Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit Dr Leo Brewster has raised concerns that some fisherfolk are engaging in fishing practices that are harmful to the marine environment.
Addressing a fisheries forum organised by the Barbados National Union of Fisherfolk Organisations (BARNUFO) and held last evening, Dr Brewster pointed to changes in single-net practices, which are damaging reefs.
“I don’t know if you have changed your fishing practice from how it used to be 15, 20 years ago when you were very conscious as to how you would corral the fish and where you would capture them,” he told participants.
“There are some of your practitioners that are going out and just raking the nets over the reefs. It has been reported to us, we’ve lodged complaints about the manner in which it is being done. You’re not corraling them … like you used to before, but you’re just taking the nets and hauling it over as if you’re trawling. Over a reef. And you know where a reef is,” he said, adding that there is need to educate the younger fisherfolk who may not be aware of the proper practices.
He said there is also the practice now of sending nets across reefs, which is leading to the entanglement of turtles et cetera in the nets.
“We’ve also had those complaints being reported to us, and we’ve tried to request action being taken on it because nets across reefs are very, very catastrophic in terms of how some aspects of fish entrapment is taking place.”
He explained that there are plans by the Government to establish marine-managed areas in an attempt to address these and other concerns over the state of the marine environment.
Dr Brewster said the rollout of these areas will be based on a study conducted in the early 2000s.
“There were things like fisheries management zones within the extended boundaries from Weston all the way down to Fitts Village. We still have the same Folkstone Marine Park area established where you had other activities also being established within the management zones. That same sort of concept is being followed through on how this process is to be rolled out,” he said.
Dr Brewster noted there has already been an expansion of the boundaries of the Carlisle Bay Marine Park, which now extends from the Pierhead to the Rockley Beach area.
He also noted that “fisheries is in crisis”, as evidenced by the current scarcity of some species such as parrotfish, which he said are not as plentiful as previous years.
“I think that through the approaches that will be taken you may see a resurgence in the pot fishery, but as always, the level of compliance that needs to go along with that is something that has to be recognised. It will take time to establish managed areas and establish fisheries priority zones and fisheries management areas that fishermen have responsibility for. It is all part and parcel of the process as well,” he said.
Last evening’s discussion was part of activities marking the 2019 Fisherfolk Week of Activities.