Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 17, 2021 (SKNIS): As the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis continues the economic rebound from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the fisheries sector will be a key driver of success. Director of the Department of Marine Resources, Dr. Marc Williams spoke on the importance of training fisherfolk across the Federation, and the implementation of domestic legislation to better protect the fishing industry during the September 15 edition of ‘Working For You’.
“Training is given to fishers on an ongoing basis, and also with respect to equipment. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, all fishing gears have been at reduced prices by as much as 50%. In some cases, the gear has been contributed to the industry in the sense of fish aggregated devices. The government has provided the materials in an effort for fishers to improve our fish landings. Most notably would be the ocean pelagic which has been decreasing recently. We are working in anticipation that our economy will open up and our fishers will be able to have alternative revenue streams for themselves and their families,” said Director Williams.
The Department of Marine Resources has been working to ensure that all fishers understand the provisions under international law and fisheries instruments for managing, conserving, and utilizing fisheries resources within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and on the High Seas, to explore implications of the provision of Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Resources Act (FAMRA) 2016. Director Marc Williams spoke on the importance of modernization existing legislation in order to ensure that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis does not violate any international fishing laws and protocols.
“One of the challenges we had with the previous Act was that it was outdated. When we looked at establishing a Marine Management Area (MMA), the previous Act only spoke to a Marine Reserve. And with respect to the areas within the marine management area such as the conservation zone, the fishing priority zone, the recreation zone, and the mixed-use zone. These zones were not defined in the previous legislation. The 2016 Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Resources Act (FAMRA) covers everything up to that point in relation to the issues that were reflected in the industry. In 2021, we expect to have the regulations that will give some teeth to the Act. The fact that we do not have regulation in place as yet makes it difficult to implement since every infraction against the Act has to go to the courts. Also, the management of our high seas fishing fleet, the previous Act did not mention that,” said Director Williams.
The ecosystem-based approach that the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has embarked upon integrates marine habitat management and sustainable use of the resources as an alternative way to secure an increase in fish landings. The progression in establishing a marine management area in the federal waters of St. Kitts and Nevis through the strengthening of the legislation allows for effective management.