Efforts to promote aquaculture development among the Small Island Developing States of the Lesser Antilles were initiated in the early 1980s. In 1993, following a review of the industry, the Italian-funded FAO-AQUILA II project on "Support to Regional Aquaculture Activities in Latin America and the Caribbean" (GCP/RLA/102/ITA) recognized the different potentials for developing aquaculture in the region. Subsequently, in cooperation with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, a project on "Caribbean Aquaculture Development" (CARAD) aimed at institutional strengthening and increasing cooperation among regional institutions was formulated, but unfortunately, this was never funded.
At a special FAO Ministerial Conference on Agriculture in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) held in 1999, the participating countries expressed their commitment to pursue efforts to achieve food security and to implement development policies and programmes that would secure the sustainability of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors in SIDS. Specific to aquaculture, the Ministerial Conference recognized the need to collaborate with the international and scientific communities in both the public and private sectors to:
In response to the importance given to aquaculture and the apparent lack of capacity at the national level in the SIDS of the Lesser Antilles, FAO took the initiative to organize a subregional workshop on the "Promotion of Sustainable Aquaculture Development in the Small Island Developing States of the Lesser Antilles". Fifteen participants from seven regional countries, four regional institutions and the FAO attended the workshop. The countries represented included Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Each of the representatives attending the workshop presented an update on the status of aquaculture in his/her respective country. A number of very interesting case studies were presented by aquaculture experts from Martinique, the US Virgin Islands and Bermuda. FAO also provided background information on issues such as potential marketing opportunities for aquaculture products from the Lesser Antilles and on aquaculture policy development.
The workshop participants noted the results of the many previous attempts to develop aquaculture in the Subregion. They also identified the following steps that should be taken to facilitate the development of sustainable aquaculture in the SIDS of the Lesser Antilles:
The participants recommended that these steps should be prioritized for each country, depending on the country’s stage of aquaculture development. They also recommended that a concerted effort should be made to raise awareness of the opportunities for sustainable aquaculture development among potential aquaculture stakeholders, decision-makers and natural resource managers in the Lesser Antilles.
Based on the common priority-needs identified at the workshop, an FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) project proposal for the region is currently being considered.