Soufriere Fishermen Learn Longline Fishing Techniques

The Soufriere Fishermen’s Cooperative (SFC) and the Soufriere Marine Management Association collaborated on a project to send three (3) fishermen and one (1) Fisheries Extension Officer to Grenada on a one-week training course to learn longline fishing techniques. The project was made possible through a small grant from the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute. The St. Lucian trainees were hosted by the Grenada Fisheries Division who presented a compact programme including presentations on fish handling and safety at sea. The trainees were taught how to construct longlines and each participated in two fishing expeditions landing two yellowfin tunas weighing 139 lbs and 131 lbs. Trainees took note of the modifications done to fibreglass pirogues utilized by Grenadian fishers that are similar to those used in St. Lucia.

Upon return to St. Lucia, a one-day workshop was held in Soufriere where four other members of the SFC were trained in the construction of longlines. One of the trainees has since financed and constructed his own longline to start targeting large pelagics like tuna and dolphin fish (wahoo).

Funding was made available from the following partners:

Funding was provided by the United Nations Foundation under the Coastal and Marine Management and Education in the South Eastern Caribbean (CaMMESEC) project, which is being implemented by the Buccoo Reef Trust in collaboration with the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN). CaMMESEC seeks to improve the Southeastern Caribbean’s marine environment, through enhanced access to research and education facilities and expertise, and the exchange of sustainable practices for tropical islands. Project initiatives aim to reach out to managers, researchers and policy makers across the Wider Caribbean through the international network of ICRAN and partners to ensure that the existing expertise and available information for comprehensive management and marine resource monitoring purposes is further developed.

SMMA Workshop Held

The Soufriere Marine Management Association Inc. (SMMA Inc.) held a workshop for stakeholders on Water-Based Tourism at the Department of Fisheries in Castries on Monday 26th March 2012. The workshop was made possible with support from the Caribbean Marine Protected Area Management (Network & Forum) Training of Trainers course for managers of protected areas. The aim of the workshop was to educate resource users on threats to marine resources, livelihood strategies in St. Lucia, identify conflicts and initiate discussion on potential collaborative solutions to ensure sustainable use of the coastal marine resources in the Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA) and the Canaries & Anse La Raye Marine Management Area (CAMMA).

Participants were introduced to or in most cases re-sensitized on the existing rules and regulations that apply in the two marine management areas. Representatives from the Saint Lucia Air & Sea Ports Authority and the Department of Fisheries educated participants on their requisite licensing programmes and the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards delivered a presentation on the work of the bureau specifically the approved national Standard for Water-Based Tourism. A consultant shared the findings from a recently concluded situation assessment on marine tourism in SMMA & CAMMA. Participants were engaged in sharing their vision for the development of this area and worked on finding solutions to address issues that were identified.

“The SMMA has a unique and timely opportunity”, says Rich Wilson of Seatone Consulting, “to convene a new stakeholder engagement focused on best marine tourism practices. The challenge is to facilitate a collaborative process that incorporates stakeholder interests and produces mutually agreeable solutions for all parties. SMMA’s past leadership in this arena is critical, and yet the industry must also get involved if such an ambitious effort is to be successful.”

The workshop was a success with participants recognizing the diverse backgrounds of stakeholders in the marine tourism sector in St. Lucia and the need for strengthening collaboration between key agencies. The final report will be available on the SMMA Inc. website (www.smma.org.lc). One solution suggested was developing a Best Practices Manual for marine tourism operators as a guide to implement the National Standard For Water-Based Tourism. All companies involved in water-based tourism are encouraged to obtain a copy of the national standard from the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards.

Funding for this workshop was provided by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with support from the United Nations Environment Programme (Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP), the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife), Regional Activity Centre (SPAW-RAC) and the Caribbean Marine Protected Area Management (CaMPAM). The SMMA Inc. would like to recognize and commend The Discovery at Marigot Bay, the Department of Fisheries and all stakeholders who participated in the assessment.

SMMA Participates in 64th GCFI in Puerto Morelos, Mexico

The Soufriere Marine Management Association (SMMA) received a grant from the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) to undertake a learning exchange and participate in the 64th GCFI annual conference in Mexico from October 30th – November 4th, 2011.

The learning exchange contingent from St. Lucia comprises two members of the Soufriere Fishermens Cooperative Society Ltd and two staff from the SMMA who will travel to Puerto Morelos, Mexico. The St. Lucian group will meet with fishers from St. Kitts & Nevis and Mexico to share experiences and knowledge in setting up marine protected areas. The groups will also discuss the role of fishermen in managing MPAs, sustainable fishing practices and strategies to overcome challenges fishermen face. The St. Lucian MPA, the Soufriere Marine Management Area was established in 1995 and the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis are in the process of setting up a MPA in Nevis.

