1. Queen Conch
Key personnel to be contact: Kris Isaacs
Title of Project: ACP Fish II project: Training in underwater visual survey methods for evaluating the status of Queen Conch stocks
Queen conch (Strombus gigas) is one of the most important fisheries in the CARICOM/CARIRORUM region and populations of the species can be found along the entire Caribbean chain, from the northern coast of South America, northwards through the Lesser Antilles and Central America, and northwest as far as Bermuda. Queen conch is commercially exploited in at least 22 countries throughout the region, with an estimated landing of about 60 million USD (CITES AC19 Doc 8.3)
To improve the management of queen conch in the region, there is a need for Member States to increase their effort to develop or improve existing data collection systems that will enable better assessment of the queen conch and population status. Although many Member States have data systems in place, information gaps exist and the data is usually limited. While many countries have catch-effort data system (information collected from vessel logs, fisher’s interview, processing plant reports, and/or direct sampling at landing sites) and biological data system (information collected from fisheries dependent and independent studies), data collection using visual survey methods is often lacking in some countries.
Visual surveys have been identified as being useful in verifying the results of catch-effort analysis, gives fisheries independent details on population structure, estimates of exploitable biomass, levels of recruitment, etc. To date, visual survey assessments had been done in Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Saint Lucia. The application of the method was generally similar among countries. In other countries, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, there exists a need to conduct visual surveys in the near future to complement the other assessment techniques being used.
To provide technical assistance to build the capacity of fisheries officers in the target group in using underwater visual survey methods for the management of Strombus gigas, queen conch.
The implementation of the project involved Fisheries Officers undergoing training in the use of underwater visual survey techniques and a conch survey in the waters surrounding Union Island in the southern Grenadines. By bringing Fisheries experts from across the region together in one place, the idea was to build on the experiences and methodologies used in the other islands and share best practices in the use of visual survey techniques under the tutelage of key consultants. Ultimately it is also expected that this activity support the eventual objective of harmonizing visual survey techniques and assessments for queen conch in the region. Trainees on the workshop represented the following CARIFORUM member states: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The training consisted of three phases. The first, which started on the 6th August 2013, consisted of classroom sessions conducted by the key experts (Dr. Robert Glazer and Dr. Martha Prada) at the CRFM conference room. The sessions consisted of presentations on conch biology and management as well as survey techniques incorporative of data collection and analysis. The second phase which started on the 10th August, 2013 consisted of nine days of field work in an area of approximately 248km2 around the southern Grenadine islands of Union Island, Mayreau and the Tobago Cays. This field work consisted of using underwater transects to estimate conch abundance deploying SCUBA divers and towed underwater cameras.
Finally, classroom sessions were held on the mainland St. Vincent on 21st August 2013 to analyze the data from the field work and discuss management recommendations. Some focus was also put into discussing sampling programmes in the individual countries represented.
The survey indicated that of the 51 sites which were sampled, conch was found at 35 which represent 70% of the total. It was important to note that the stations in the most exposed areas and at the deepest depths were the ones to record the highest numbers of conch. These areas are of importance to the fishery as they are less likely to be fished and therefore are key to maintaining/replenishing stocks. Preliminary analyses of survey data reveal a calculated conch density of 306 individuals/ hectare.
Total Allowable Catch calculated is approximately 30 metric tonnes per annum for the next three years, with a recommendation to repeat a population survey every three to four years. Average landings over the last five years is approximately 20 tonnes thus survey results seem to suggest that annual catch is below the calculated total allowable catch. This conclusion is based on existing fisheries landing data sets which we know to be incomplete thus these results must be viewed with
that in mind. Effort must be made to improve data collection, as the data collected plays an important role in informing these and other management decisions. Additionally, we must be vigilant in enforcement of existing regulations and look at what new and additional measures may need be put in place to maintain healthy conch stocks.
2. Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs)
Key personnel to be contacted: Mr. Hyrone Johnson
Title of Project: Caribbean Fisheries Co-management Project in St Vincent and the Grenadines
For several decades, the Fisheries Division has been seeking ways to enhance the development of the Fishing Industry. Presently, one of the major constraints of exporting pelagics and demersal species to regional and international markets is the seasonality of fishing operations. Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD) can assist in reducing the seasonality of these resources.
FADs deployment was first attempted during the early 90s off the south-western coast of St. Vincent. Unfortunately, these were destroyed by the elements soon after deployment. In December of 1997, one bamboo FAD was introduced and deployed after consultation with fishers. This FAD was proven to be successful as fishermen reported large catch around the FAD but it was destroyed after six months of deployment.
Bamboo raft FAD that was deployed by the Fisheries Division
On March 19, 2010, two FADs were deployed on the South Eastern Coast of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. These FADs remained for more than a year. There were reports of many catches around them before they were dragged too close to land and became in-effective.
FAD floatation device deploying from vessel
Consistent with its drive to enhance Fisheries development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Transformation, Forestry and Fisheries deployed two FADs in the waters of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on March 15th, 2012. These FADs are of an improved type to those that were deployed before and have a life expectancy of more than three years.
Floatation device of FAD
In an effort to optimally implement fisheries resource management, the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines request a technical cooperation project from the Government of Japan to develop fisheries resource management approach. The Fisheries Division in conjunction with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency JICA launched the Caribbean Fisheries Co-management Project (CARIFICO) on June 18, 2013. The project has several components which include the construction and deployment of FADs in the waters of St. Vincent and the Grenadines by December 30, 2013, the building of capacity and strengthening of existing co-operative or fishermen organisation, training for fishermen and the Fisheries Division’s staff.
On the completion of a baseline survey, the reference point obtained will be used to measure the success of the FADs after five years, information on the existing FADs would be gathered and the present situation of the Barrouallie Fisheries Development Co-operative Society Limited will be assessed. A country report will be compiled from the information collected from the survey and a consultation will be conducted in Barrouallie to report back on the findings of the survey.
To develop and implement the Fisheries co-management approach suitable for each target country and disseminate the experiences of the pilot activities and lessons in the Caribbean region.
- Conduct baseline survey for the target fisheries
- Examine and improve the system of fisherman ID, fishing boat registration and fishing boat licensing
- Determine the scope and method of data collection to be used in regular updating for co-management for target fisheries
- Update the information on target fisheries periodically
- Build consensus with fisheries on their participation and action plan for co-management
- Build consensus with fisheries about rules required for co-management including rules for obtaining FAD fishing license
- Examine possible supportive measures to promote co-management by government authority, such as duty free concession and BFTC ( Basic Fisherman’s Training Course)
- Facilitate the development of regulations to govern fisheries co-management arrangements
- Provide technical assistance for the stakeholders of target fisheries
- Provide technical assistance for capacity development of the fisheries division
- Provide technical assistance for capacity development of the fishers’ organization
- Review the experiences of the pilot activities and extract lessons learned
- Participate in regional workshops to share the experience
- Counterpart training in Japan and/or in other countries regarding fisheries co-management
Regional seminars/ workshop/ conferences in order to share lessons learnt from the Project and to disseminate know-how and technologies developed in the Project collaborating with the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).