Maintaining healthy fished populations is critical to maintaining ecosystems and ensuring goods and services can be provided in the future. Fisheries management aims to maintain sustainable fishing levels using a range of management measures, such as catch and size limits, seasonal closures and gear restrictions. The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism is an inter-governmental organization that represents most Caribbean nations and promotes sustainable fisheries in the region.
Sustainable fishing is a common concept in the modern world of fisheries management, and there are many useful resources that provide information on the status and trends of fisheries globally and by region, as well as overviews of sustainable fishing issues and practices. Online guidance and tools are less abundant, but the links below include useful resources to support efforts to implement sustainable fisheries management in complex socio-political environments.
- The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism has the goal “to promote sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources in and among Member States, by development, management and conservation of these resources in collaboration with stakeholders to benefit the people of the Caribbean region". The website provides updates on regional initiatives that promote sustainable fisheries, a list of Member States, biennial and medium-term work plans of the organization as well as regional plans for sustainable fisheries, publications and knowledge sharing: http://www.caricom-fisheries.com/Default.aspx. Although focused on the meetings and activities of the organization, there is useful information on the direction of fisheries management at a regional level in the Caribbean, policy information and useful fisheries statistics for the region.
- The NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center website provides comprehensive information on the status of fisheries stocks in the Caribbean: http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/species/fish/assessments.htm. Stock assessments are provided for Amberjack, Billfish, Conch, Grouper, Mackerel, Sharks, Snapper, Trigger Fish and Tuna. There is also supplementary information on catch rates, fishing regulations and links to relevant research. This website is a one-stop shop of useful fisheries data for the Caribbean.
- The Fisheries and Aquaculture Department of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provides regular State of the World’s Fisheries reports that review the status of fisheries and aquaculture in all regions of the world, including the Caribbean. The latest report was released in 2010 and provides a global review of fishing and fisheries resources (economic, social and ecological), an overview of selected issues in fisheries, highlights of special studies and an outlook for the future of fisheries and aquaculture by region: http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i1820e/i1820e00.htm
- National Geographic provides online information on sustainable fishing practices for managers and consumers and some useful background to the issues of overfishing, fish factories and fisheries management: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/sustainable-fishing/. The information is a good ‘encyclopedic’ overview of the issues and rationale for sustainable fishing, although somewhat generic. Some of the links, for example to the Sustainable Seafood Decision Guide, provide interesting information and facts about the topic.
- The MarineBio website provide conservation-focused overviews of overfishing issues and solutions: http://marinebio.org/oceans/conservation/sustainable-fisheries.asp, The website also has some short video documentaries. The information is good for a general audience as background to the topic.
- The World Wide Fund for Nature provides conservation-focused overviews of overfishing issues and sustainable commercial fishing practices: http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/oceans_and_marine/marine_threats/overfishing/sustainable_commercial_fishing_practices/ WWF also has a good summary of advances in and challenges to sustainable fisheries management.
- The Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association website has a theme sheet on managing fishing gears, reducing damage, fishing exchange programs and utility for marine protected areas: http://wiomsa.org/mpatoolkit/Themesheets/I2_Managing_fishing_gears.pdf. Although the case study provided is for a marine protected area in Africa, the lessons and tools can be applied in the Caribbean.
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Towards sustainability in world fisheries. Nature, 418: 689-695. doi:10.1038/nature01017. (2002) Pauly D, Christensen V, Guénette S, Pitcher TJ, Sumaila UR, Walters CJ, Watson R and Zeller D