Mission of the Fisheries Division:
The sustainable development and responsible management of fisheries and aquaculture activities in Antigua and Barbuda waters and in the territory of Antigua and Barbuda so as to ensure the optimum utilization of the fisheries resources for the benefit of Antigua and Barbuda and to ensure the conservation of the fish resources and the ecosystems to which they belong (Fisheries Act No. 22 of 2006).
Jurisdiction of the Fisheries Division:
The area for management includes internal, archipelagic and territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone up to 200 nautical miles where it exists. The species to be managed include all aquatic animals, including mammals, shellfish, turtles, molluscs, crustaceans, corals, sponges, echinoderms, their young and their eggs, as well as all other flora and fauna in the marine and freshwater environment.
Areas of Responsibility:
- Fisheries Data Collection, Analysis and Management
Activities include the collection of data for the management and development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector along with meeting regional and international obligations such as:
- Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy
- Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
- Recommendations and Resolutions of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission
- International Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks
- Antigua and Barbuda National Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks
- Monitoring, Control, Surveillance and Enforcement
Along with the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force Coast Guard, activities in this area are focused on reducing the level of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Antigua and Barbuda’s waters as well as meet international requirements for trade (e.g., traceability, catch certification).
- International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing
- Antigua and Barbuda’s Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing
- Extension Services and Public Awareness
Activities are geared towards:
- Strengthening fishing and processing operations.
- Diversifying the fishery resources utilised (i.e., shift fishing effort to under-utilised species).
- Enhancing the socio-economic status of fishers.
- Modernising the fishing industry mainly through the introduction of new technologies (e.g., Global Positioning System, Fish & Depth Finder) and methods of fishing (e.g., squid jigging and drop-lining around moored Fish Aggregating Device).
- Supporting the development of fisherfolk cooperative societies or associations.
- Educating the general public and fishers about fisheries conservation measures.
- Upgrading the capabilities of fishers (i.e., professionalising the sector); under Section 35 (3) (e) of the Fisheries Regulations 2013, licensed local fishers are required to undergo training in the following areas:
- Fisheries Laws and Regulations;
- Safety at Sea and Basic Navigation;
- First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification;
- Small Business Management and Record Keeping;
- Small (Outboard) Engine Maintenance;
- Seafood Safety and Quality Assurance.
Diamondback squid (Thysanoteuthis rhombus)
- Fisheries Infrastructure
Activities are directed towards providing basic fisheries infrastructure to international standards (e.g., ice-making facilities, cold storage, slipway and docking facilities, processing) at the four fisheries complexes (Urlings, Parham, Point Wharf and Barbuda Fisheries Complex).
- Seafood Safety and Quality Assurance
Activities are aimed at ensuring that safe and wholesome seafood is being traded both locally and internationally, as well as reduce post-harvest losses.
- Creation of Value Added Seafood Products
The focus is on creating value added products for import substitution using under-utilised species (e.g., smoked skipjack tuna, salted shark).
- Trade and Marketing of Seafood Products
The goal is to develop the local seafood market as well as maintain access to overseas markets (European Union, Hong Kong, mainland China, United States of America and Canada).
- Maintaining Coastal Habitats and Associated Biodiversity
The goal is to protect and preserve marine habitats and associated biodiversity. Activities include: the monitoring of marine habitats (including beaches, wetlands and coral reefs) and the creation, management and monitoring of marine protected areas. Marine protected areas include Diamond Reef, Palaster Reef, Cades Bay Marine Reserve and North East Marine Management Area.
- Aquaculture / Mariculture Development
Activities are aimed at ensuring aquaculture development is sustainable and aquaculture products are safe.
