Fisherfolk in Barbados and other Caribbean countries could soon be able to access third party insurance coverage for their fishing vessels.
Word of this has come from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
The FAO made the announcement in a release, stating that a recent stakeholder meeting was held to discuss the insurance legislative frameworks for the Caribbean with that objective in mind.
The meeting was attended by multiple stakeholders including representatives from the fisheries divisions, maritime law authorities and insurance companies from Barbados, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
The FAO Assessment Report on Insurance Needs and Opportunities from 2018 in the Caribbean fisheries sector showed that that several challenges face the sector from achieving full insurance coverage.
While there is a need for improved sectoral awareness of the available options for coverage, the report indicated that about 75 per cent of the fisherfolk surveyed stated that they have not considered obtaining insurance due to a lack of information on availability and accessibility.
In addition, 25 per cent of the fisherfolk surveyed reported that available plans were too expensive while the monthly commitment was also a factor due to the seasonal and unpredictable nature of their work with revenue and profit margins being volatile throughout the year.
Dr Raymon van Anrooy, FAO’s Senior Fishery Officer, said that only three per cent of the fishing fleet in the Caribbean was currently insured.
He indicated that the lack of insurance cover poses serious problems in the industry, as fishing is among the most dangerous occupations in the world and accidents and fatalities in small-scale fisheries were common.
“Many fisherfolk who get an accident during their working life, cannot work for some time or end up disabled. This creates financial and social hardship for these fishers and their families,” he said.
There are approximately 116,000 small-scale fishers active in the CARICOM region, who together possess approximately 33,000 commercial fisheries vessels.
“The majority of these vessels which fish in the territorial waters of the islands are smaller than 12 meters in length,” the FAO pointed out.
Speaking to the stakeholders at the meeting, Dr Renata Clarke, FAO’s Sub-regional Coordinator, said, “The average catches per vessel are often just a few tonnes of fish per year, but together our many fishers and those working in the market and processing sector, are very important for our Caribbean economies, employment and providing food security.”
Meanwhile, Dr Norman Martinez, Professor in Maritime Law and FAO Consultant, said that most Caribbean states have entry-points within their existing legislation, for example under the Fisheries Legislation or Shipping Act, that could be used to establish a mandatory third-party liability insurance for the fisheries sector.
He said insurance cover could be made mandatory relatively easy within fishing licence and/or fishing vessel registration processes, which would likely be much cheaper for all involved.
Dr Iris Monnereau, Regional Project Coordinator of the Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector (CC4Fish) at FAO, explained, “The Caribbean region needs to develop a culture of insurance in the fisheries sector in order to mitigate the risks.”
Dr Monnereau also indicated that draft regulations for mandatory third party liability insurance for fishing vessels were prepared for each country to facilitate the uptake of third party liability insurance by governments in the region and that the project also supports national level activities to support further implementation.
Read our ePaper. Fast. Factual. Free.
Sign up and stay up to date with Barbados' FREE latest news.