheries in the WECAFC region. He wished the meeting success in its deliberations.
47. The Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture of MIP, Cuba, Mr Julio Baisre was elected as Chair of the meeting.
48. The meeting adopted the Agenda for the Meeting of Decision Makers presented in Appendix A.
49. The Chair of the Scientific Workshop, Mr Rafael Puga, presented a regional overview of the status of the spiny lobster resource and fisheries (Appendix E), based on the national and subregional reports developed at the Scientific Workshop (see Part II and Appendix F). He referred to the great social and economic value of the spiny lobster in the region. The average annual landings for 1992-2001 were 36 827 tonnes with an estimated value of 500 million US dollars. There were estimated to be 58 000 fishers, but also nearly 200 000 others working in positions related to the lobster fishery.
50. Mr Puga reported that the most common management measures used in the region were minimum sizes and closed seasons. Minimum sizes varied in the region from 69-120 mm cephalothorax length (CL), while the closed seasons varied in length, falling between January and October, but most commonly falling between March and August. However, most of these management measures were not being strictly enforced. In addition, most of the fisheries for the lobster in the region were artisanal open-access fisheries. As a result of these conditions, the spiny lobster resource is over-exploited over most of its range, giving rise to both biological and economic concerns.
51. Based on these results, the Scientific Workshop put forward a number of recommendations regarding management of the lobster fisheries, including:
that the existing management measures must be enforced, and that countries should cooperate and assist each other in enforcement of management measures where possible;
that fishing countries should urgently consider reducing effort in their fisheries including limiting access in open access fisheries with an accompanying reduction, or at least freezing of current effort;
that it is essential that all countries develop suitable systems for sustained monitoring of the resource and fisheries and analysis of the data collected, where these were not already in existence.
52. The Scientific Workshop also made some recommendations addressing broader policy matters related to the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on the Caribbean Spiny Lobster. It emphasized the importance of working with all stakeholders to develop suitable policies and management plans for immediate implementation. It was also essential to communicate the results of the scientific analyses to the decision makers and other stakeholders. The other recommendations can be found in the report of the Scientific Workshop.
53. Mr Puga also reported on the proposals made at the Scientific Workshop for the future work of the ad hoc Working Group (see paragraphs 25-32). The Scientific Workshop had agreed that the ad hoc Working Group has been very useful to promote the sustainable use of the spiny lobster in the region and the member countries, and the importance of combining technical support at the national level with a Scientific Workshop reporting to a meeting of Decision Makers. The Scientific Workshop recommended that a greater sense of national ownership of the Working Group should be developed through the establishment of national working groups on lobster in each country and the appointment of two national focal points. It also recommended the election of a Chair and that FAO should continue its support of the ad hoc Working Group.
54. The Representative of Venezuela pointed out that the report of the Scientific Workshop had not addressed the social organization of the fishing groups. He pointed out that the fisheries were valuable, however, not to the fishers, but to the next level at which the distribution and marketing of the product took place. The countries would need to work with and establish appropriate regulations of this level. There was therefore a need to investigate the market chains and the profit margins at each level. Further, there was a need to promote the co-management of the fisheries by the fishing interest groups. It was also pointed out that little was known about the standards of living of the artisanal fishers and that this needed to be investigated, contributing to the implementation of strategies for social development of these fishers.
55. Mr Juan Carlos Seijo provided a summary of the principles of responsible management through a presentation on "Some considerations for responsible management of spiny lobster fisheries in the WECAFC region" (Appendix G). He emphasized that fisheries management needed to consider the whole stock over its entire area of distribution. In the case of the transboundary spiny lobster resource, this would require good cooperation between the lobster fishing nations of the WECAFC region. Management should be based on the best scientific information available and joint stock assessment and bio-economic analyses by these countries was the best way to generate this information. Similarly, cooperation between the countries in surveillance and enforcement would substantially improve the effectiveness of these activities. It is essential to involve the stakeholders in management of the fisheries, and management should be transparent at the national and regional levels.
56. He suggested that the primary causes of over-capacity and over-exploitation in the case of the Caribbean spiny lobster included the following: 1) the characteristics of the resource; 2) inadequate property rights regimes; 3) ineffective monitoring, control and surveillance; and 4) subsidies to the fishers.
57. The Minister of Cuba asked what practical steps could be taken to implement cooperative management of the shared stocks. He stated that Cuba had recognized the urgent need to cooperate with the other countries in the region but that this had proven difficult to achieve. He looked to the ad hoc Working Group to facilitate such cooperation both throughout the region and in appropriate subgroups of neighbouring countries.
58. Representatives of all countries participating in the Meeting of Decision Makers presented National Statements. Those that were made available are included in Appendix H. The statements reflected strong support for the on-going and strengthened functioning of the ad hoc Working Group. In this regard, several statements referred to and reaffirmed the Letter of Intent developed in Mérida in 2000.
59. The Minister of Fisheries of Cuba, Hon. Alfredo López Valdés made the following observations:
research has indicated that the stocks of Caribbean spiny lobster in the WECAFC region may be interlinked and thus regional cooperation was necessary for its sustainable utilization;
cooperative long term planning and management at the WECAFC regional level was required for the Caribbean spiny lobster;
the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster provided an excellent vehicle for promoting regional cooperation and should be promoted and strengthened at the political level;
the results of the Scientific Workshop and Decision Makers' Meeting should be communicated to the Ministers responsible for fisheries in lobster-producing countries of the region; and
the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster should also address other aspects of the spiny lobster fishery, such as marketing.
