Re: Implementing the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries

Harold Guiste Ministry of the Environment, Natural Resources Physical ...
FSN Forum

How do you see the role of your organization and others in the implementation of the SSF Guidelines?

The Fisheries Division (FD) of the Ministry of the Environment, Natural Resources, Physical Planning and Fisheries in Dominica is the government agency responsible for policy, management and development regarding fisheries.  The Fisheries Division is the lead agency for spear heading the implementation of the SSF. It is the agency which will gather and disseminate information to other stakeholders and institutions. The FD is designed for such tasks and has some level of technical capacity but lacks financial resources for effective implementation. There already exists some channels of communications and information dissemination mechanisms which could facilitate the process. Relationships and partnerships has already been established with other agencies, organizations and local institutions which can play a critical role in the implementation of the SSF.

  • The FD’s role is also for education and awareness of the SSF guidelines to the local fishing communities who are likely to be the most directly affected by this initiative. The FD is also responsible to taking this information to the Cabinet level and other government agencies such as Ministries of Legal Affairs, Finance, Physical planning , Private sector and NGO’s
  • The FD is responsible for integrating the SSF into local fisheries policy structures,  directions and adoption of same.
  • S likely to be responsible for promoting, initiating the legislative action, and enforcement of  fisheries laws and policies and must be a critical partner in the implementation of the SSF guidelines.

How can partnerships be fostered and strengthened to include the ‘voices of the marginalized?

  • One of the most effective ways of fostering partnerships to include the marginalized is through engaging Fisherfolk Organizations, Village Councils,  fisheries cooperatives and community groups in the discussions and decision making process and to ensure the functionality of such groups.
  • In Dominica there is the National Association of Fisher folk Cooperatives (NAFCOOP), which is an umbrella organization representing other local fisheries cooperatives. It also performs the role of an advocacy group for the fishermen and fishing communities. These groups can ensure that the voices of those most affected or impacted by the SSF guidelines will be involved. The lead agency is in the best position to ensure their involvement and participation  in the discussions and implementation of the SSF guidelines.
  • The individual national fisherfolk organizations need to be strengthened  and empowered through education and training and the provision of  means for gainful interaction.

What will be required at local, national, regional and global levels to ensure effective and efficient partnerships?

  • At the local level cooperation and collaboration among government agencies which can impact or influence the implementation of the SSF guidelines is necessary.
  • Various community groups need to be involved and informed about the guidelines. They need to know how their lives may be affected by those guidelines and what adjustments they may need to make to comply with the said guidelines. This is also necessary for voluntary compliance with the SSF.
  • At the national level the legislative framework will be required to be put in place.  Lawyers /consultants need to be employed to review existing legislation to ensure compatibility with the guidelines. The Division of cooperatives, legal affairs department, physical planning department and other relevant government agencies will need come together for effective partnerships.
  • Private sector and NGOs and the general public need to be involved in the discussions regarding the SSF to ensure broad participation and involvement.
  • The use of the internet and electronic media now allows the public to interact and make comments on issues of national interest and such should also be used at the national level.
  • At the regional level existing regional organizations such as the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations(CNFO) are absolutely necessary for implementation. The mechanisms for dissemination of information is already established and they feed into the national structures which will allow for a smooth flow of information and quick response to issues as they arise.   The regional perspective on this matter is also very desirable in terms of  financial resources mobilizations for the SSF.

Information and communication – promoting experience sharing and collaboration

What best practices with regard to communication would you recommend for SSF Guidelines implementation at local, national, regional and global level?

  • Communication Strategy at local level.: Town Hall meetings,  public village meetings, skits, electronic presentations and videos to promote voluntary compliance to some of these guidelines.  Use of existing locally established communication channels at the community level is of paramount importance.
  • National level:  Seminars, focus group discussions and education and awareness sessions using radio, television and internet.
  • Regional Level.  Radio and television programmes, websites and use of social media sites, Face book and twitter etc.  Meetings and conferences.
  • Global.  Website promotion and other electronic media.

What are your experiences from participatory monitoring and evaluation?

Monitoring should involve some level of collection of data on change of behavior over time, so that before and after changes could be scientifically recorded and be directly attributed to the intervention being made.

My experience is that this method of M&E  allows for stakeholders and resource users to be integrally involved in the implementation process and to point out short comings, identify unforeseen problems, use traditional knowledge to the benefit of the project  and to suggest corrective action themselves. There is transparency, greater buy in to the project and yields greater community benefit and satisfaction.

How can progress in implementing the SSF Guidelines be measured and reported in a useful way?

Set target values e.g. time frames, rates of expenditure of funds, level of awareness of persons, i.e determine what is to  be measured so as to give an indication of progress.

1. The extent to which Small- scale fishers and fishing communities  are aware of these guidelines.

2. The extent to which collaborating agencies or partnering institutions who can directly or indirectly  influence implementation are aware of the SSF.

3. Determine how many workshops, seminars, focus group discussions, radio programmes, website hits  etc have been held.

4. How many participants were involved in the seminars locally, nationally  and regionally .

5.  To what extent are the guidelines adopted into  national and regional fisheries policy ie. How many countries actually has the SSF or components of it in their policy structures.

6. The degree to which  the SSF has been approved and adopted by national governments. (very important). Or enacted into law.

7. Rate of expenditure of funds allocated.

Challenges and opportunities – needs for support and interventions . What do you think the main implementation challenges are, generally as well as in a specific country context, and how could they be overcome?

In the case of Dominica specific implementations challenges are ;

1. Endorsement of the guidelines in its entirety by the government will be a challenge  although some aspects of it could be acceptable

 2. Enactment of supporting legislation to give effect to the guidelines will be a great challenge based on past experiences. This is mainly due to the heavy work load of the Legal Affairs department of the Government.  To solve this problem a consultancy to draft the legislation and to ensure broad participation in the drafting process is critical.

3.  Institutional capacity to implement the SSF in a reasonable time frame is limited.  Poor organizational set up and lack of institutional preparedness and involvement  is one of the most  critical areas of poor project implementation in Dominica.  Therefore an implementation strategy should seek to build capacity and institutional strength through enhancement of community groups, understanding the social dynamics of fishing communities , strengthen linkages, partnerships  and foster collaboration with government agencies and NGOs as necessary. 

In addition to involving existing institutions, it is necessary to improve their functioning,  and enhance their organizational structures where necessary, to achieve desired  implementation goals and objectives.  This aspect of capacity building  and institutional development is critical for Dominica will also auger well for sustainability of the interventions to be made through the SSF.

4.  Limited financial resources is a definite challenge.  This is particularly so since in the first instance Government authorities may not be  immediately convinced to commit  budgetary allocations to this activity.  Therefore  sources of funding for implementation needs to be mobilized. Community groups, NGO’s and  fisher folk organizations will be severely challenged financially.