Lazarus Alfred has been fishing since he was 17-years-old. He knows the struggles of life at sea. But while he says there are occasional good days, he says it has become harder and harder to earn a living from the ocean.
Less fish, warmer temperatures and more intense storms are all contributing factors to the difficulties Alfred faces.
He is now hoping that Caribbean fisheries experts give greater consideration to the ability of fishermen and women to access finance, as they deliberate on the challenges plaguing the sector in the Caribbean.
“There are a lot of people who’d like to have their own boat and they are very good fishermen," said Alfred.
Member states of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum are currently conducting their annual stocktaking and planning for the regional fisheries sector.
Head of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, Milton Haughton, said the group is determined to save the sector and protect regional food security by tackling the issues at the heart of the problem including climate change and the dire finances of regional fishermen and women.
“While our ecosystems and their biological diversity are valuable national and regional assets which have been providing us with significant benefits, sadly in many countries, unemployment... (and) poverty are major problems. The livelihood and quality of life of many of our fisher folk and our fishing communities must be improved,” said Haughton.
The importance of fishing to the Caribbean region should not be underestimated. According to data provided by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Forum, the sector provides direct employment to 338,000 people in the region, generating US$251 million in annual revenue.
Earlier this year, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, the Organization of the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector, and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission, signed an agreement to increase the sustainability of fisheries.
The hope from Alfred and others working in fisheries will now be that the Caribbean Fisheries Forum can bring about the measures needed to boost the sector and save their livelihood.
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