60. The Minister, in noting that Cuba was elected as Chair for the Decision Makers' Meeting, made the following proposals for activities in the inter-sessional period:
as chairperson, he offered to forward a copy of the report of the Scientific Workshop and Decision Makers' Meeting to the Ministers responsible for fisheries in the countries participating in the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster;
he offered the facilities and technical staff of the Centro de Investigaciones Pesqueras to FAO and the ad hoc Working Group to conduct research on spiny lobster fisheries;
he offered technical assistance to member countries of the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster, either bilaterally as Cuba is currently doing, or through the ad hoc Working Group; and
as chairperson, he offered to promote regional cooperation for the management of the spiny lobster and the work of the ad hoc Working Group at the political level in the region.
61. The Meeting unanimously accepted the kind offers of the Hon. Minister of Fisheries of Cuba.
62. The Vice Minister from the Dominican Republic proposed that the report and recommendations of this meeting of the ad hoc Working Group should be submitted to the FAO Committee of Fisheries (COFI) meeting in February 2003. This proposal was accepted by the meeting. The FAO Secretariat stated that it would be necessary to clarify with the Secretary of COFI the correct procedure for making such an intervention.
63. The Decision Makers Meeting discussed the importance of exchange of relevant information between countries, and the establishment of an Internet site for the deposition and access of information on this topic was proposed and widely supported. The Representative of Colombia indicated that his country would be interested in initiating this activity. Other members emphasized that this must also be supplemented by further meetings for the exchange of expertise and experience.
64. The Meeting of Decision Makers agreed on the following statement:
65. We, the Ministers responsible for fisheries and the Decision Makers participating in the Second Workshop on the Management of Caribbean Spiny Lobster Fisheries in the WECAFC Area (Havana, Cuba, 30 September-4 October 2002), organized by FAO and the Government of the Republic of Cuba, recognize the substantial social and economic importance to our countries of the Caribbean spiny lobster resource and the fisheries that depend on it. We agree that securing sustainable management of spiny lobster fisheries in the WECAFC area is very important for the attainment of national economic and social development goals, and for the well being and livelihoods of individuals and families dependent on these fisheries.
66. We reaffirm our commitment to the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. We are aware that it is our duty to ensure that the living marine resources of the WECAFC region, including the spiny lobster resource, are utilized and managed in a sustainable and environmentally acceptable manner to meet the high demand for fish in our region and to sustain the significant contribution of these resources to the economies of our countries. We also take note of the particular importance of the Caribbean spiny lobster, one of the most valuable fisheries resources in the region.
67. We take note of the Conclusions and Recommendations of the First Workshop on Management of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) Fisheries in the Area of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (Merida, Mexico, September 2000) and of the Letter of Intent signed by the Representatives of 12 countries at that Workshop. We recognize that while some progress has been made in addressing these Recommendations and Conclusions, much still remains to be done and that in much of the region, problems in the fisheries and their management continue to threaten the sustainable utilization of the resource. We also reaffirm our interest in strengthening cooperation between the lobster fishing nations of WECAFC, through both formal and informal cooperation at bilateral, subregional and regional levels.
68. We note that the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) provides the countries with a neutral forum and mechanism for regional cooperation in fisheries management and conservation. We support the important role played by the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster, within the framework of WECAFC, in providing an effective mechanism for the interaction of fisheries managers, scientists and decision makers at the regional level, and for the generation and sharing of scientific information and analyses essential for responsible management of the valuable Caribbean spiny lobster resource. We undertake to support the full participation of our respective countries in the activities of the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster and to seriously consider ways to strengthen the Working Group and to make it self-sufficient over time.
69. We have taken note of the status of the Caribbean spiny lobster resources and the signs of over-exploitation in a number of the national fisheries for spiny lobster in the WECAFC region, as outlined in the national and regional reports prepared, and the recommendations on policy, management and research generated by the Scientific Workshop. We take note of the remedial options suggested by the ad hoc Working Group. We undertake to consider these recommendations seriously in formulating our national strategies for the management of our Caribbean spiny lobster fisheries.
70. We recognize the importance of establishing clear policies and objectives for our Caribbean spiny lobster fisheries and developing management strategies to facilitate attaining those objectives. We also acknowledge the need for the fishers, fishing industry and other stakeholders to be informed, consulted and involved in designing and implementing fishery management policies, plans and strategies, in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
71. In accordance with the Merida Letter of Intent, we reaffirm the importance of scientific information in fisheries management. Recognising this importance, we take note of the national reports for each of our countries and the regional report of the Scientific Workshop, as well as the recommendations made by the Scientific Workshop on "Improving the effectiveness of national lobster management and of the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group" and "The future work of the ad hoc Working Group". We undertake to consider seriously the implications of this work and the recommendations for management at the national and international level, and to work towards their implementation as appropriate, taking into account the broader social, economic and political considerations and constraints.
72. We express our appreciation for the support provided by FAO through the FishCode Programme to the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster and call on FAO to consider maintaining its support to the ad hoc Working Group.
73. The meeting adopted the statement.
74. The meeting agreed that Scientists and Decision Makers of the member countries of the WECAFC ad hoc Working Group on Caribbean Spiny Lobster should meet regularly. The timing of the meeting would depend on the progress made by the ad hoc Working Group. Brazil and Mexico offered to host the next meeting. The meeting agreed that the two countries and the Secretary of WECAFC, in consultation with the Chairpersons, would decide on the venue and dates for the next meeting.
75. The Meeting considered the report and adopted it on 4 October 2002.
 See Annex V of FAO
Fisheries Report No. 643.|
 See Annex V of FAO Fisheries Report No. 643.
 See Annex V of FAO Fisheries Report No. 643.