The Institute of Marine Affairs in collaboration with the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) launched on November 6th, 2020 an Integrated Environmental Incident Software Platform and mobile application: The Lionfish SeaiTT App. The App is available for free download via the Apple Store and the Google Play Store for iOS and Android users. The Lionfish SeaiTT mobile App was funded by the Green Fund of Trinidad and Tobago as a major objective of the project ‘Control and Management of the Invasive Lionfish in Trinidad and Tobago’, which commenced in 2014.
This mobile app creates a platform that allows stakeholders and the general public to conveniently report lionfish sightings, oil spills, fish kills, coral bleaching, coastal erosion and all other environmental incidents. The Lionfish SeaiTT App is user friendly as it is easy to manoeuvre with quick access entry tools and GPS location, thus allowing users to effortlessly submit information on environmental incidents. The information provided by stakeholders on environmental incidents such as an oil spill or fish kill is first verified, and then a determination is made as to whether further investigation and monitoring is warranted. The data submitted by stakeholders e.g. lionfish sightings is important for IMA’s research work, and in finding solutions to address environmental problems.
The Lionfish SeaiTT mobile App not only allows the IMA to receive information from the public, but it provides users with information on research conducted at the IMA; newsletters and press articles; notifications of upcoming events; information on the amenities at popular beaches throughout the country and daily tidal information.
We encourage environmental enthusiasts, stakeholders, students and the general public to conveniently report any environmental incidents by downloading The Lionfish SeaiTT mobile App which is now available for free via the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.
Public National Consultation – June 2018
The Fisheries Management Bill was introduced in Parliament in June 2020 after almost three decades of development. This Bill is intended to revolutionize and modernize fisheries management in Trinidad and Tobago by creating a robust legal basis for regulation of the fishing industry and management of the common property fisheries resources that belong to the people of the country.
Consistent with international best practices in fisheries management and embodied in the Bill’s principles for decision-making is a participatory approach. As such, the Bill makes provision for stakeholder involvement in the governance and decision-making process and for collaboration of government agencies with responsibilities impacting fisheries, such as trade, health, customs, finance, national security, maritime services, foreign affairs and the environment, with the Fisheries Division. Long-term sustainability of fisheries resources, and the ecosystem and precautionary approaches to fisheries management are also embodied in the Bill’s principles for decision-making.
In addition to these overarching principles the Bill facilitates: (a) protection of current fish trade markets and penetration of potential markets; (b) fulfillment of the country‘s international coastal, flag, port and market State obligations; (c) security of access by nationals to fisheries resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction; (d) strengthened control of fisheries crimes including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and (e) strengthened control of crimes associated with fishing.
The Bill expands the scope of the regulatory framework to include all fishing (artisanal, non-artisanal, commercial, recreational, national and foreign) and fishing-related activities (e.g. landing, processing, transshipment, in transit movement, trade) within the waters under national jurisdiction (Archipelagic Waters, Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone) and by national fishing vessels in areas beyond national jurisdiction; mindful that the current Fisheries Act of 1916 regulates only fishing by the national fleet up to the Territorial Sea, while the Archipelagic Waters and Exclusive Economic Zone Act regulates foreign fishing in the full extent of Trinidad and Tobago’s jurisdiction.
Some key measures of the Bill provide for:
- an administrative framework for harmonization of the fisheries management programs in Trinidad and in Tobago and establishment of fisheries inspectorates in both islands;
- development and implementation of fisheries management plans;
- establishment of a Fisheries Management Fund to be managed by a Fisheries Financial Board;
- mandatory registration of fishers and fish workers;
- mandatory record-keeping by the Fisheries Division (e.g. records of fishing vessels and fish vendors);
- institution of a system of regulated access to the fisheries resources to be implemented through a range of authorizations, licences and permits with requisite fees; this is a distinct change from the existing practice of open access to the fisheries resources;
- enhanced fisheries monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement systems including extensive duties and powers of authorized officers and observers, logbook and vessel monitoring systems, increase in the type and form of admissible evidence, a penalty system to deter non-compliance with penalties in addition to fines and imprisonment, e.g. forfeiture, banning order;
- expanded regulation-making powers of the Minister taking into consideration the changing national, regional and international circumstances and obligations.
