The lobster industry is a multi-faceted, dynamic sector, which means the issues needing to be addressed are often complex and intertwined. Since 2009, the Spiny Lobster Initiative (SLI) worked to facilitate sustainable change in the Honduran lobster fishery.
In order to address these issues, a 22-member Working Group has taken the initiative to address eleven common ground goals, which span environmental, economic, social, and policy related issues. The Working Group is the Spiny Lobster Initiative and the G-FISH staff serves as a secretariat to guide the process and to provide the facilitation and networking needed to create space for innovative thinking and collaboration. In response to requests from the Working Group, G-FISH provides technical support in areas such as market expansion, environmental conservation, and policy advocacy.
SLI Hosted the 2013- Fourth Annual Technical Symposium on the Spiny Lobster Fishery in Honduras
For the fourth consecutive year, the Global FISH Alliance, through the Spiny Lobster Initiative (SLI), held their Annual Spiny Lobster Symposium in La Ceiba, Honduras from May 15-16th, 2013 entitled "Transitioning to a Reform of Fisheries". This fourth technical symposium was designed to further strengthen collaboration between key players working in the lobster fishery sector in Honduras. Around one hundred fifty four (154) stakeholders from all sectors, including 17 representatives from the Honduran national and local government, 32 members of the lobster industry, and numerous environmental and civil organizations participated in the event. Together, the participants represented key parts of the value chain of the lobster fishery, at the regional, national, and international level (United States, Bahamas and El Salvador).
The objectives of the symposium were to: 1) Strengthen technical fisheries expertise and improve local and national capacity for management; 2) Promote application of current regulations across Central America regarding the transition of the fishery; and 3) Ensure good fishing practices for the growth, regulation, and monitoring of a safe and sustainable fishery.
Highlights from the Fourth Spiny Lobster Symposium include:
- Broad representation of key sectors: With the participation of 154 members representing all the sectors involved in lobster fishery, twenty-nine Honduran government officials representing ten ministries were in attendance including members of governmental agencies that make up the Intergovernmental Commission for the Prevention and Treatment of the Problem of Dive Fishing (CIAPEB), who participated in the different technical workshops. Governors, mayors, and vice mayors from Gracias a Dios (La Moskitia) and the governor of Atlantida were also present to strengthen collaboration on the lobster fishery. Diver associations participated and the lobster industry was well represented with the participation of 49 members, including 32 members of the industry (owners and captains of dive and trap boats), plus four seafood processing plants from La Ceiba and the Bay Islands, and key buyers like Darden Restaurants, Inc. from the U.S.
- Constructive debate on fisheries: DIGEPESCA representatives discussed several key issues related to the lobster fishery including 1) Expressing the need for follow-up with the Congressional Review Committee on the adoption of the new fisheries law in Honduras, which is expected to be approved in the near future; and 2) Honduras Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (SAG/DIGEPESCA) expressed political will to present an action plan for transition of the dive fishery with an extension of diving in 2013, in preparation for the permanent ban of the activity. This plan will be presented by the Minister of SAG at the next OSPESCA meeting of Central American Fisheries Ministers in June in Costa Rica.
- Participation of media: The media covered the event interviewing participants and attending a press conference with Miskito representatives, members of the industry, and governmental authorities.
- Widening of technical knowledge: Technical sessions created a platform for dialogue, information exchange, and learning opportunities on various topics supporting reform of the lobster fishery.
- Better stakeholder dialogue: The symposium generated space for consultation, dialogue, and negotiations among all the participants in the lobster fishing industry creating traction for further partnership to develop joint strategies.
Closure of SCUBA Diving in Honduras and National Plan for Transition 2013-2015
In July 2013 after national governmental and regional meetings, the Central American countries (including the Honduran government) amended the regulation on the ban of commercial lobster diving scheduled to go into effect in June 2013, and another two-year extension period was granted for the transition to closure. In late September 2013, the Regional Fisheries authority, OSPESCA, shared the Regional Plan for Transition and Closure of Diving for Honduras and Nicaragua with the donor community. The two-year regional transition Plan describes the conditions of the transition, including the different phases of the closing, financial strategies, and technical aspects. The plan focuses on key areas; creation of alternative livelihoods for divers, protection of the fisheries grounds, financing opportunities, and the reconversion of the lobster diving industry.
