|INFORMATION ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT IN THE SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES|
LOCATION AND MAIN LANDING PLACES
Map showing landing sites, zones and vessels
The policy framework for the fisheries sector is based on the expansion of fish production on a sustainable basis to provide a key source of protein for the national population at a competitive price. In order to support increased production of fish, it is essential that the marine environment is adequately protected.
Specific fisheries management objectives
MAIN MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR MAJOR FISHERIES
Shallow shelf and reef fish resources
main species targeted are hinds [groupers, seabasses] (Serranidae), parrotfishes
(Holocentridae), grunts (Pamadosydae),
and triggerfishes (Balistidae).
Juveniles are distributed around mangroves and seagrass beds, while
the adults live among the coral reefs.
They are caught mainly by traps (arrowhead traps or occasionally
z-traps) and handline, and are harvested extensively in the
The current regulations stipulate that the use of dynamite, poisons and other noxious substances, and trammel nets are prohibited. The use of spear guns is restricted.
measures include size and gear limits, close areas and seasons; effort
reduction and co-management arrangements. So far, the modification of traps to improve
selectivity has not yet been implemented, primarily as a result of declining
use of traps. Exploratory fishing for deep-slope demersals and large pelagics
are continuing as an initial step in the diversion of effort from the
shallow shelf and reef fishery. Management
teams have been appointed to manage the
Deep-slope fish resource
species include snappers (Lutjanidae) and groupers
(Serranidae), which are taken mainly on handlines. Bottom set longlines
with about 100 hooks are also used. These
species are fished more heavily in the off-season for large pelagics.
are no specific regulations for this fishery except the restriction on
mesh size for traps. Joint management
is indicated since
The estimated catch of deep-slope demersals in 2000 was 35 t.
The main management objective of this fishery is to maximize catches within the limits of the potential yield. This can be achieved by (1) minimizing illegal foreign fishing; (2) protecting stock from overfishing, by the adoption of appropriate management measures to limit fishing effort, particularly during the spawning season for groupers; and (3) integrating and improving the collection of biological and catch and effort data.
government policy is that the
The coastal pelagics are nearshore fish found in mid-water or surface waters in beach areas. They are often smaller than offshore pelagics. The main target species are jack, herring, silverside, anchovy, ballyhoo, robin/scad and small tunas.
Schooling species are caught by seines, which are set from small rowboats or set offshore from a large double-ended rowboat assisted by two or three smaller boats (some are powered by outboard engines) and a team of SCUBA divers to tend the foot rope. Gill nets (fixed or drifting) are used primarily for catching ballahoo.
pelagics account for approximately 45 to 60% of the total estimated landings.
This fishery is one of the most important in
Currently, there is a size restriction on mesh gear, with the use of trammel (tangle) nets prohibited and restriction on the use of ballahoo nets.
The management objectives are: (1) to encourage co-management of the fishery; and (2) maintain the artisanal nature of the fishery.
Management measures in place include (1) minimum mesh size for seines (this has already been legislated); (2) expansion of the marine reserve areas; and (3) control of land based pollution and coastal development.
Large pelagic fish resources
The large pelagic fish resources are fast-swimming migratory fish that inhabit the deep sea. The target species include tunas (Scombroidei), billfishes (Stiophoridae), dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus), wahoo (Acanthocybium Solandri), sharks (Elasmobranchii), swordfish (Xiphus gladius), whales and porpoises (Cetaceae).
The regional large pelagics (dolphinfish, kingfish, etc.) are mainly caught by trolling from pirogues and canoes east of the Grenadines bank. Most of the catch is landed in Kingstown. In the Grenadines, catches of regional large pelagics are primarily incidental to fishing for shallow shelf reef and deep-slope fishes. Trolling lines (with artificial lines or baited hooks) are deployed at 100 m or more depth while the vessel is steaming, or at the surface with outriggers when underway. Ocean-wide pelagics (yellowfin tuna, billfishes and swordfish) are targeted primarily by multipurpose vessels (Management Plan 1997).
Two humpback whale species are taken in the Grenadines, usually in the vicinity of Bequia between January and May. Blackfish or pilot whales and other small whales and porpoises are harvested in St Vincent, mainly from Barrouallie.
The Eastern Caribbean is considered to be the minimum management unit for the regional large pelagics. For most ocean-wide species, ICCAT propose the Western Atlantic, or even the entire Atlantic Ocean, as the management unit.
The large pelagics make up 25% (214 t) of the estimated average annual landings in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG Fisheries Statistics 2000). There are no regulations controlling the harvest of large pelagics in the Eastern Caribbean.
Management objectives include (1) cooperation with members of ICCAT, particularly Caribbean states, to assess, protect and conserve the large pelagic resources; and (2) promotion of development of commercial and sport fisheries.
Management initiatives and measures in place include to:
Spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is harvested in the Grenadines by teams of a dozen or so men, of which five to six are SCUBA divers using stainless steel wire nooses. Each diver will carry several nooses. Each team deploys four to five open boats or quarter-decked speedboats of about 4.6 5.5 m long, mainly constructed of wood with a 35-45 hp outboard motor.
