More than 25,000 Central American fishermen and their communities depend on the Caribbean Spiny Lobster fishery, an activity that generates exports worth $140 million each year. However, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing–along with the impacts of climate change–place the way of life of the fishers, as well as the future of the marine species itself, under severe risk.
In the face of this challenge, as a part of the ResCA program, the Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector of the Central American Isthmus [OSPESCA] promotes the development and management of regional fisheries and aquaculture using an ecosystem approach in Belize, Costa Rica, the Republic of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Horacio Rodríguez, the former General Coordinator of ResCA, describes the program as follows:
The objective of the program is to increase the regional and national capacities of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster fishery in order to achieve sustainability and climate resilience while ensuring a balance between the ecological and socio-economic benefits for all participants.
To date, traceability in order to determine the origin of Spiny Lobsters is just beginning, which makes it difficult to meet the requirements of international trade and to ensure food security. In addition, the management and data collection for the Spiny Lobster is inconsistent throughout the Caribbean.
That is why the ResCA program focuses on strengthening the traceability of fishery products so that Central American countries can export their products to the markets of the European Union and the United States, while reducing illegal commercial practices and covering all data on landings and fishing efforts.
Manuel Pérez Moreno, Coordinator of ResCA OSPESCA, explains the relevance of traceability:
Another challenge is the standardization of data collection and analysis for population assessment purposes. This challenge will be met through the development and adoption of standardized forms of shipment and processing data, and through improvement of small-scale fisheries data collection guidelines.
Speaking to the same point, Manuel Pérez Moreno insists improved data is vital:
The Program, in fact, takes advantage of the lessons learned by ResCA in Belize–seeking the implementation of public policies on climate change resilience that will allow for the creation of a management plan for the fishing of Caribbean Spiny Lobster.
To this end, technology plays a key role in equipping all countries that belong to the SICA [Central American Integration System] region. Manuel Pérez Moreno tells us about the regional vision of the Program and the use of technology to enhance the sustainability impact: