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Concerned that climate change could lead to an intensification of the global hydrological cycle, Caribbean stakeholders are working to ensure it is included in the region’s plans for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
The basis of IWRM is that the many different uses of finite water resources are interdependent. High irrigation demands and polluted drainage flows from agriculture mean less freshwater for drinking or industrial use.
Contaminated municipal and industrial wastewater pollutes rivers and threatens ecosystems. If water has to be left in a river to protect fisheries and ecosystems, less can be diverted to grow crops.
Meanwhile, around the world, variability in climate conditions, coupled with new socioeconomic and environmental developments, have already started having major impacts.
The Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C), which recently brought international and regional stakeholders together for a conference in Trinidad, is aimed at better understanding the climate system and the hydrological cycle and how they are changing; boosting awareness of the impacts of climate change on society, as well as the risk and uncertainty in the context of water and climate change and especially variability; and examining adaptation options in relation to water and climate change.
“Basically we’re looking to integrate aspects of climate change and climate variability and adaptation into the Caribbean water sector,” Natalie Boodram, programme manager of the Water, Climate and Development Programme (WACDEP), told IPS.
“And this is a very big deal for us because under predicted climate change scenarios we’re looking at things like drier dry seasons, more intense hurricanes, when we do get rain we are going to get more intense rain events, flooding.
“All of that presents a substantial challenge for managing our water resources. So under the GWP-C WACDEP, we’re doing a number of things to help the region adapt to this,” she added.
Current variability and long-term climate change impacts are most severe in a large part of the developing world, and particularly affect the poorest.
Through its workshops, GWP-C provides an opportunity for partners and stakeholders to assess the stage of the IWRM process that various countries have reached and work together to operationalise IWRM in their respective countries.
Integrated Water Resources Management is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.
IWRM helps to protect the world’s environment, foster economic growth and sustainable agricultural development, promote democratic participation in governance, and improve human health.
GWP-C regional co-ordinator, Wayne Joseph, said the regional body is committed to institutionalising and operationalising IWRM in the region.
“Our major programme is the WACDEP Programme, Water and Climate Development Programme, and presently we are doing work in four Caribbean Countries – Jamaica, Antigua, Guyana and St. Lucia,” he told IPS.
“We’re gender-sensitive. We ensure that the youth are incorporated in what we do and so we provide a platform, a neutral platform, so that issues can be discussed that pertain to water and good water resources management.”
The Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) is a non-profit, civil society body that focuses its resources on empowering Caribbean young people and their communities to develop programmes and actions to address socioeconomic and environmental issues.
Rianna Gonzales, the national coordinator of the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter, has welcomed the initiative of the GWP-C as being very timely and helpful, adding that the region’s youth have a very important role to play in the process.
“I think it’s definitely beneficial for young people to be part of such a strategic group of people in terms of getting access to resources and experts…so that we will be better able to communicate on water related issues,” she told IPS.
The CYEN programme aims at addressing issues such as poverty alleviation and youth employment, health and HIV/AIDS, climatic change and global warming, impact of natural disasters/hazards, improvement in potable water, conservation and waste management and other natural resource management issues.
The GWP-C said the Caribbean region has been exposed to IWRM and it is its goal to work together with its partners and stakeholders at all levels to implement IWRM in the Caribbean.
“A very significant activity for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States has been to prepare a Water Sector Model Policy and Model Water Act which proposes to remedy the key water resources management issues through new institutional arrangements and mechanisms that include water and waste water master planning, private sector and community partnership and investment mechanisms,” GWP-C chair Judy Daniel told IPS.
IWRM has not been fully integrated in the policy, legal and planning frameworks in the Caribbean although several territories have developed/drafted IWRM Policies, Roadmaps and Action plans. Some of these countries include: Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana, Jamaica; The Bahamas; Trinidad and Tobago; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency
Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Brief Highlights Climate Change Impacts on Fisheries and Aquaculture
The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) has issued a brief,’Climate Change: Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture,’ which details the threats of climate change and ocean acidification to fisheries, aquaculture and marine resources as relayed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).
The brief highlights that climate change and ocean acidification are altering ocean ecosystems, leading to a loss of marine biodiversity and changes in seafood production levels, including through the displacement of stocks and rising mortality of shellfish. It notes that other factors such as over-fishing, habitat loss and pollution worsen the impacts of climate change on marine resources. The publication also highlights impending issues such as: the rapid decline of coral reef ecosystems, with the risk of collapse of some coastal fisheries; the likely increase in coral bleaching; potential increases in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing from changes in coastal resources and food insecurity; and possible mass die-offs in farmed fish due to harmful algal blooms.
The brief explains that fishers can adapt to some of the impacts, through, inter alia: changing gear or target species; increasing aquaculture; and moving to dynamic management policies. Additionally, some positive impacts of climate change are highlighted, including faster growth rates and food conversion efficiency, longer growing seasons, and new growing areas due to decreases in ice cover.
