Montserrat youth leading the way in sustainable fishing

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(L-R): Dwight Sampson, Outreach Officer; Robin Ramdeen, Site Manager Blue Halo Initiative; Dr Kathryn Mengerink, Executive Director, Waitt Institute; Parliamentary Secretary, Gregory Willock; Lester Allen, Fisherman; Kiean Joseph, Data Collections Officer; Shane Ceaser, Fisherman; [front] Leandra Lee, Fisheries Officer; Javiere Adams, Fisheries Officer

BRADES, Montserrat — A team of four young people on Montserrat recently began a one year project in sustainable fishing.

The project represents a partnership between the government of Montserrat, WAITT Institute and Blue Halo Montserrat, and is managed by the Youth and Sports Development Programme.

The team is comprised of two fishermen, an outreach officer and a data collections officer. Together, they are seeking to propose a new type of fish trap that includes the traditional way but adds biodegradable wires and a one-inch gap to the method.

The one-inch gap, together with the biodegradable wires, will allow the fishes caught inside the trap to escape if the trap drifts, thereby preventing ghost fishing. Ghost fishing occurs when the fishes caught in the traps are not retrieved by the fishers, after an extended period of time, they will eventually die.

The project began on February 8 and will be implemented over a 12-month period. It is aimed at protecting the island’s fisheries resources while encouraging youth involvement in the fisheries sector.

The Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for youth, sports and culture, Gregory Willock, was the brainchild of the project. Willock, who also serves as the coordinator of the Youth and Sports Development Programme, said this project is an excellent opportunity to bridge the age gap between the ageing fishing population with the island’s youths.

The project’s outreach officer, Dwight Sampson, believes the experimental fish trap project is critical to Montserrat’s youth becoming involved in agriculture, especially fisheries. He said the project is ideal as it showcases the benefits of fishing as a means of employment and recreation but doing so in an environmentally friendly way. He promises to use his office to raise more awareness of fishing by showing the many benefits that can be derived from a striving fishing sector on Montserrat.

According to Sampson, the project is divided into three components, the trap building stage which is nearing completion; deploying the traps and data collections stage and the third and final stage entails analysing the data and a presentation of the case file.

The project is scheduled to be completed by mid-March 2019. Thereafter, a recommendation would be made based on the findings of the experimental fish traps to become law.

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