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Experts meet to improve regional management of Caribbean billfish resources through innovative approaches

54 experts from over 20 countries from the Caribbean and the USA met in Panama City on November 9, 2015 for a three day workshop on Caribbean Billfish Fisheries Management and Conservation.

(Panama City, 11 November, 2015) – 54 experts from over 20 countries from the Caribbean and the USA met in Panama City on November 9, 2015 for a three day workshop on Caribbean Billfish Fisheries Management and Conservation.

The workshop  was co-sponsored by the World Bank's Ocean Partnership Programme, Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC),  and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) during the 68th Conference of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI).

Billfish species (blue and white marlin, sailfish and spearfish) make significant contributions to Caribbean economies, livelihoods, and food security through commercial and recreational fisheries. Billfish are also important incidental by-catch species from large scale tuna long-line fisheries operating both within and beyond national jurisdictions. Collective action by Caribbean nations to improve management and conservation of regional billfish resources and to influence decision making at the international level, offer significant opportunities.

During the workshop, attendees:

  • Increased their awareness and understanding of the Caribbean Billfish Project:  a 1.95 million USD project to develop business plans for two pilot projects to create sustainable management and conservation of billfish within the Western Central Atlantic Ocean. The completed business plans will incorporate the economic, technical and financial rationale and feasibility to attract investment involving private and public capital among major fisheries sector stakeholders.
  • Presented and reviewed preliminary results of current studies on: the status of the resources and billfish fisheries in the wider Caribbean fisheries; the value of billfish resources to both commercial and recreational fisheries; the application of the Manual on Economic Impact Assessment of Recreational Fisheries in Martinique and The Bahamas; and the initial findings of an assessment of the fisheries legislative frameworks in the Caribbean.
  • Presented and discussed draft components of a Regional Billfish Fisheries Management and Conservation Plan, and discussed management objectives and potential regional management measures.
  • Selected two countries for the pilot trials (Grenada and Dominican Republic) to test and validate innovative management arrangements (including some rights based approaches).

Immediately following the conclusion of the workshop, the Project Steering Committee reviewed the  progress and implementation of the Caribbean Billfish Project and adopted the budget and the 2016 work plan. The Project Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from the World Bank, FAO, the International Gamefish Association (IGFA), Conservation International (CI), and pilot trial country delegates.

The final day concluded with a meeting of the Consortium of Billfish Management and Conservation (CBMC) which is the advisory body to the Caribbean Billfish Project that promotes stakeholders´ participation and provides advice for improving billfish fisheries management through innovative management arrangements. The CBMC is currently comprised of representatives from IGFA, FAO, World Bank, Conservation International (CI), the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council (CFMC), the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO), the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), and the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (OSPESCA).

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