Much emphasis is being placed on developing the Blue Economy in SVG, creating the need for ocean scientific research to support the development of sustainable fisheries policies. It is in this context that the SVGEF is thrilled to announce its partnership with Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) and the Ministry of Fisheries to conduct a baseline assessment of the marine resources of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The study, which commenced on February 10th 2022, will continue into 2024. The Baseline study, being carried out with a research permit under the Fisheries Act, will focus on conch and lobster stock as well as general fisheries population health, and current biodiversity within the proposed marine parks of the South Coast and the Leeward Coast.
The aim of the study is not only to provide firsthand scientific data but to provide advice on sustainable fisheries management to the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to ensure their fisheries operate to the highest environmental standards, regenerate and increase fish stocks and protect local livelihoods. Recommendations will be made in a comprehensive plan for the archipelago on fisheries management options for SVG so that it can proudly be classed an exemplar of well-managed fisheries, both regionally and globally.
BLUE will conduct a detailed literature and data review on all the fisheries mentioned above and of current marine management in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. On island, SVGEF will collect input from local fishers/stakeholders on concerns for the future and current challenges relating to fisheries and marine management. The sustainable fisheries plan will provide advice on suitable measures to help achieve the SVG national biodiversity targets (and Aichi targets), help protect and develop local livelihoods and to propose ways to rebuild fish stocks and reduce pressure on heavily fished nearshore resources.
On the Ground Plan
The Blue Marine Foundation team, comprising Dr Judith Brown, Andrew Woods and Jonny Hughes arrived on St. Vincent on February 10th 2022. They have teamed up with local dive operators and conch fishers/divers on Union Island (Grenadines Dive) and on Bequia (Dive Bequia and Dive Adventures) as well as Dive Antilles on St. Vincent. Dr Judith Brown with assistance from Andrew Woods will conduct the dive training and data assessment. It is proposed that at least 80 dives will be conducted during the 3.5-week visit. A diver from Fisheries Division would also participate in dive survey/training. This intensive study will take place annually for the next three years, with ongoing intermittent surveys in between the annual BLUE field visits.
The BLUE dive team will include local scuba diving operations, conch divers as well as divers attached to the Department of Fisheries, who will all be trained in data collection by Dr Judith Brown to facilitate the conduct of intermittent surveys throughout the study period.
On February 16th 2022 a public consultation was held at Campbell, Union Island where the BLUE and SVGEF team, together with the Hon Saboto Caesar, Minister of Fisheries met with conch divers and fishers to begin the process of collecting input from fishers on fisheries management. The second community consultation shall be at Paget Farm Bequia on February 28th 2022.
Within six months of the start of the project, BLUE and SVGEF will deliver to the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines the data collected during the initial dive surveys coupled with recommendations to achieve sustainable fisheries around the islands for a ten-year sustainable fisheries plan.