Though primarily focusing on fisheries management the provisions of the Bill also support and strengthen national initiatives towards integrated coastal zone management. In addition to the measures above, the Bill addresses matters related to prevention and elimination of over fishing; waste minimization – including pollution from fishing vessels; biodiversity protection (including protection of fish habitat); use of scientific information and traditional and local knowledge in decision-making; sharing of data and information; fisheries scientific research and fish bioprospecting; climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk management in fisheries; protected, threatened or endangered species; establishment of marine protected areas; and designation of landing sites and associated maintenance and inspection of such sites.
Given the magnitude of the administrative, social and economic changes required for effective implementation of the Bill once it becomes law and the associated industry trade-offs (See Box 1.), the restructuring of the fisheries administrations in both islands and implementation of a change management-stakeholder awareness programme are critical elements in moving forward.
The Bill was forwarded to a Joint Select Committee for review and reporting back to Parliament by 31 August 2020. Subsequently, Parliament was dissolved on 3 July in advance of national general elections on 10 August 2020.
Elizabeth Mohammed, Senior Fisheries Officer, Fisheries Division
Louanna Martin, Fisheries Officer, Fisheries Division
Sarika Maharaj, Interim Coordinator – Fisheries Inspectorate, Fisheries Division
Nerissa Lucky, Director of Fisheries (Ag.), Fisheries Division
Trinidad and Tobago has a collective coastline length of 704 km and the country’s jurisdictional sovereignty and responsibility extends beyond the terrestrial into the marine through its archipelagic waters, territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In total, the areal extent of these encompasses 77,502 km2 of waters surrounding the islands. Trinidad and Tobago therefore has a land to sea ratio of about 1:15 that is ﬁfteen times more sea space than land space, which indicates the importance of the marine and coastal sphere to the country.
One of the troubling aspects of coastal zone management is the absence of a uniform deﬁnition as to what constitutes a coastal zone. In Trinidad and Tobago, the legislations do not provide a deﬁnition for the coastal zone, and our citizens have different perceptions of what is the coastal zone. For the purpose of the ICZM policy, the coastal zone is deﬁned as the geographical area covering both the maritime and the terrestrial parts of the shore, including off-shore islands, salt-water ponds and wetlands in contact with the sea. The coastal zone of Trinidad and Tobago shall mean all areas of sea extending to the limit of the (EEZ) and includes the shoreline and coastal lands, which are inland areas above the high water mark that inﬂuence the quality or composition of coastal waters, or are inﬂuenced in some way by their proximity to coastal waters.
The Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) is a partnership and consensus-building exercise that brings together all sectors to co-ordinate and integrate activities on the coast so as to achieve sustainable management of our coastal resources. It adopts the concept of co-management, where stakeholders share aspects of governance with the state.
In keeping with the participatory nature of ICZM, the ICZM Steering Committee held nineteen (19) pre-policy consultations with stakeholders including government agencies, the media, the energy sector and the business sector and coastal communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago. One goal of these nation-wide consultations was to determine issues stakeholders believed should be addressed by an ICZM policy and the interventions they recommend to address them.
The Steering Committee worked closely with Local Government bodies to organize and conduct the consultations. The Local Government bodies provided support in certain logistical aspects e.g. provision of venues, informing and mobilizing stakeholders to enable their participation in the consultations.
Dialogue emanating out of the consultations was successful in revealing a host of issues that affect coastal areas and interest groups around Trinidad and Tobago.
The issues most frequently voiced during the consultations were:
- The need to enhance public education and awareness on the importance of the coastal environment and the issues facing it.
- Inadequate compliance to existing laws and policies. It was felt that this was in part largely facilitated by a lack of enforcement.
- The perpetuation of unplanned and/or poorly regulated development along the coastline. Concerns were raised regarding a range of development types including squatter settlements, high-end dwellings and development for industrial and business purposes.
- The need for science to be better used to guide management. This included ensuring the needed scientiﬁc data is available as well as, when it does exist, using it more effectively to inﬂuence policy.
- Many laws, regulations, standards and/or policies relating to coastal zone management were deemed ineffective or lacking. Connected to this point, it was largely recognized that ineffectiveness of these instruments could result from inadequate capacity and resources in institutions with roles in aspects of coastal zone management.