The regional plan also provides strategies for the reconversion of the diving industry by reducing fleet size and harmonizing fishing techniques; however, little details are provided on how this will be funded. While the reconversion of diving boats is mentioned in the plan, very few details have been provided on how to achieve this and if funding will be made available. Additionally, regulations and governmental actions are required to be put in place for the enforcement.
To promote and strengthen a more transparent process, SLI encouraged the national government to widely circulate the plan and has made its database of over 350 members available to the government for dissemination. In addition, SLI and CME collaborated to support extended media coverage of the dive issue in Honduras in El Heraldo. Articles were run for a full week in July and can be found here: http://www.elheraldo.hn/Secciones-Principales/Al-Frente/Misquitos-piden-area-exclusiva-para-pesca-artesanal-langostera.
Declaration of a marine territory for the exclusive use of artisanal fishing for Honduran Miskito indigenous population
In an effort to establish an ecosystem-based approach to management of fisheries and empower marginalized groups, SLI has been working with TNC and the CME to establish an indigenous rights-based artisanal fishing zone, combined with designated no-take zones in the Miskito Cays. The reserve will be 15,400 km2, approximately 1.5 million hectares, and within this area, it is proposed that 20% be declared as no take zones. The program will work specifically at building the ability of fishers groups to manage their own fisheries, filling the current vacuum in marine governance by providing tools to collect, analyze and interpret fisheries information at a local level. Ultimately the program seeks to develop a network of fish refuges and build their effective management through fisher-led no take reserves that will encompass 20% of the suitable fishing areas in Honduran Caribbean waters by 2016.
A consultation on the latest iteration of the bill drafted by La Moskitia governor and congressman needs to be held among local stakeholders and industry. This will be an important step to harmonize concepts, zoning, limits and management towards getting final consensus. Given the incoming presidential elections in November 2013, local stakeholders from Moskitia have decided to wait post-election and to re-start this process of consultation and the declaration in early 2014 with the new governmental authorities.
Darden Restaurants, Inc. Partnership
Darden Restaurants, Inc. has been a key partner of G-FISH since the beginning of the program. Darden requested that G-FISH assist them with their CGI commitment of doing fisheries improvement projects and the development of an investment fund by creating an assessment and list of opportunities in Honduras. The 30-page assessment included inputs from partners interested in working in Honduras.
The lobster fishery in Honduras is very complex with diverse stakeholders and issues related to environmental degradation, economic stability, governance, human health, labor, and social justice. In order to address these issues, FHI 360 was asked to develop a conservation assessment in order to shape the development of a new Fisheries Investment Fund (FIF). The assessment has two main components: 1) the context and landscape of the social, economic, and environmental issues related to the spiny lobster fishery; and 2) opportunities for investment based on input from partners.
Consensus among experts is that there are several key things that need to happen to achieve this goal: the functional close of the SCUBA dive fishery (officially or through market forces and alternative livelihoods); better management of the industrial trap fishery (access and traceability); and development of a sustainable artisanal fishery.
Darden has also been in contact with other organizations in the region to enlist further investment and partnerships. In September 2013, Darden sent a request to USAID Honduran Mission, including a request for their continued engagement on the issue through the Global FISH Alliance. The USAID Mission is scheduling a meeting in mid-December 2013 to discuss future engagement.
Spiny Lobster Initiative Transition
The Global FISH Alliance project activities closed at the end of September 2013. A no-cost extension has been granted through December 30th to do the operative close-out for the Spiny Lobster Initiative in the field and to transition responsibilities to local stakeholders and organizations to continue the work. An initial transition meeting was held with SLII working group in July 2013 to start this dialogue. So far, it has been agreed that the communications and networking component will be carried on through the coordination of the Center Marine Ecology (CME) in collaboration with other technical partners. The elaboration of the SLI bi-monthly newsletter and its dissemination will continue to be coordinated by Pesca del Atlántico, an industry member who is already handling this. The Smithsonian Institute (SI) will also be part of the technical partners who will continue to support the research component. To strengthen, the capacity of the local organization, the SLI equipment and office furniture will be donated to the Miskito indigenous associations according to a disposition plan approved by USAID. Finally, the SLI staff will be let go in December 2013, but are hopeful they will be able to transition to other technical partners who will continue coordinating activities.
A final closing program event with the core group and the national value chain stakeholders of the Spiny Lobster Initiative in Honduras will take place on November 19th2013 in La Ceiba. At this event, a full package of information and SLI contacts database will be distributed, in addition to presenting the main highlights and remarkable actions taken by the stakeholders through the life of the project and announcing important commitments from the stakeholders to continue certain actions.
Closed Season for Lobster Fishery
In compliance with Central American Integration System (SICA) Regulation OSP-02-09, all lobster fishing was suspended and the third lobster closed season started throughout Central America March 2012. During this period, G-FISH / SLI worked together with local technical partners to develop a plan to engage the lobster fishery stakeholders in collaborative actions, a lobster technical fishery symposium, and media coverage.
Closure Diving in Honduras and National Plan for Transition
As a signatory to OSP-02-09, The Government of Honduras has thus far upheld the ban on commercial lobster diving scheduled to go into effect in July 1, 2013. After considerable lobbying by different stakeholders, including the Spiny Lobster Initiative, in September 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG) and the Directorate General of Fisheries (DIGEPESCA) shared the National Plan for Transition and Closure of Diving in Honduras with the donor community. SLI encouraged the government to circulate the plan widely, and shared its database of over 310 members with the government for dissemination. In March 2013, it is unclear if the Government of Honduras will support its commitment.
The Transition Plan described the phases of the closing, financing strategies, and the technical approach. It focuses on key areas including creating alternative livelihoods for divers, protection of the fisheries grounds, financing opportunities, and the conversion of the lobster diving industry. The plan will transform the diving industry by reducing fleet size and harmonizing fishing techniques. An intergovernmental commission, a coalition of eight governmental agencies (health, labor, human rights, marine merchant, fisheries, environment, and planning and ethics affairs), and representatives from the National Congress and the President's office are coordinating the plan. The budget for the transition is $19,258,000. However, few details are provided on how to fund certain aspects such as the conversion of diving boats. Additional regulations backed by government enforcement will be required for a successful transition.
A small grants program supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (SERNA in Spanish) and UNDP has been established to fund the development of alternative livelihoods in La Moskitia with a focus on protecting the environment and encouraging local development. Projects will be managed by community-based organizations. MAREA will match funds with the UNDP/PPD Small Grant Program to support 15 projects in La Moskitia, which SLI helped develop in 2010.
In regards to zoning and the protection of fisheries grounds, the plan presents efforts by SLI partners, such as The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Center for Marine Ecology (CME) to create a fisheries and marine reserve network in northern Honduras. This ambitious five-year project aims to empower fishing communities and the industrial fisheries sectors to take responsibility for marine stewardship. The goal is to engage fishers in the decision making process, including in the designation, monitoring, and protection of no take reserves as a tool to recuperate declining fish stocks.
The government of Honduras recognizes SLI's expertise in mediation and facilitation, and SLI's role will continue to be to provide trainings and outreach, and to serve as a neutral facilitator for dialogue and information exchange to encourage a smooth transition.
Declaration of an Exclusive Use Artisanal Fishing Marine Territory for the Honduran Moskito Indigenous Population
In an effort to establish an ecosystem-based approach to management of fisheries and empower marginalized groups, SLI has been working with TNC, CME, and stakeholders from La Moskitia to establish an indigenous rights-based artisanal fishing zone, combined with designated no-take zones in the Moskito Cays. The total proposed area of the reserve is 15,400 km², approximately 1.5 million hectares, of which 20% is proposed as no take zones. This program will work specifically at building the capacity of fishers groups to manage their own fisheries, filling the current vacuum in marine governance by providing tools to collect, analyze, and interpret fisheries information at the local level.
Currently, local Miskito stakeholders are seeking participation of the private and government sectors to encourage local authorities and fishers to manage their fisheries sustainably and profitably through good practices and environmental responsibility. SLI facilitated meetings in La Ceiba, Moskitia, and Roatan, to ensure wide participation in the elaboration of the technical proposal for marine reserves that was submitted to the governmental and is now awaiting legal declaration by the Honduran National Congress. To formalize the agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on September 13 amongst the Miskito authorities and indigenous organizations based in the region, including MASTA, Mimat/Dakni, APBGAD, AMHBLI, and SEPLAN.
Mrs. Nora Trino, Governor of La Moskitia, who championed this initiative together with a representative from MASTA, presented the proposal for the declaration of the marine reserves in the Miskito Cays (54 in total) to the President of Honduras at the Minister's Council in Tegucigalpa in late September. The proposal currently rests with the National Institute for Conservation and Forest Development, Protected Areas, and Wildlife (IFC) for final approval and official declaration. SLI facilitated meetings in La Ceiba and the Bay Islands with the private sector for sensitization around the proposed protected areas. This was an important step towards gaining consensus on concepts, zoning, limits, and management.
Productive Exchange of Honduran Lobster Scuba Diving Leaders and Governor of La Moskitia with Artisanal Fishers in Belize
In 2012, as part of SLI's objective to empower marginalized groups to manage fisheries sustainably and to assist with the transition efforts away from diving for lobster, SLI and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sponsored an exchange of four community leaders from the Active Miskito Diver Association and the Governor of the Moskitia with artisanal lobster fishers in Belize. The purpose of the exchange was to learn about the importance of responsible fishing areas by looking at the experience in Belize, and to demonstrate how to achieve economically sustainable lobster fishing while preserving the marine ecosystem of La Moskitia.
The exchange trip was well received by the participants. The trip started in Belize City with a presentation given by a Fisheries Department representative on the establishment of fisheries management in Belize, how the different components of the fisheries department connect together through licensing, control and monitoring, and the setting of quotas to provide management to national fisheries. This presentation illustrated the need for participatory management of fisheries with active involvement from a government fisheries department. Next, participants met with fishers in Sarteneja and Punta Gorda to look at how they are diversifying their fisheries beyond conch and lobster. Tours of cooperatives and presentations by TIDE and EDF, two NGOs working with local associations, demonstrated ways to link to the value chain, as well as briefings on rights-based fisheries approaches and co-managing marine reserves. The journey concluded with a tour of the Port of Honduras marine reserve to see how the rangers enforce the regulations of the park and a demonstration of how to build and deploy lobster shades.
The Miskito delegation was excited to learn that there were many ideas being piloted in Belize that could be replicated in La Moskitia. Importantly, behind all the projects were well-organized associations or cooperatives with which donors and other organizations could work. Participants presented lessons learned from the trip at the Third Technical Lobster Symposium in La Ceiba in May. As a follow-on, the Governor from La Moskitia has engaged local stakeholders in the establishment of a Miskito indigenous rights-based responsible use fishing area in combination with no-take zones in La Moskitia—the largest responsible use area in Meso-America. The Center of Marine Ecology, SLI, and TNC have been working with the Governor and local populations as partners to provide technical assistance to the local stakeholders in this initiative.
SLI Hosted the Third Annual Technical Symposium on the Spiny Lobster Fishery in Honduras
For the third consecutive year, the Global FISH Alliance, through the Spiny Lobster Initiative (SLI), held their Annual Spiny Lobster Symposium, "Transitioning to a Reform of Fisheries," in La Ceiba, Honduras, May 29-30, 2012. This third technical symposium was designed to strengthen collaboration between key players working in the lobster fishery in Honduras. A focus of the symposium was transitioning away from dive fishing for lobster and the government's plan for the transition prior to the ban in 2013. The agenda included technical panels, presentations, as well as trainings on fisheries management. Around 145 stakeholders from all sectors participated in the event. The participants represented key parts of the lobster fishery value chain at the regional, national, and international levels.
The objectives of this symposium were to:
- Strengthen local capacities and national governance mechanisms of the lobster fishery
- Disseminate knowledge about the implementation of measures undertaken to transition away from dive fishing for lobster in Honduras
- Raise awareness with actors at all levels about how to implement activities and strategies for managing the spiny lobster fishery
- Facilitate the reform process throughout the entire system with a focus on the lead role of the government in the new fishery law framework in Honduras.
Media Awards for Excellence in Sustainable Lobster Fishery Coverage
SLI sought to promote greater transparency and equity in coverage of lobster fishery issues in Honduras. Together with the Chamber of Tourism of La Ceiba and local partners, SLI launched a five-month media competition to encourage increased coverage of topics such as the state of the lobster fishery, environmental sustainability, conservation of marine ecosystem, biodiversity conservation, tourism, and security in Honduras to recognize journalistic excellence. The finalists were recognized during an award ceremony that was held in September at CEUTEC, Technical University in La Ceiba. Eleven journalists from different media outlets along the north coast of Honduras received awards and one media company was recognized for its coverage.
