Funds and Baselines – Major Concerns for Caribbean FMC

The Caribbean Fisheries Management Council (CFMC;, a regional agency involved in establishing important regulations on commercial and recreational fisheries in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, held its last regular general meeting on December 15-16, 2009 at El Conquistador Hotel in Fajardo, PR. Approximately 30 attendees from public and private sectors participated. Among these were included the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, US Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources – Fish and Wildlife Divisions, various consultants and local fishermen from the US Virgin Islands. Establishing annual catch limits (ACLs) by groups of fish or by specific species was largely debated because of the lack of data on the exact number of species caught (according to one source, >50% are unreported catch) and catches are not accurately identified. Identification of fish species is one of the problems encountered by most fishermen and is a major concern when establishing fishing regulations. With this in mind, Sea Grant PR has considered making efforts to help local fishermen with identifying fish species using posters and information sheets. However, a major limitation when determining ACLs is the scarce amount of data presently available, especially those from recreational activities.

Using this meeting as an opportunity for networking and given that several fishery experts were present, we conducted a brief survey consisting of three questions about research and information needs for fisheries management (click here to view our questionnaire). Of these questions, we asked participants about the type of research that is presently required on short (<5 years) and long (5-10 years) terms in order to deal with fisheries management effectively. We also inquired about the obstacles that are presently hindering research/assessments that can help improve fisheries management. More than 50% of the attendees (n=20) participated in our survey. Results showed that 80% of those that answered our questions have more than 16 years of experience in fisheries and 58% presently work for a government agency/institution. Establishing baselines and development of fisheries management policy tools were most frequently chosen as the short-term research presently needed. Critical information that is needed for long-term research varied, but the most frequently mentioned was better data collection of species-specific catches and ages. Lack of funding was the obstacle most frequently selected among our participants along with insufficiently trained and skilled personnel.

Sea Grant Puerto Rico would like to thank the CFMC members and attendees for participating in our survey and we will be disseminating this information to National Sea Grant and NOAA. We expect that some of our sponsored research projects will help address these issues of main concern among the fisheries community.

Contributed by J. Seda

Suggested reading:

Barnes, C. and K. W. McFadden. “Marine ecosystem approaches to management: challenges and lessons in the United States.” Marine Policy 32.3 (2008): 387-92. (Free full text in our database)

Dhoray, Shanta and Sonja Sabita Teelucksingh. “The implications of ecosystem dynamics for fisheries management: A case study of selected fisheries in the Gulf of Paria, Trinidad.” Journal of Environmental Management 85.2 (2007): 415-28. (Free full text in our database)


Sea Grant Puerto Rico – Efforts for orientating local fishermen about the EEZ (Elusive Economic Zone) in the US Caribbean . (Audio in Spanish only).

The Endless Voyage: Introduction to Oceanography – Focus on fisheries management, mostly on overfishing and maintaining a sustainable use of our marine resources.


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