Small Island Developing States

Strengthening Fisheries legislation in St. Kitts and Nevis

The national legal framework of St Kitts and Nevis (SKN) pertaining to fisheries consists of a number of instruments. These include the Saint Christopher and Nevis Fisheries Act (Fisheries Act 2002), which builds on the 1984 Fisheries Act, as amended in 1992, and on the 1995 Fisheries Regulations. The Fisheries Act (2002) addresses management, planning, development of fisheries, conservation of fishery resources in the EEZ, licensing of local and foreign fishing vessels for fishing in the EEZ, and access agreements. The Fisheries Act (2002) only applies to vessels flying the flag of SKN. In addition, the Merchant Shipping Act (2002), as amended by the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act 2009, provides for the registration procedure of certain fishing vessels.

This framework shows substantial shortcomings and gaps. It does not, or not sufficiently, implement major international instruments for fisheries management such as the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, the FAO Compliance Agreement, the FAO Port State Measures Agreement and a number of non-binding international instruments, such as the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IPOA-IUU), the Flag State Performance Guidelines and others. In addition, the legal framework does not provide the legal basis for the implementation of the ecosystem approach to fisheries and other modern fisheries management practices. Implementation of a number of these instruments has been promoted at regional level through the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) decisions, for example those relating to Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), Flag State performance and IUU. As a cooperating non-contracting party of North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), SKN should also implement the binding conservation and management measures at national level, for some of which appropriate legislation is lacking. Moreover, within the CARICOM Framework, the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) endorsed the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) in October 2014. This policy asks, amongst others, for regional fisheries legislative and management harmonization and SKN is required to address IUU legislation and regional and international agreements under this regional policy.

A particular problem of the national legal framework is the issue of IUU fishing by vessels registered in SKN that operate in areas outside of the national EEZ. These vessels currently are not subject to any specific national fisheries legislation, including conservation and management measures. In addition, the provisions related to sanctions are insufficient for the purpose of serving as a deterrent. The legal framework furthermore does not provide for means of ensuring that control can be exercised over vessels, in particular those operating on the high seas. The legal framework for MCS, in particular VMS is absent.

The technical and legal assistance provided by FAO in the context of this project is designed to identify gaps and constraints in fisheries legal frameworks and to develop draft legislation that addresses these gaps and constraints. The process will be carried out in close collaboration with national stakeholders and authorities involved in fisheries management, with a particular emphasis on the authorities involved in enforcement, monitoring control and surveillance. Stakeholders include: The Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Cooperatives through its Department of Marine Resources (DMR), Ministry of National Security (Coast guard); Ministry of Tourism, International Transport and Maritime Affairs (SCASPA, Director of Maritime Affairs); Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of International Trade; fisherfolk organizations, and the fisheries industry. 

Expected outputs:

  1. A review of the legislation in light of obligations deriving from international instruments and global best practice, including a review of the findings of the EC evaluation report and recommendations for remedial action (review report);
  2. Stakeholder consultations (in both St Kitts and Nevis islands) to sensitize the relevant authorities to support action and for discussion of draft legislation; 
  3. Awareness and capacity built among key stakeholders for PSMA implementation at national level; 
  4. A draft (updated) Local Fisheries Act and Regulations, taking into account, amongst others, the CITES convention, FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), IUU fishing, Port State Measures, International Labour laws, UN Fish Stocks Agreement, Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), Aquaculture, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and which adequately addresses gaps and shortcomings as identified in the review report and during stakeholder consultations;
  5. A draft St. Kitts and Nevis High Seas Fisheries Act and Regulations taking into account the STCW-F Convention and the Cape town Agreement of 2012 etc. that adequately addresses gaps and shortcomings as identified in the review report and during stakeholder consultations;
  6. A final draft National Plan of Action to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in St Kitts and Nevis EEZ.
  7. End of project report.
27 Feb 2015
 - 31 Jan 2017
US$ 91,310
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations