A report from Jamaica’s Observer.
Fisherfolk in four Caribbean countries are shortly to be equipped with an early warning and emergency response tool in an effort to save their lives and property in circumstances of rough weather and sea conditions.
The solution is a mobile phone app which is being developed by the ICT4Fisheries Consortium in collaboration with the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) under the Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR). It will work to reduce risks to fishers’ lives and livelihoods posed by climate change and climate variability.
Possible impacts of long-term climate change trends and short-term extreme weather events on Caribbean fisheries include damage to fishing and aquaculture community infrastructure — including roads, harbours, farms and houses caused by sea level rise and stronger storms — as well as unsafe fishing conditions and loss of life at sea as a result of strong storms and hurricanes, according to a 2015 study published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Other hazards influenced by climate, such as sargassum seaweed, are also of deep concern to fishers.
Using the app, fishers will be able to receive early warnings of risky weather and sea conditions. It will also be used to encourage fisherfolk to share their local knowledge to support and improve climate-smart fisheries planning, management and decision-making. The system will be integrated within existing national disaster risk management and emergency response frameworks, and its main focus will be on communications.
St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Dominica and Saint Lucia are the four countries in which the early warning system will be developed. The system will take into account the specific situations of target countries.
“ICT4Fisheries will not only develop and deploy the tools but will also provide training in their use and administration to country- and regional-level stakeholders,” the stakeholders said in a statement last last week.
The system should be in place by 2018.
The ICT4Fisheries Consortium is a multidisciplinary team comprising members from The University of the West Indies’ St Augustine and Cave Hill campuses, the University of Cape Town, and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations.
The Caribbean PPCR, meanwhile, is a regional programme that consists of six individual country pilots in Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is also a regional track of activities which supports resilience building in these countries, and will also provide benefits to the wider Caribbean.
The Caribbean Regional Track of the PPCR is working to improve regional processes to acquire, store, analyse and disseminate climate-relevant information and to pilot and scale up innovative, climate-resilient initiatives in the region, under the coordination of the University of the West Indies, Mona Office of Research and Innovation (UWI MORI). Funds are provided through the Inter-American Development Bank.
The programme’s activities are spread across four components being co-implemented by five regional institutions. The early warning and emergency response system for fishers is being developed under component four which supports climate change adaptation initiatives in key sectors, including the marine sector. Under this component, co-implementing partner CRFM, an intergovernmental regional fisheries organisation that promotes and facilitates responsible and optimal utilisation of the region’s fisheries and other aquatic resources, is focusing on activities to reduce the impact of climate-related risks on the Caribbean’s fisheries industry.