SUPPORTING RESPONSIBLE ARTISANAL FISHERIES IN NICARAGUA'S NORTH ATLANTIC AUTONOMOUS REGION
A TCP funded project is helping the coastal fishing communities to reinforces and technically improve the different artisanal fishing activities.
Nicaragua's North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) is an extremely poor multiethnic, multilingual and multicultural area . It has the second lowest income level of the country. Unemployment affects almost 90% of the economically active population and food consumption is below minimum requirements.
The region's population is composed of different indigenous groups such as the miskitos, the mestizos, the creoles and the mayagnas, making communication difficult. It is also a very isolated region which complicates its economic and social development.
Local fishing communities face many challenges
Fisheries is one of the area's main economic activities and the most important source of income for a large number of families. However the local fishing communities face many problems such as uncontrolled fishing, divers' health problems, conflicts between fisherfolk on the use of resources, fishing areas and methods as well as inadequate fish processing and conservation methods and poor marketing techniques for fresh fish.
A TCP project was launched in 2003 with a budget of over US$ 300 000 to sustain Nicaragua's Regional North Atlantic Government (GRAAN) in its effort to reinforce and technically improve the different artisanal fishing activities in the coastal fishing communities located in the northern Caribbean area of the country.
Simple Lessons Learnt
Through this project, 2495 persons from eight selected communities were trained by experts on subjects chosen together with the benefiting community. Training was reinforced through the publication of four manuals in Spanish and in Miskito language. The community fishers knowledge of the Code of Conduct of Responsible Fisheries was reinforced and further developed and the foundations for the creation of community co-management systems were laid for the lagoon fisheries. The training was adapted to the different communities' lifestyle and managed to reach a large proportion of the communities population. Many of the lessons learned were immediately put into practice and the working methods adapted consequently, thus demonstrating general acceptance of the new techniques. This allowed for an immediate increase of the volume of semi processed products delivered to the processing plants in the nearby province Bilwi. Moreover one of the communities will soon benefit from electricity connections and the establishment of an ice plant.
Echoes from the Women
Women reconfirmed their role as main actors in the production chain, by assisting and taking part not only in the workshops, but also in product marketing activities and in evaluation of the results of the newly learned techniques.
The project strengthened the institutional capacity of the Regional Government to establish procedural links between the community authorities (Consejo de Ancianos), the fisher's representatives (associations/unions) and the local Government secretariat,. This facilitated coordination mechanisms between the different parties involved and provided a model for the execution of similar projects.
The Cayos Miskitos fishing community living in houses on poles
Fishermen preparing shrimp for the fish buyer