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Aug 28, 2018

OSPESCA Trains for Regional Spiny Lobster Stock Assessment

The Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA) is hosting a four-day workshop in Belize to train regional fisheries technicians to do an assessment of lobster stocks in Central America and the Caribbean. The data gathered from the survey will be used to help make better fisheries management decisions for the sustainability of the Spiny Lobster. Andrea Polanco tells us more about the project and why it is important to Belize and the rest of the region.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

On average, Belize harvests about four hundred thousand pounds of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster tail and that alone is valued around twelve million dollars. And another four hundred thousand pounds of whole lobsters when harvested earn some six million dollars for the country. The fishery sector employs about three thousand fishermen – and indirectly benefits some twenty to twenty-five thousand persons. But the value of lobsters extends beyond its economic earnings – it is a source of food for locals and also a tourism highlight. The lobster is equally as important to the rest of the region.

 

Beverly Wade

Beverly Wade, Administrator, Fisheries Department

“The spiny lobster fishery is one of the most important fisheries through-out the Caribbean and Central America. In fact, through-out the wider Caribbean region, it employs approximately sixty thousand people and it has a value of approximately one billion US dollars in terms of production and export earnings. So, it is significant to our national economies and especially for our countries that are mostly small economies, small developing countries.”

 

And it is because of the significant role that lobsters play in the development of regional economies, fishery planners are working on a project to assess the lobster stocks in this region. The purpose of this assessment is to find out the status of the spiny lobster, so as to help strengthen the sustainable management of this resource.

 

Beverly Wade

“In general, the lobster fishery across the wider Caribbean region is considered to be a fishery that is a mature fishery. It means that the fishery is at the point where we don’t foresee any significant increases in production on whole. And so, what that tells you is that as natural resource managers, we have to ensure that we have the proper management measures in place to ensure long term sustainability. And for a fishery like that which is done primarily by small scale fishers, it is even more critical that it is viable across times because so many people depend on it.  Both Jamaica and Bahamas are here today and Colombia, who are outside of the Caribbean region, to work with countries to develop local capacities in the analysis of data and in stock assessment. We will have technicians in our local institutions and across the region, who can now inform us for the best management of such an important fishery and resource to our people.”

 

As a part of the four day workshop, Caribbean and Central American fisheries technicians are learning how to conduct the assessment. The Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA) is leading the trainings.

 

Reinaldo Morales Rodriguez

Reinaldo Morales Rodriguez, Regional Director, OSPESCA [Translated]

“It’s to teach the technicians how to measure the lobster, what they need to measure, how to weight them and how to gather the relevant biological data that could be used in the analysis during this workshop.”

 

According to OSPESCA, some countries have reached their maximum sustainable levels as it relates to lobster harvesting. Here in Belize, the issue of illegal harvesting persists. Fisheries Department has been working with a number of partners to build compliance. As a part o f the long-term sustainability of this fishery, the department will be implementing the national spiny lobster fishery management plan. It will address issues of access, capacity building, as well as quotas for strengthened management of this resource.

 

Beverly Wade

“At the end of the day, we have to start controlling harvest. It is not a matter of us just having a very open fishery. It is about is very responsibly saying this is what we believe should be taken out sustainably and this is what we believe should be taken out to also continue to contribute significantly from an economic stand point.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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