FAO hosts workshop on integrating climate change adaptation in Barbados

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held a workshop to assist fisheries in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) improve their adaptation to climate change and disaster risk resilience.

Mr. Stephen Willoughby, Chief Fisheries Officer for the Government of Barbados, and Mr. Jullan Defoe, Fisheries Officer from Dominica, participate in the Implementing the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Workshop. (Photo: Iris Monnereau/FAO)

Officially titled ‘Implementing the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries Management Planning‘, the three-day workshop was conducted at the United Nations House in Barbados.

Over 30 participants representing eight Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago) attended.

The workshop is part of the larger Climate Change Adaption of the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector Project, also known as CC4FISH and is being implemented by FAO. The Project was developed in response to the serious challenges confronting the Caribbean fisheries sector as a result of climate change.

Dr. Patrick McConney, Senior Lecturer at Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), discusses climate change vulnerability of fishing communities in Barbados during a fieldtrip attended by EAF Workshop participants. (Photo: Iris Monnereau/FAO)

Sessions are designed to demonstrate how an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) can be practically incorporated into different types of National Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs), such as Marine Protected Area (MPA) Plans and a Queen Conch Management Plan.

Dr. Shelly-Ann Cox, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), leads a discussion with participants of the EAF training during a field trip to a Barbados fishing community.
(Photo: Iris Monnereau/FAO)

The training was vital since the fisheries sector is already suffering from the impacts of climate change which include coral bleaching, an increased frequency of high intensity storms and hurricanes, and sargassum influxes. All of these have negative effects on marine ecosystems, food security, and livelihoods. This very hands-on and practical training improved the institutional capacity of fisheries officers and others to implement measures for bolstering the sustainability of fisheries while incorporating the changes experiences and foreseen as a result of climate change in the region with benefits for all involved in the sector,” said Dr. Iris Monnereau, Regional Project Coordinator for the CC4FISH Project at the FAO Subregional Office for the Caribbean.

Through the EAF training, participants will learn a holistic approach to fisheries management that not only focuses on ecosystem conservation but also improvements in human wellbeing and governance of the fisheries sector. It identifies key sustainability issues from within and outside the sector, on the basis of wide consultation of stakeholders in order to empower them to actively participate in decision making.

A fish processor at work in Paynes Bay, Barbados. (Photo: Iris Monnereau/FAO)

This workshop focused on the benefits of having a diverse group examining issues critical to promoting and protecting the livelihoods of fisherfolk in this region. In those sessions, they looked at EAF with an emphasis on people and integrated participatory fisheries management to address areas of vulnerability such as climate change impacts to which fishers are most susceptible, and to incorporate risk management,” said Mr. Mitch Lay, Director of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation (CNFO).

In addition to climate-related challenges, Caribbean fisheries are already facing other negative stressors. For example, fifty-five per cent (55%) of the region’s fisheries are considered over-exploited while twenty to thirty per cent (20 to 30%) of commercially harvested fish catches are the result of illegal, unregulated and unreported activities.

As the lead global agency with responsibility for food and agriculture, FAO’s mandate is to build a world where everyone has access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food which contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – eradicating hunger by 2030 and the FAO is also custodian of SDG 14: conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

FAO recognizes that a thriving and sustainable fisheries sector is integral to achieving the SDGs. A large part of our work focuses on the importance of fisheries and its many associated processes for ensuring food security and nutrition and economic growth through fish-related employment opportunities. Therefore this workshop contributes to achieving SDGs 2 and 14, which are closely linked to our mandate,” said Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Caribbean.

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