The St. Lucian contingent will also participate in the Fishers Forum and attend various workshops organized as part of the 64th GCFI annual conference. During the Fishers Forum, the group will get the opportunity to network with fishers and scientists from the wider Caribbean. They will also participate in a field trip to visit landing sites in Mexico.

The group was also invited to participate in the Invasive Lionfish special workshop. The objective of this special workshop is to train key personnel in strategies to manage and control the invasive lionfish in their own countries. The two SMMA staff who are SCUBA certified will get the opportunity to dive and learn safe handling techniques to remove lionfish from a protected area. SMMA’s participation in this lionfish workshop is very timely as the first sighting and photograph of a lionfish in St. Lucian waters by a local dive operator on October 19th, 2011 was confirmed by the Department of Fisheries in a recent press release.

Upon return to St. Lucia, the fishers will hold a workshop for fellow fishers in Soufriere to pass on knowledge and information acquired from the learning exchange. The learning exchange contingent is also prepared to pass on any knowledge and skills gained from the workshop in Mexico to the St. Lucia Lionfish Task Force & dive community.

This learning exchange opportunity was made possible with the support of GCFI, CaMPAM and UNEP-CEP with funding provided by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For further information on the project contact Nadia Cazaubon, Project Officer at 758-459-5500 or via email at cazaubon@smma.org.lc. For more information on lionfish invasion in Saint Lucia contact the Department of Fisheries at 758-468-4135 or deptfish@maff.egov.lc.

Invasive Lionfish Confirmed in Saint Lucia’s Waters

Press Release Issued by the Department of Fisheries, Castries, 21 October, 2011

The invasion of the Indo-Pacific Lionfish within the Northeastern Atlantic and Caribbean has has been progressively affecting the region over past years. The lionfish has a voracious appetite for eating juvenile reef fishes and it reproduces rapidly in new areas once it settles in. Based on a sighting and photographic record submitted through one of the Sandals dive centers, the Department of Fisheries this week has now verified the presence of lionfish in the waters of Saint Lucia, as sighted on a reef off the Ciceron area. This early notification of the presence of the Lionfish comes out of the swift response of the local dive company, having been part of the Lionfish Task Force set up earlier this year to facilitate St Lucia’s preparedness for the likely invasion of the Lionfish. The fish was confirmed in waters off Martinique earlier this year, having made its way steadily southwards following a gradual wave of invasion throughout the islands of the Greater and now the Lesser Antilles.

As a consequence of this sighting, the Department of Fisheries requests that all licensed dive operators and fishers now move to a higher level of surveillance in monitoring coastal waters for the lionfish. Any lionfish found should be carefully captured and, preferably frozen and brought to the Department of Fisheries where they can be examined and used in demonstrating and promoting the use of lionfish as a valuable food source. The Department has also called for a meeting of the National Lionfish Task Force to take place at its Castries office on Wednesday October 28th. At the meeting, the Task Force will seek to activate various components of the response plan. Persons are reminded that, although the Lionfish has venomous spines and must be handled very carefully using an appropriate protective barrier such as PVC gloves, it has been successfully used in many Caribbean countries and elsewhere in the world as a tasty and nutritious food fish. Developing a viable Lionfish fishery is often a key component of an effective national response.

Impact of Cargo Vessel Sinking on A Protected Area

When M/V Anglyn sank off the coast of Vieux-Fort, a few containers broke loose and floated up the west coast of St. Lucia. Three containers made their way into the protected marine zone known as the Soufriere Marine Management Area. One container was raided and sank in 60ft of water at Anse L’Ivrogne resulting in underwater debris littering the seabed, nearby coral reef flats and the shoreline from Anse L’Ivrogne to Anse Cochon. The second container was grounded at Sable Nic in the middle of two Marine Reserves at Gros Piton and the third was towed to Malgretoute and subsequently trucked out of the area.

The SMMA contracted a local tug to remove the containers from Anse L’Ivrogne and Sable Nic. The one at Anse L’Ivrogne was successfully removed however the other is still at Sable Nic after two unsuccessful attempts at removal due to the nearby shallow reefs and sea conditions. A series of cleanups both on land and underwater resulted in the removal of the majority of debris on the seabed and adjacent reefs.

The SMMA has also taken a lead role in continuing the national response to the spill and is assisting in the field assessment of possibly turning the wreck which is a navigational hazard in its present location to a dive site at another suitable location.