Fisherfolk Organizational Strengthening Workshop I

Basseterre, 9th May 2013 – Fisherfolk cooperatives from St Kitts and Nevis received advice from the Department of Marine Resources (DMR), Registrar of Cooperatives and experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

In a two-day Fisherfolk Organizational Strengthening Workshop, more than 30 representatives of the various fisherfolk organizations received training in organizational aspects, business planning, governance, leadership, team-building, legal, financial and credit issues.

Mr. Ashton Stanley, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Cooperatives, who welcomed the participants, stressed the need for strong fisherfolk cooperatives to partner with the Ministry and the Department of Marine Resources. He stated that the Ministry had embraced the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries to advance the sustainable use of the fisheries resources of the country. Fisherfolk cooperatives are to play a key role in fisheries management in the near future, but will require professionalization in their administration and functioning.

The FAO supported workshop made an initial effort towards building the required capacity of the primary and national fisherfolk organizations. This first workshop under the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme will be followed by dedicated training workshops on record and bookkeeping for fisherfolk organizations, fisheries co-management training and fish quality and safety measures spread over the coming 6 months.

Evidence from other countries shows that strong fisherfolk cooperatives are able to overcome constraints (such as poor infrastructure and limited access to services and information) and to mitigate the negative effects of high food and fuel prices and other crises. Strong fisherfolk organizations have been able to overcome market and policy constraints by providing their members’ access to a range of assets and services.

For instance, they can reduce costs to individual fishers by allowing them to purchase in groups and benefit from better retail prices of fisheries inputs, such as fuel, gears and ice. They also make it possible for members to voice their concerns and interests – and to play an important role in decision and policy making processes.

Strengthened fisherfolk cooperatives in St Kitts and Nevis will be rightful partners of the Government in the management of the countries resources. The Department of Marine Resources has outreached to the countries’ fishers and is soliciting all responsible fishers to grab the opportunities offered. Teaming-up is essential and the only way forward to curve the recent declining trends in fish and conch landings.

More information on the workshop and upcoming fisherfolk organization training events can be obtained from Mr Marc Williams, Director of the Department of Marine Resources.

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