November 29, 2023

The RIGHT Action Plan for the Queen Conch Industry in the Eastern Caribbean

From OECS Communications Unit

uesday, May 31, 2022 — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the European Union and the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is grateful for the fruitful and productive participation of stakeholders at the ‘Regional Workshop and Validation of the OECS Blue BioTrade Action Plan for the Queen Conch Value Chain in the Eastern Caribbean’ on May 26th and 27th, 2022. This workshop was organised under the pilot project, “Seizing the trade and business potential of Blue BioTrade products for promoting sustainable livelihoods and conservation of marine biodiversity in selected Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Countries”.

The following are the main results and agreements from the discussion of the ‘OECS Blue BioTrade Plan of Action for the Eastern Caribbean Queen Conch Value Chain’ listed in accordance with their alignment to the BioTrade Principles and Criteria:

Principle 1:  Conservation of biodiversity 

Sub-regional development of management measures based upon the  best available science 

Project partners led by the OECS, UNCTAD, and CITES will work with national authorities, fishers and other key stakeholders to identify and secure conch management measures and build the necessary capacity and evidence needed to establish and implement  conservation measures base upon the  best available science.

Establishment of sub-regional queen conch nursery 

Project partners led by the OECS and in collaboration with national authorities will moblise resources to  establish a sub-regional queen conch nursery and hatchery within 12 months. This nursery and hatchery will focus on supporting restorative aquaculture efforts, rebuilding queen conch stocks, enhancing scientific and technical capacity in aquaculture approaches, and providing alternative income sources to coastal communities. 

Principle 2: Sustainable use of biodiversity 

Setting quotas based on continuous stock assessments conducted through cooperation to reduce costs

Project partners led by the OECS, UNCTAD and CITES will work with national authorities and communities to mobilise resources for stock assessments as required by CITES to gather the necessary information and knowledge for the establishment of a total allowable catch, using a collaborative management approach. This will be done in coordination and collaboration across project countries and aims to reduce the costs associated with these important studies.  

Principle 3: Fair and equitable sharing of Benefits 

Improving trade relationships with close-proximity high value end markets 

Project partners led by the OECS and UNCTAD and CITES will establish an export task force focused on enabling simplified trade mechanisms with high-demand export markets such as Martinique and other islands in the French Caribbean. In addition, the Caribbean Regional Security System will be invited to incorporate the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as part of their mandate. 

Principle 4: Socio Economic Sustainability 

Maximizing use of by-products 

Project partners led by the OECS, UNCTAD and CITES will work with national authorities, processors and producers of value-added products to document and  explore current processing and use of by-products and best practices, which will then be disseminated along with capacity building activities  that will be benefit the fishing  community 

Principle 5: Legal compliance 

Significantly improve compliance with CITES requirements and accelerate the effective implementation of the Regional Queen Conch Fisheries Management and Conservation Plan

Project partners led by CITES, UNCTAD and the OECS in collaboration with national authorities, processors and producers will work to ensure compliance with CITES export requirements and accelerate implementation of the Regional Queen Conch Fisheries Management and Conservation Plan.

Principle 6: Respect for Actors Rights 

Improve collection of socio-economic data on the fishery

The OECS in collaboration with UNCTAD and National Fisheries Authorities will moblise resources to  implement training and capacity building to improve collection, analysis and reporting of socio-economic data for the conch fishery and local/traditional knowledge on resilient and sustainable conch harvesting practices.

This plan of action will Incorporate current traditional fishers and coastal communities in any future conservation and management efforts. 

Principle 7: Right to use and access Natural Resources 

Formalization of access to queen the  conch fishery 

National authorities in collaboration with OECS, UNCTAD and CITES will formalise access to the conch fishery in project countries, through mapping of historical fishers, regularisation and enforcement of a licensing and registration system, in a way that considers historical fishing access and traditional use and rights to ensure that coastal communities and subsistence producer continue to have access to the resources in a manner that does not prejudice traditional use rights.

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