On June 23-24, 2009, the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council (CFMC) met to discuss annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) for stocks determined to be subject to overfishing.
The council meeting was attended by regular members and additional stakeholders from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), territory institutions for natural resource management, federal agencies, and commercial fishermen.
Commercial fishers having the greatest at stake were the most vocal and critical of the methods used to establish limits for ACLs. One of the main arguments questioning the validity of catch limits was the manner in which they are reported. Instead of reporting by species, catches are more often reported as groups of fish type. An example is the naming of Groupers and Snappers instead of Red Hind or Nassau Groupers. The true state of the fishery is difficult to determine when data on species is missing. This particular issue created some heated discussion at the meeting.
The Puerto Rico-Sea Grant Caribbean Regional Assessment (CRA) project used this meeting to scope fishers and managers from the US Virgin Islands. However, because of the discussions, it was difficult to obtain enough time to interview the attendees. Their main focus was on the CFMC topics. On the other hand, they promised to respond to our questionnaire by email and for future consultations.
Kurt Grove – Sea Grant Puerto Rico, Research Coordinator