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Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean Trawl Fisheries (REBYC-II LAC)

REBYC-II LAC Project Overview

The six countries participating in the Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean Trawl Fisheries (REBYC-II LAC) project in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region - Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago - share water and marine resources in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Shrimp/bottom trawl fisheries constitute an important part of the total marine fisheries economy in the project countries contributing to employment, local incomes, food security and foreign exchange earnings.

Tropical and subtropical shrimp/bottom trawl fishing is highly multispecies. This bycatch is composed mainly of juveniles of targeted species of other fisheries and non-targeted species, small-sized fish species and incidentally caught turtles. Furthermore, the shrimp trawling may cause destruction of sensitive seabed habitats which is a concern. In general, shrimp and other key target species in the project countries are overexploited. Because of generally decreasing catches and increasing costs of operation, many fishers find it difficult to maintain the profitability of their operations. The root causes of these problems include the economic reality of the private fisheries sector and global drivers such as growing demand for fishery products.

While the project cannot easily change the macroeconomic context, it can address the barriers to better management of bycatch and in this way support the sustainable development of the trawling sector and the people who depend on and are influenced by it, including other fisheries. This includes: (i) ensuring that enabling institutional and regulatory frameworks are in place; (ii) encouraging effective management of bycatch through improved information, participatory approaches and appropriate incentives; and (iii) supporting enhanced and equitable livelihoods. There are also links to broader fisheries livelihoods aspects, especially in small-scale fishing communities. Coastal livelihoods tend to be diverse and depend on the environment and marine resources. Clearly, bycatch is a complex issue, which requires to address resource and biodiversity issues alongside human needs, involving a mix of institutional, management and livelihood support measures. 

REBYC-II LAC has a five year time frame, beginning in 2015 and running until 2020.  The acronym of the project – REBYC – refers to the title and abbreviation of the earlier REBYC project: Reduction of Environmental Impact from Tropical Shrimp Trawling through the Introduction of Bycatch Reduction Technologies and Change of Management, adding LAC for the Latin America and the Caribbean region. The REBYC-II LAC project will build upon and utilize lessons learned from the initial REBYC project

 Previous REBYC Projects

The REBYC-I project (2002-2008) was implemented in 12 countries, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago. Although it had a focus on technology, legislation and awareness-raising were also addressed. The project “produced outstanding results by generating valuable information, increasing knowledge and awareness, building capacities and fostering cooperation concerning bycatch management and reduction of discards”. The terminal evaluation of the project strongly recommended a second phase of REBYC taking “a more holistic approach combining the gear technology aspects more effectively with management (through implementation of legislation and other forms of regulation), economic and socio-economic considerations, and knowledge management for enhanced dissemination of results and greater awareness”. These lessons indicate the need for increased participation of fishers in planning and implementation of appropriate management measures and to create incentives and capacity to reduce bycatch and discards. The REBYC-II LAC project seeks to address these issues. 

As a follow-up to REBYC-I in Asia, “Strategies for trawl fisheries bycatch management” – REBYC-II CTI, or the Coral Triangle Initiative – was started in 2011. A mid-term review was carried out during the first half of 2014 and emphasized the need to focus more efforts on data collection, including socio-economic and gender-related information related to bycatch reduction. Furthermore, it was recommended that management plans should be formulated with a participatory approach, in order to be effective in addressing all the issues and providing solutions involving all stakeholders, including those that have not been customarily included. The strengthening of institutional arrangements is also necessary for the development of the management plan, as well as the implementation, both of which need to be prioritized. 

The lessons learnt from the other two REBYC projects have been taken into account in the design of the present REBYC-II LAC project.  For example, there is considerable emphasis on institutional strengthening and the inclusion of a component dealing specifically with livelihoods and gender in addition to focusing on co-management and EAF.

Supporting FAO Guidelines

The REBYC-II LAC project will support the implementation of the International Guidelines on Bycatch Management and Reduction Discards (B&D Guidelines) and the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). Additionally, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT Guidelines) will be employed as another recent international instrument with high relevance to the trawl fisheries in the LAC region.