FAB Advocates For Co-Management Plan

February 21, 2024 | 2 Comments

The Fishermen’s Association of Bermuda [FAB] proposed their “vision of what fisheries management in Bermuda could be at its best,” suggesting a “cooperative management of fisheries.”

A spokesperson said, “In February 2023, Premier David Burt invited the Fishermen’s Association of Bermuda to present an alternative plan to the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme. Since that time, fishers have met, discussed, and debated. We have given up our evenings and weekends, devoted long hours to deliberating on the root causes of longstanding issues in fisheries management in Bermuda.

“We investigated different models around the world, and watched the UK repeal MPA’s in response to action by fishers’ associations in Scotland and elsewhere. We worked with a budget of $0, and leaned heavily on the knowledge and experience of our elder members, the energy and enthusiasm of the newer participants in our industry, and the support of our families and community. We continue to be buoyed by the 5,000 signatories of our petition asking for a greater voice for fishermen in decisions affecting our industry.

“We have reflected, and we have learned, and now we propose our vision of what fisheries management in Bermuda could be at its best.

“In a word, co-management. Cooperative management of fisheries is not a new concept, it’s been around since at least the 1990s. It has been described as ‘a partnership approach, where government and the fishery resource users share the responsibility and authority for the management of a fishery or fisheries in an area, based on collaboration between themselves and with other stakeholders.’

“What does this mean in Bermuda? It means that the first people who should be consulted on major policy that directly affects their industry should be the fishermen. For a programme like BOPP, it means that consultation needs to happen before the closing of 20% Bermuda’s waters to local fishers is promised by Government to foreign NGO’s, as described in the 2019 MOU.

“Such closures are heavy handed, and generally geared toward large scale industrial fishing, not the small scale, artisanal, owner operated fishery that exists in Bermuda. The questions should have been asked: who gets to set and define this goal? Is this the right goal to be pursuing? Is it appropriate for the industry and environment it directly affects? Cooperative management means that any proposed policy change must be measured against goals and principles that are agreed upon, and clearly communicated, in advance by both Government and the industry.

“We understand that goals are important, and that there is work to be done with our industry in the interest of long term environmental, social and economic sustainability. Goals help us to measure progress, and keep all parties accountable.

“FAB proposes the new goal of working to build a co-management framework that blends industry, governance, conservation and science to manage Bermuda’s marine resources. The first and most basic building block is to be a Fisheries Management Plan, something that most countries and other jurisdictions already have in place. In 2010 the Department of Environmental Protection started this process with their document ‘A Strategy for the Sustainable Use of Bermuda’s Living Marine Resources.’

“Goals listed in that document include bringing recreational fishers into a regulatory framework, instituting a ticketing system to improve enforcement, stock analysis to better manage various species, and improving the relationship between fishers and management. All things that have also been asked for by FAB, and none of which have been accomplished in 14 years.

“FAB has worked diligently to create an outline and first draft of a Fisheries Management Plan for Bermuda. It must be understood that this is only a draft, and cannot possibly be complete without the input of the Governmental body that will ultimately be responsible for its implementation. This will be the first step in the development of a true Cooperative Management relationship between industry and Government.

“This plan does contain some specific policy ideas, but is primarily meant to define the decision making process for setting policy, so that fishers and Government approach each other with mutual respect and shared goals and principles. This is not meant to be a quick fix, a photo-op and a handshake. Hard work and time will be required to rebuild the trusting relationship that will be necessary for long term success.

“An ambitious, wide reaching plan like BOPP is doomed to failure without enthusiastic participation from fishers as a key stakeholder. FAB respectfully asks our Members of Parliament, the Minister of Home of Affairs, and the Premier of Bermuda to ensure that our country does not pursue a proposal as divisive and problematic as BOPP has proven to be. We must first get back to basics, ensure good management and a respectful working relationship, before we can proceed together, as partners, to develop a comprehensive marine resource plan with the full range of stakeholders.”

The full Bermuda Fisheries Management Plan follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (2)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “We must first get back to basics, ensure good management and a respectful working relationship, before we can proceed together, as partners, to develop a comprehensive marine resource plan with the full range of stakeholders.”

    Nice thought, but I am not expecting the PLP Government to share any power with anyone.

  2. Hilarious! says:

    Great point!
    6. Fisheries in the Greater Community Context
    d. Renewable Energy
    i. Consultation with fishing industry on placement of marine energy
    ii. Consideration of fishing exclusion zones
    iii. Environment impact studies must take into account fishers’ knowledge
    and experience

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