Regarding the potential for mitigation in the fisheries sector, the brief highlights options such as strengthening coastal zone management to reduce land-sourced pollution, over harvesting and physical damage to resources. It also suggests creating new habitats, such as artificial reefs, to act as fish nurseries in areas where coral reef destruction occurs. According to the report, protecting some ocean ecosystems will help moderate the speed and scale of climate change, as well as build ecosystem health.
The brief is published jointly by the SFP and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Cambridge Judge Business School, and is supported by the European Climate Foundation. It is one of a series of publications synthesizing the most relevant AR5 findings for specific economic and business sectors, and grew from the idea that the fisheries and aquaculture sector could make better use of the AR5, if distilled into an accessible and succinct summary.
Credit: SFP News Story from the Climate Change: Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture publication.
The launch featured the official handing over of various equipment by the German Ambassador Stefan Schlüter to the Hon. Roland Bhola, Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries & Environment, a highly informative and lively presentation by MPA Coordinator Roland Baldeo on the work of the Molinière-Beauséjour Marine Protected Area (MPA), and the opening of the new MPA administrative office. There was also a lionfish information display, featuring live lionfish aquarium and delicious lionfish tasting!
CATS is an umbrella program that follows a ‘Ridge-to-Reef Approach’ by bringing together two topical projects, namely one on “Adaptation of Rural Economies and Natural Resources to Climate Change”, and the other on the “Management of Coastal Resources and Conservation of Marine Biodiversity”.
In the case of CATS, the ‘Concept of Herding CATS’ has been adopted, which will aid the region to effectively coordinate the support provided by various International Development Partners (IDP) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO).
CATS is a regional development cooperation program between the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. The implementing agencies are the Environmental Health and Management Unit of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the German Government’s Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). The program will soon operate in eight CARICOM Member States from Guyana, Grenada, St. Vincent & Grenadines, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Jamaica and Belize.
The Board of Governors of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre concluded its annual meeting (August 22 -24) in Belize yesterday. Among the key decisions taken, the Centre will continue to pursue a broader mix of regional and national projects and actions, advance efforts to boost its institutional capacity, and expand its collaborative work with the various economic and social sectors, including health, renewable energy and youth.
Regional and National Tracks
Chairman of the Board Dr Leonard Nurse says the Centre’s primary focus on a combination of regional and national (dual track) climate change activities is consistent with its regional mandate. This mandate is outlined in the Regional Framework and its accompanying Implementation Plan, which was approved by CARICOM Heads of Governments last year. The dual track approach “allows us to enhance the region’s resilience, so that we can minimize the impact of climate change on certain critical sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, tourism and others, that underpin the economic viability of the region”.
The Chairman notes that the Centre is already strategically developing and implementing dual track initiatives that address the priorities outlined in the Regional Framework and accompanying Implementation Plan— among them is the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank-funded Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) and the Caribbean component of the Intra-ACP Global Climate Change Alliance programme, which is supported by the European Union. Under the PPCR initiative, the Centre will be working with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to better understand the linkages between climate change and human health.
The Centre has expanded rapidly having developed the capacity to successfully execute a suite of regional climate change programmes worth between US$40 and US$50 million over the last five years. Pilot projects such as the installation of a Reverse Osmosis Plant in Bequia using solar energy (photovoltaic) have improved access to potable water. Elements of this project are being replicated across the region— Petite Martinique, Carriacou (both dependencies of Grenada), Belize, Barbados and The Bahamas. These successes have resulted in increased demand for the Centre’s services.
Executive Director Dr Kenrick Leslie says the Centre was directed by CARICOM Heads to “work with national governments to put together programmes that would help them develop bankable projects that can be funded under the various mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Therefore, the Centre is putting maximum effort to ensure CARICOM Member States get their fair share of the financial resources available through the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund and other funds to help them in their adaptation efforts. That is our primary thrust— to meet the mandate given to us by the regional Heads [last year].”
Accordingly, the Centre is strengthening its capacity by consolidating the work of its Monitoring and Evaluation Unit to better prepare it to function as an implementing agency. This will enable the Centre to access resources to implement programmes that are now largely within the remit of globally recognized institutions. The Centre’s expanded M&E Unit will assist regional governments in developing, monitoring and evaluating programmes. The Board has also unveiled plans to strengthen its fiduciary oversight through initiatives such as more frequent financial reporting, a Finance and Audit Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors, an internal audit function for the Centre and increased focus on data and plant security.
Dr Nurse says these actions are necessary given the Centre’s shift from a project based orientation to more programmatic activities. He notes that the Centre, which is primarily funded through grants, is advancing efforts to complete the establishment of a Trust Fund. The Fund, which has been seeded with a grant from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, will be managed by a Board of Trustees external to the Centre. The Trust Fund will be a vital component of the Centre’s thrust to ensure its financial sustainability.