Take action now to save Antigua & Barbuda's coral reefs
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The country of Antigua and Barbuda is unique in the Caribbean because of the diverse coastal environment. However the lack of fisheries management is taking a toll on the fragile marine ecosystems. There is no active management of the many legally established Marine Protected Areas, other instruments to control fisheries catches such as "bag limits", gear specifications, and closed seasons are absent and / or poorly enforced. These methods simply allow for natural replenishment of fish stocks and are scientifically proven to increase fisheries catch as a result of larger fish populations and healthier habitats. Instead, commonly used fishing methods such as gill netting results in large amounts of by-catch and many endangered sea turtles and other non-target species are needlessly killed in gill nets each year.
Yet, Antigua and Barbuda are large scale exporters of many reef fish species. Thousands of pounds of lobsters and other reef fish are exported to islands around the Caribbean each week. Incidentally, many of those same islands that gladly purchase our fish are carefully managing their own fish stocks and enforcing strict CLOSED seasons to allow for the species to naturally replenish each year. Recent news also suggests that large scale exports of seafood are being orchestrated by Chinese interests for export to China, a market reknowned worldwide for their insatiable seafood appetite. All the while, foreign vessels from neighbouring French islands are fishing freely and unchecked within the waters of Antigua and Barbuda and in many cases threatening Antiguan fishermen.
We at the Antigua Conservation Society believe our marine environment is under more pressure than it has ever been in our lifetime. We are concerned that economically important fisheries such as lobster can easily go the way of the famous Atlantic cod fishery, and collapse within a few seasons. We are concerned that parrot or "chub" fish, which clean algae off our reefs and produce our beach sand will disappear altogether, indeed it is claimed that some species already have. Many of us are fishers, and we want to see our fisheries sustainably managed for generations to come, so that our islands and people can continue to benefit from "a good catch".
Our goverment needs to pass the new Fisheries legislation which has been sitting unsigned on the Fisheries Minister's desk for years. Please sign this petition calling for PM Spencer to take action to get this important legislation passed and promulgated so that everyone knows the rules and regulations. Let's not be caught at the wrong end of the line, it's time for a change!
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Antigua Conservation Society needs your help with “Prime Minister Hon. Baldwin Spencer: Take action now to save Antigua & Barbuda's coral reefs”. Join Antigua and 2,336 supporters today.