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FAO Engages in Consultation with Stakeholders to Draft National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks in Antigua and Barbuda

Participants engage in drafting the National Plan of Action on Sharks at the Consultation Workshop held 11 March 2015

Participants engage in drafting the National Plan of Action on Sharks at the Consultation Workshop held 11 March 2015

(Bridgetown, 16 April 2015) Efforts to conserve and manage the shark species in Antigua and Barbuda are making steady progress thanks to a series of consultative workshops aimed at reviewing a Draft National Plan of Action on Sharks (NPOA-Sharks). The workshops, which were organised by the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and held 11, 17 and 25 March 2015 in Saint John ́s, Antigua and Barbuda, included the participation of 63 representatives in total and stakeholders from government, the fishery sector, management units, NGOs and civil society.

A first draft of the NPOA-Sharks was used as a basis for discussions that were conducted during the series of the three consultation workshops.

The participants contributed to the improvement of the general outline of the NPOA- Sharks and reviewed the objectives, targets and activities of five lines of action. The lines of action include: fisheries research; monitoring; responsible fishing practices, governance and legislation; participation and education and communication with the relevant communities.

Amongst the issues that emerged at the workshops include: the incorporation of fishers and other stakeholders´ knowledge in fisheries research, the utilisation of dead sharks through the use of the skin and other by-products, the promotion of the shark diving industry and best practices in ecotourism. Several important recommendations emerged from the workshop: the appointment of a national focal point on shark-related issues and the strengthening of data collection and knowledge management through socioeconomic studies in the area of fisheries.

A representative from the Customs Department emphasised the need for the staff of that department to be trained in taxonomy and in the identification of the marine species and seafood products that are exported for sale.

There was also strong consensus that the implementation of education and communication activities on shark biology and appropriate communication practices are highly needed.

Efforts to ensure the sustainable use of shark resources are being managed through a joint collaboration between the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs and the Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

 

It is anticipated that the National Plan will be completed in April 2015 and formally approved by the Ministry in the coming months. 

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