The spiny lobster fishery is a very valuable fishery for St Vincent and the Grenadines. Approximately 25 t are exported annually to neighbouring islands such as Martinique and St Lucia. An estimated 10 20% of the lobster catch is consumed locally.
Since St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada share the same shelf, joint management is indicated. The lobster population is considered to be overexploited in nearshore areas. The potential yield is 90 t/year (FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, No. 313).
The current regulations stipulate a close season for lobster (1 May 31 August) as well as minimum size limits, restrictions on fishing gear, and restrictions on taking berried females or moulting individuals.
Management objectives have implications for the level and methods of resource utilization and the management of the resources. The general management objectives for the lobster resources are:
(1) to manage the resource on a sustainable basis Resource depletion can be prevented, where it has not already occurred, by controlling fishing effort. This would contribute to the maximization of net national benefit, including maximization of foreign exchange earnings; and
(2) to rebuild stock in depleted areas this could be accomplished by various management measures. Unless fishing pressure is reduced, the viability of the fishery is threatened, and could result in complete loss of foreign exchange earnings, employment and income.
Further potential management measures include:
The conch fishery of St Vincent and the Grenadines is a moderately important commercial activity, and conch is harvested primarily by a number of lobster fishermen during the close season for lobster. There are also specialized free-diving conch teams operating out of Union Island, who harvest the resource all year round.
Conch fishermen use double-enders of less than 20 foot in length, powered by sail, oars or small outboard engines. The operation involves three persons: one who dives with a rope around his waist while the other two remain in the boat and are responsible for keeping the boat in position (i.e. over the fishing ground) and retrieving the diver. Divers using this method dive for two to three hours per day. Approximately 500 fishermen and 160 fishing vessels are involved in the conch fishery.
An estimated 10.5 t of conch is landed annually in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and, of this figure, approximately 4 t are exported to neighbouring islands. The current regulations stipulate a size restriction (minimum shell length and meat weight) and harvesting of conch with a flared lip.
The general management objective for the conch fishery is to manage the resource on a sustainable basis, preventing resource depletion where it has not already occurred by controlling fishing effort.
Other management measures in place are: (1) more rigorous enforcement of existing regulations; (2) efforts initiated to map the critical habitat of conch to refine estimates of potential yield; (3) expansion of marine protected areas; and (4) support to CITES conservation measures re Appendix II. St Vincent and the Grenadines is party to the CITES convention and participates in all CITES meetings. CITES forms are issued for all conch exported from St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Fisheries Division operates under the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, and is responsible for the overall management and development of the fisheries sector.
Other relevant legislation includes:
INVESTMENTS IN FISHERIES
Over the past ten years or so the fishing industry has made tremendous strides and continues to do so. A number of St Vincent and the Grenadines nationals, business people and fishers have made significant investment in the fisheries sector. This has been facilitated by the introduction of multipurpose vessels fitted with modern navigational equipment and small-scale industrial gear (fish finders, global position systems) and the construction of fishing centres throughout the state through Japanese grant aid assistance. The governments policy for the managing of the fishing centres is through promoting the establishment of functional fishing cooperatives within the various fishing communities where centres exist, and to further facilitate stakeholder investment. These cooperatives assume management of the fishing centres as they develop.
Development banks have provided a great number of loans to the fishing industry. Approximately 14% of the loans issued by the National Development Foundation constituted loans to the fisheries sector. Although accessibility is limited, repayment plans are favourable, facilitating approval of a greater number of loans to the fisheries subsector.
Although the fishing industry is still predominantly small scale and artisanal, the concession and incentives granted by government have given fishers the opportunity to invest in bigger and more efficient boats (fibreglass pirogues with outboard or inboard diesel engines) and to improve gear technology. Fishers have also found it to be beneficial to operate their own vessels. About 90% of persons who own artisanal fishing vessels participate in the harvesting operations. In cases where the owner does not take part in the harvesting operation, they are involved in the marketing of catch as vendors, wholesalers or exporters.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND PROJECTIONS
The demand for fish in St Vincent and the Grenadines is on the increase due to increasing awareness of the nutritional value of fish and fish products, the prospect of developing healthy eating habits, and increased tourist arrivals to the islands.
Fish landings in St Vincent and the Grenadines are about 2.5 million pounds (1134 t) annually. An additional 660 000 pounds (300 t) of fish and fish products are imported, while the average annual fish exports amount to an estimated 390 000 pounds (175 t).
The population of St Vincent and the Grenadines is approximately 115 000, with an expected growth rate of 0.7% per annum. Current annual per capita consumption of fish is estimated to be 10 kg. By 2015, the population is projected to increase to approximately 140 000 (using a low-case scenario) or 152 000 (using a high-case scenario), making the demand for fish even greater.
It is assumed that an additional supply of approximately 450 t of fish will be needed annually to feed the national population in the next 25 years or so. This is based on the assumption that the per capita consumption of fish will remain constant and that fish landings are more likely to decrease than increase, given regional and worldwide trends. The development of underutilized and unutilized species may offset this to a certain extent.
ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE NATIONAL FISHERIES AUTHORITY