JNCC and Ministry of Agriculture to Host Fisheries Workshop Tuesday

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Land, Housing, and Environment (MALHE) have organized a fisheries workshop to be held on Tuesday November 1, 5pm at the Little Bay fish market.

Dr Declan Tobin and Dan Edwards will facilitate this JNCC workshop which aims to engage the local fishers and members of the Professional Boaters Association to identify and improve the best practices within the fishing industry in Montserrat. Fishermen will have the opportunity to identify and discuss challenges related with the islands’ fisheries, as well as mitigation strategies through improved practices.

The initiative was identified as one of the priority areas in action plans developed by Montserrat to restore and protect coral reefs, increasing technical capacity to collect and analyse data relevant to monitoring and managing the health of coral reefs.

This project is part of the “Implementing Coral Reef Action Plans for the UK Overseas Territories Coral Reef Initiative” and is funded by the Conflict Stability and Security Funds (CSSF).

In addition to supporting best practices within the local fishing industry, the project is also re-establishing the Fisheries Database. This is scheduled to commence on November 1st, 2022. The installation will be facilitated by Carl Cilenti who will also deliver data management and analysis training to stakeholders from Department for Information Technology and E-Government Services (DITES), Geographic Information Services (GIS) and the Statistics Department.

The new system, FISHCANA, will replace the previous CARIFIS database which was used until 2013 when software updates rendered it obsolete. The new database will allow the improved analysis of fisheries data and integration with other sources of fisheries data, such as the fishing vessel tracking systems installed on 24 vessels, which will aid in monitoring the increase and decrease of fish species in Montserrat’s waters and provide evidence-based support to policy-makers decisions on fisheries management.

Dr Declan of the JNCC said: “Ensuring a healthy functioning marine ecosystem is key to the long-term success and sustainability of fishing and the communities that depend on it. We see this project as a great opportunity to work closely with local fishermen to develop practical and workable options to mitigate specific local impacts associated with fishing. We believe strongly in the power of bottom-up rather than top-down problem-solving, putting local expertise and knowledge at the heart of solutions.”

The Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and the Environment Crenston C Buffonge said: “I appreciate the time and resources spent by the JNCC to protect and preserve Montserrat’s Biodiversity. I look forward to our Fishers benefitting greatly from this work and that translates to an improved fishing environment supporting lives and livelihoods. Montserrat is proud of its reefs and ocean ecosystems. The department is resolute in ensuring we implement best practices for a sustainable ocean management framework which will serve Montserrat for years to come.”

Governor, Sarah Tucker said: “I am pleased that JNCC is returning to Montserrat to deliver this workshop and implement a database system to enable greater monitoring and management of our marine life. I am grateful to the UK Government for its continued commitment to Montserrat’s development through the Coral Reef Action Plan project.”