CLIMATE CHANGE: AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO FISHERIES

Kingston, Jamaica –  Climate change being one of, if not the biggest threat to fisheries in the Caribbean is a key takeaway from the webinar “Building Caribbean Marine Resilience” that was hosted by the Caribbean Regional PPCR on Tuesday, September 23, 2020.

This was shared by Jimena Eyzaguirre, International Team Director and Climate Change Lead at ESSA Technologies Ltd, who also mentioned in her presentation that as the Caribbean’s climate changes “the Caribbean sea will be a less habitable place for marine life” and that “the loss of habitats is projected to result in high rates of local extinctions”.

These, and other findings were part of ecological assessments done by ESSA Technologies for the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). These assessments mapped the effects of climate change on 110 marine species across the Caribbean and found that over the next few decades, we will see a decline in the amount of popular varieties of fish with a corresponding  increase in the price of fish and fish products.

Dr Susan Singh-Renton, deputy director of the CRFM put it plainly, “at the individual level, just like COVID, we will all be affected.” She also made recommendations about the next steps that the region can take, which include making use of the entire fish, and building value chains along these lines.

Education of fishers is another gap worth addressing, with Singh-Renton saying “Education is a stumbling block (in fisheries) especially as we cope with building climate resilience” – “we have to look at opportunities to educate the fishers in the fishery”.

Singh-Renton also put forward the recommendation that the region invest more in combating overfishing and illegal fishing in our waters saying “Overfishing and illegal fishing will exacerbate local extinctions” so “we need to put pressure on getting rid of illegal fishers” as this “will lessen the impact of climate change”

The Investment Plan for the Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience is a 10.9 Million USD, 5-year project, executed through the Project Management Unit of UWI’s Mona Office of Research and Innovation. Project funding comes from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), with financial oversight from the Inter-American Development Bank.

The project oversees six countries: Jamaica, Haiti, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and St. Lucia.