The Caribbean Billfish Management and Conservation Plan

The recently published Caribbean Billfish Management and Conservation Plan is the product of three years’ worth of work spearheaded by the IGFA to address unsustainable management practices of billfish stocks in the Western Central Atlantic. Between 2015 to 2018, the IGFA collaborated with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), marine scientists, fisheries management officials and stakeholders from organizations and countries throughout the Western Central Atlantic on this important project.

This Caribbean Billfish Management and Conservation Plan has been prepared to reverse the trend of declining stocks of billfish species within the Western Central Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas, and address unsustainable fishing practices. The Members of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC), Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Central America Organization for Fishery and Aquaculture (OSPESCA) and the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council (CFMC) are concerned about the billfish stocks in the region. Therefore, they developed together, through the Recreational Fisheries Working Group, and in close collaboration with all key stakeholders in the Consortium on Billfish Management and Conservation (CBMC) this plan in the period 2015–2018. The plan recognizes the mandate of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) over the billfish stocks, and supports the implementation of the ICCAT recommendations in the region.

The objective of this Plan is to outline and guide the implementation of a suite of billfish management measures over a five-year period at regional and sub-regional scales to help secure the potential future benefits that can accrue from billfish stocks in the Caribbean. The overarching goal is to improve the management and conservation of billfish stocks. Specific objectives of the plan include:

  1. Improve billfish catch, effort, biological and socio-economic data collection and reporting programs from all fisheries that target these shared stocks;
  2. Reduce bycatch, discards and overall fishing mortality of billfishes in order to achieve sustainable stock levels throughout the region;
  3. Increase coordination and collaboration between nations through a regional governance framework better suited to effectively address the Caribbean region billfish management and conservation issues;
  4. Institute the monitoring, control and surveillance of the billfish fishing effort across all fisheries through regionally harmonized mechanisms to effectively contribute to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing operations in the Caribbean region;
  5. Enhance the sustainable socio-economic performance of fisheries capturing billfishes in the WECAFC area.