The Fourth Meeting of the WECAFC/CRFM/IFREMER Working Group on the Shrimp and Groundfish of the Northern Brazil-Guianas Shelf was held virtually on 18 and 19 November 2020. Among the 39 participants were Working Group Members, national fisheries officers and representatives of government organizations, academia, fishing industry, partner organizations and the FAO.
The final draft of the Sub-regional EAF Strategy and Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) for the shrimp and groundfish fisheries of the North Brazil-Guianas Shelf was reviewed. Among the issues discussed were options for the institutional mechanisms, including a technical and a decision-making body, required for implementation of the strategy and FMP. Representatives of Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago presented an overview of the current status and outlook of their respective fisheries and national FMPs. While progress has been made toward management of the shrimp and groundfish fisheries, several challenges were encountered and some stocks continued to be overexploited.
Results were presented of the pilot application of the Governance Effectiveness Assessment Framework in fisheries, pollution, and habitats and biodiversity on the North Brazil Shelf. The need for improvement in data collection was highlighted. In addition, the key findings of a decent work assessment of the shrimp and groundfish fisheries in Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago as well as at the regional level were discussed and recommendations presented. A major concern is IUU fishing in the context of human and labour rights violations and undocumented migrant workers. An update of the FIRMS inventories indicated that 29 resource fact sheets and 35 fisheries fact sheets for the WECAFC region have been produced for the reporting period 2016–2020. A call was made for Member States to submit fishery inventory updates. The proposed revised structure of the list of main species for WECAFC as well as the preliminary boundary proposals regarding FAO Fishing area 31 were discussed by participants.
An update on vessel mapping for the WECAFC-proposed regional classification of fleet segments was presented. This is based on classifying fishing vessels according to the predominant gear used, to match the diversity of artisanal vessels and gear types that exist in the WECAFC region. The proposed modified structure of the interim Data Collection Reference Framework (iDCRF) and data policy were discussed. Participants reviewed and validated the WECAFC decision support system, which will support decision making in ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF)-ecosystem based management (EBM) in the region. The current status of a concept for a follow-up Global Environment Facility (GEF) project was presented. Its aim is to strengthen capacity for implementing national and sub-regional shrimp and groundfish EAF management plans in Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Participants were also introduced to the ongoing FAO process to improve the methodology used in the FAO State of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) assessment. The intersessional work plan developed at the 3rd Shrimp and Groundfish Working Group meeting was finalized and the Working Group’s recommendations to the 18th Session of WECAFC discussed and adopted.