Sea-moss (Gracilaria sp.) cultivation
- Administrative and Support Services
The Fisheries Division is the focal point or is heavily involved in the management / implementation of several Multilateral Environmental Agreements and projects. These include, but not limited to:
- CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) – as Scientific Authority
- Ramsar (Convention on Wetlands) – as Focal Point
- WIDECAST (Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network)
- Convention on Biological Diversity
- UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
Point Wharf Fisheries Complex
Lower North Street, St. John’s, Antigua
Phone: (268) 462-6106 / 462-1372 / 562-4309
Fax: (268) 462-1372
Point Wharf Fish Processing Plant
Phone: (268) 562-5737 / 38
Parham Fisheries Complex
Phone: (268) 562-4920 / 21
Urlings Fisheries Complex
Phone: (268) 562-4917 / 18
The Fisheries Division appeals to fisher-folk to be prepared for the 2021 hurricane season
Senior Fisheries Officer at the Fisheries Division, Mark Archibald is appealing to fisher-folk across Antigua and Barbuda to be prepared for any eventualities that may occur during the 2021 Hurricane Season.
Archibald reminded fisher-folk that it is important to treat their livelihood just as important as any other business and a plan to secure it is key. “Have a plan in place so that you can secure yourselves as much as possible- your gear, your fishing vessel and all your other equipment and documents. He continued, “make sure, because fishing is a business and if you have a business, you’ll seek to secure your business and that would be my appeal – ‘secure your business’ so when something happens, not if, when something happens, you will be prepared and you will be able to withstand whatever the impact is on the fishing industry.”
With the dynamics of the hurricane season being unpredictable, Archibald reminded fisher-folk that they can be called upon at any time to secure their vessels. In such scenarios, the measures they have to take could include securing the vessel in place or finding a safe harbour depending on the location. Archibald explained that if the vessel is being secured in the water, especially for large vessels, there are certain things that must be considered. Having a working battery is one of them.
“Make sure your batteries are charged. Your bilge pumps should be working so that the excess water would be removed from the vessel and if you had to move the vessel of course the batteries would be ready to start your engines.’
In terms of tying up vessels, according to Archibald, the lines would have to be protected with chafing materials around the ropes so that the ropes do not get scarred from rubbing against the different areas that the vessel is secured to. Archibald said that there are usually certain locations which provide safe harbours and certain responsibilities to consider.
The senior fisheries officer said that it is the responsibility of fisher-folk to get information first-hand about a pending storm, but noted that every time a watch or warning is issued, the Fisheries Division also activates a plan. This includes going out to the different landing sites, as the Division is very involved in helping to spread the information and to assist fishermen where possible.
“We make sure that the fishers get the information- that they know what is happening and where possible, we may assist in hauling vessels in terms of using our vehicle to pull vessels that are on trailers or as we have at the Point wharf, the Parham and the Urlings complexes, skids that vessels can slide onto as we assist in keeping things organized.”
Apart from harbours at Point, Parham and Urlings wharfs, vessels can also be secured at the Market wharf and the Keeling point locations. During a pending storm or hurricane, a lot of the vessels could be hauled out in these areas onto the land. Mr. Archibald stated that for the larger vessels, some would go to commercial business entities and get their boats hauled. Such areas include Jolly Harbour in the south and North Sound and Shell beach Mariner on the other side of the island. According to Archibald, people also secure vessels in traditional mangrove areas such as Fitches Creek, Emerald Cove and Mosquito Cove, where they can be sheltered from the ravages of the storm.
Commenting on the subject of insurance for fishing vessels, the senior fisheries officer noted that very few fishers have secured insurance on their vessels and those who do, would go through the normal claims process if they incur any damage following a storm/hurricane. It would be in fishers` best interest if insurance was more widely used, but Archibald admits that there are difficulties in accessing marine insurance especially for fishing vessels. He however noted that there are some regional initiatives that are seeking to address the issue of fishing vessel insurance.
Archibald noted that before a storm, a vessel census is usually done annually at the Fisheries Division for active and inactive vessels. So shortly after a storm when an assessment is done, verifying damage would be an easier process. According to Archibald, recording losses on land would proceed almost immediately following a storm but doing same for gear loss at sea would take a while as fishers would have to get their vessels back up to working order and it would have to be safe enough to venture out.