Artisinal fishing has always been an important source of employment for Caribbean coastal communities, supporting fishers, boat-builders, trap makers, fish processors, fish sellers and their families. But the reduction in the profitability of fishing over the past decade due to over-fishing, has forced many out of the sector, and forced family members to get additional jobs . Many communities have suffered from a steady rise in unemployment, some with a rise in poverty, social marginalisation and crime.
Supporting alternative forms of livelihoods helps improve the access to food and income for these families, as well as reducing fishing pressure on reef fish stocks.
The goal of C-FISH’s alternative livelihood programme is to help identify, establish and support alternative livelihoods in areas around fish sanctuaries that are environmentally sustainable, and suitable to community and the individual. Some options for alternative livelihoods that are being explored by C-FISH are in craft production, small-scale tourism, sea moss farming, aquaculture, agro-processing and apiculture (bee keeping).
Our private sector partners in the tourism sector have agreed to assist in marketing and selling these locally made products and services through their hotels, resorts and widespread business networks through the C-FISH Fund.
Photos: A fisher displays a small sized snapper as part of his catch. Decreases in quantity, size and quality of fish are indicators of the status of the fishery that so many depend upon (header, D. Hughes); One of many fishing boats for sale in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, as fishers are forced out of the sector (above right, S. Lee). Fishers check on their aquaponics pilot set up that provides a sustainable source of fish (Tilapia) and vegetables (above left, S. Lee).
C-FISH activities under the Alternative Livelihoods component include:
The C-FISH Craft Programme was identified as a key activity in the livelihood diversification component, with focus on the communities of Bluefields Bay, Oracabessa Bay and Boscobel (considered one area given their proximity) and Treasure Beach in Jamaica.
- Market access was given to 6 artisans through traditional craft fairs to promote sales, encourage artisans to improve their capacity through networking, exposure to market trends and customer interaction.
- Working with the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) to conduct baseline and in-depth artist studies to determine feasible products based on raw material availability, market demand and artist skill sets. Product development and training of 6 C-FISH products which will be sold in parter retail outlets for the C-FISH Fund, as well as by individual artisans.
- Engaging of a craft coordinator for the Bluefields area which allowed artisans to succesfully complete their first large scale order for Sandals.
- C-FISH has also partnered with the Treasure Beach Women's Group for a series of 12 community craft training sessions, and the development of 4 additional C-FISH branded products.
- C-FISH acted as facilitator to help two groups (TBWG and Bluefields Bay) increase their market access through sales at Things Jamaica stores.
Promoting a shift from Reef Fisheries to Offshore Fishing was seen as an alternative livelihood strategy that could benefit fishers who might be impacted by the near shore protected areas.
- In Jamaica, a feasibility study was completed to guide offshore activities, which is relatively untouched in the island. This study included a desktop study, fishing community and expert stakeholder consultations, and a stakeholder workshop. Coming out of the study, C-FISH embarked upon a number of activities considered to be important on the path toward sustainable offshore fishing including two training sessions sustainable fishing methods, handling and storage of offshore fish species. Participants also received safe, sustainable fishing incentives including GPS, life jackets, circle hooks, igloos, etc. Two sites - Oracabessa Bay and Whitehouse, received special storage igloos that are powered by a hybrid wind-solar energy source.
Following an alternative livelihood workshop in Carriacou, Grenada, FADs and offshore fishing was highlighted as one of the more requested options. Following this participating fishers received (in 2013) GPS and VHF radios, along with a training session to support fishing further out to sea. In 2016, a follow up 4-day workshop was held on the use of FADs, and post-harvest handling of fish.
- Similar to Grenada, a livelihoods workshop held on Union Island and Mayreau, SVG and further consultation led to the development of an offshore fishing program which involved organization capacity assessment, two 4-day workshops, a fisher knowledge exchange, saftey-at-sea equipment, and material for construction of FADs.
The Tourism or Hospitality industry was identified by MPA stakeholders as a key target to improve not only livelihood options in the protected area, but also to provide a form of sustainable financing for management.
- In Jamaica a feasibility study for sustainable tourism was conducted to determine the needs, requirements and capacity of sanctuary communties to host community-based tourism activities. This was followed by the engagement of a community-based tourism speciailst to develop business plans for both Bluefields Bay and Galleon, St. Elizabeth fish sanctuaries, outlining the necessary steps to take each site to the next level. A number of activities were implemented at the Bluefields Bay fish sanctuary, in collaboration with the C-ARK and CMBP projects, to improve the tourism product. This included national tourism training, site beautifcation, signage and promotional media (brochures, videos) creation, and informal training in the use of social media. It also included the purchasing of necessary equipment to operate tours including telecommunication equipment. C-FISH also helped facilitate a number of partnerships in the area that would support tourism development.
- In Carriacou Grenada, 5 new moorings were installed at the SIOBMPA to allow yachting tourists access to the area. Additionally, a seperate bank account was created to allow mooring and user fees to go directly back to the SIOBMPA for its management.
In St. Lucia, C-FISH supported a number of Seamoss farmers to imporve their livelihoods through:
- Development of seamoss farming as a National Vocational Qualifation (NVQ), with training of a number of farmers
- Provision of tools and gear e.g. rubber boots, wetsuits, masks and ropes.
- More effective marketing through improved safety, packaging and advertising. Two seamoss jingles were created - one in Creole and one in English - as well as a short animation helping to promote the purchasing of seamoss.
- A solar dehydration unit to improve the method and to allow greater quantitites to be produced.
- Procurement of a small boat to allow farmers to expand their range to further out at sea.
- A documentary of this process has been produced.