Fisheries ‘threat’

Government is worried about threats to Barbados’ marine resources, especially from foreign commercial vessels engaged in “severe over-fishing”.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kerrie Symmonds voiced concern about the issue yesterday and said the country had to find ways to protect its fisheries from these challenges.

Symmonds said the authorities also “have to address the issue of sustainability and the appropriate management of our resources” since continuing to restrain the fisheries sector from maximising its potential was counter-productive.

The senior minister was speaking yesterday after Barbados’ ambassador in Geneva, Switzerland, Matthew Wilson, presented the island’s ratification of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Agreement On Fisheries Subsidies to WTO directorgeneral Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

“We must find ways and means of protecting those [fisheries] resources from threats, especially those posed by foreign vessels which enter our waters, using massive commercial drift nets that are reported to be several miles wide and which are attached to floats that sit on the surface of the ocean, but which hang over 50 feet deep,” Symmonds said.

“These nets are also attached to weights which create the effect of a multiple miles-wide, vertically suspended, wall of netting that drifts with the ocean’s current and snags any and everything that can be caught in its path.

“These are ultra destructive mechanisms and are responsible for tremendous losses of all forms of marine life and, worse, they are also responsible for the severe overfishing of tuna, swordfish, salmon, dolphins, sharks and several others,” he asserted.

The minister said the Government supported the WTO Agreement On Fisheries Subsidies on the basis that it “protects against the over exploitation of the fisheries resources, ensures sustainability, helps to finance and coordinate development of the sector and builds technological capacity in the fisheries sector”.

“The practice of fishing is directly connected to the livelihood of thousands of our citizens. It is also a source of food security for our nation and it is the economic empowering tool for thousands of our women,” he said.

“The agreement does not place any new fisheries management obligations on Barbados,” Symmonds added, pointing out that “as Barbados does not give subsidies for illegal and unregulated fishing or for fishing overfished stocks, or for unreported fishing or fishing on the high seas, the agreement does not impact us negatively”.

“The focus of the agreement is on stopping subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity. It focuses on marine wild capture fishing and bans subsidies that target the capacity of states to fish in the waters of states whose stocks are recognised as overfished,” he said.

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