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Large pelagic fish are important to the small-scale, commercial and recreational fisheries in many Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries. They are seen as an area with potential for growth. As most are transboundary, their management requires collaboration among countries in the context of international fisheries agreements. The FAO Technical Cooperation Programme project described in this report (TCP/RLA/0070) sought to assist CARICOM countries in formulating an approach to the development and management of large pelagic fisheries. The approach involved two thrusts, addressing each group of large pelagics: oceanic and coastal. For oceanic species, the need for and modes of direct involvement in the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) were identified and explored. For coastal large pelagic species, largely within the western central Atlantic, the need for a regional arrangement emerged. This could be a subsidiary of ICCAT, or a separate entity with close collaboration if ICCAT is willing to delegate its responsibility for coastal species.

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), recently established by CARICOM, can play a key role in both thrusts. For oceanic species, it can coordinate and provide technical support for member-country participation in ICCAT. It can also explore possible approaches to collective representation. For coastal species, the CRFM can take the lead in establishing the regional arrangement and in pursuing the linkages - among CARICOM members, other regional fishing countries and distant water fishing countries - that will be essential for such an arrangement to succeed.

In developing the approach to management of large pelagics, the project compiled and reviewed a wide range of material on large pelagic fisheries in the Caribbean. This included status of resources, fishery harvest and post-harvest sectors, status of national and regional management initiatives and the extent to which countries are engaged in international management activities such as those undertaken by ICCAT.

Mahon, R.; McConney, P.A. (eds.)
Management of large pelagic fisheries in CARICOM countries.
FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 464. Rome, FAO. 2004. 149p.

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