A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to train four young Montserratians in fisheries research and management through the Youth Apprentice Programme was signed on Friday afternoon between the Government of Montserrat and the Waitt Institute.
The MOU was signed by the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports, the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing, and the Environment, the Montserrat National Trust, and the Waitt Institute.
The apprentices will work on two projects. The first is a pilot project to evaluate the benefits of using sustainable fish traps. These traps have biodegradable panels that open up to release fish if the trap is lost at sea. Also, the traps include escape gaps, which are rectangular openings in the trap that that allow small and thin fish to escape. The program will compare fish caught in the sustainable traps versus the traditional traps.
According to Waitt Institute Executive Director, Dr. Kathryn Mengerink, “Research shows that escape gaps reduce the catch of juveniles and herbivores while catching larger and higher value fish. We want to know if we will see the same positive results in Montserrat.”
The second project will focus on fisheries data collection and assessment, with the apprentices collecting fisheries landings data to help monitor and assess Montserrat’s fisheries. In this one-year program, apprentices will learn to build sustainable fish traps, collect and analyze fisheries data, and participate in outreach with Montserrat’s fishing community.
Ms. Delmaude Ryan, Minister of Education, Sports and Youth Affairs was pleased about the collaboration and addressed the apprentices directly to say: “You are the pioneers to shape a new form of fishing in Montserrat”.
The Youth Apprentice Programme, launched in January 2017 is designed to help Montserrat’s young workforce develop the skills they need to succeed. The Programme is led by the Youth Task Force, which was established on June 26, 2016.
The Waitt Institute runs the Blue Halo Montserrat project which is focused on helping the island map out sustainable ways to use and protect the ocean and its sealife.