This media award program promoted lobster fishery issues in national and regional media, providing an opportunity to cover topics such as best marine and fisheries practices, conservation strategies, transition activities and to highlight the role of the good practitioners. A component of the program included training participants in best marine practices and responsible fishing enabling journalists to improve the clarity and accuracy of information on marine issues. In addition, the activity strengthened the consistency of core messages stressing responsible behavior; thus engaging the media in a more the proactive role of informing stakeholders and encouraging them to act responsibly.
USAID/Honduras Meeting with Honduran Government and Partners about Transition
The USAID Mission in Honduras hosted a meeting on September 25, 2012, with the governmental fisheries authorities to move forward on the lobster fishery transition. Representatives from NOAA, Darden Restaurants, the Hyperbarich Chamber, SLI, CME, and USAID / MAREA attended. The objective of the meeting was to establish a road map for the partners and the Government of Honduras (GOH) to implement the transition plan for closing the scuba lobster diving dated in June 2013. Dr. Juan Carlos Ordonez, Vice Minister of Fisheries, encouraged moving toward the transition of the fishery and the end of scuba diving for lobster in Honduras.
G-FISH and Spiny Lobster Initiative (SLI) Participation at the 10th Seaweb Seafood Summit in Hong Kong
G-FISH participated in a panel presentation on the spiny lobster fishery at the 10th Seaweb Seafood Summit, September 6-8, 2012. Jimmy Andino, Chief of Party for SLI, and Mrs. Glenda Pena, a Honduran private sector fisheries representative, presented on "Catalyzing Change from Supply to Demand through Public Private Partnerships: The Central American Spiny Lobster Fishery". The panel provided an opportunity to exchange approaches to social change in fisheries, and how to engage the private and public sectors in fisheries management. Jimmy and Glenda presented two success stories of indigenous fishers' engagement with the private sector.
Spiny Lobster Initiative (SLI) Participation at the XVI Congress of the Mesoamericana Conservation Society in Panama
SLI participated at XVI Congress for the Mesoamericana Conservation Society in Panama, September 17-21. The congress, titled "Sustainability of the water resources and biodiversity in Mesoamerica," is one of the largest conservation forums in Central America, with over 400 participants from universities, regional environmental projects, Central American governments, donor organizations, and environmental NGOs. Jimmy Andino and Hugo Escoto from SLI attended. At the Congress, Jimmy Andino, SLI's Chief of Party, presented a poster, "Spiny Lobster Initiative: a social change in the fisheries". SLI also participated in a full day marine coastal symposium for Central American fisheries. This congress presented a unique opportunity to inform and exchange technical expertise about SLI activities in Honduras. It was a great forum to highlight the social change behavior paradigm in the lobster fishery and to exchange information among the conservation community of the Mesoamerican region.
2013 Priority Actions:
- SLI will work with regional partner BCIE-CAMBio and the scuba diving industry in the transition activities, including the establishment of a trust fund for industry and fishery conversion
- Develop a communication campaign aimed at local stakeholders to promote responsible fishing phase out the lobster scuba diving
- Work with the partners and the local working group to foster industry and fishers exchanges in 2013, including at the IV lobster Technical symposium in May
What was meant to be a one year program has turned into a very successful three-year program. In this last year of G-FISH support for the Initiative, we are exploring options that will allow the Initiative and Working Group to continue in its pursuit of creating a safe, sustainable and profitable lobster fishery for all stakeholders.
Thus far, 2011 has been a busy and productive time for the Spiny Lobster Initiative (SLI). As changes to the Honduran fisheries law are being discussed, a transition away from diving for lobster is being pursued, and a strong push for the development of alternative livelihoods in La Moskitia region of Honduras are explored; the SLI has been working to mobilize stakeholders to bring positive change to these issues.
Lobster Symposium II: From June 1-3, 2011, the Global FISH Alliance through the Spiny Lobster Initiative (SLI) in Honduras hosted the second spiny lobster symposium "Strengthening the lobster fishery through better management, governance, and administration for a healthier environment" in La Ceiba, Honduras. The second technical symposium for the spiny lobster fishery had a more regional approach and included participation from stakeholders throughout Central America. The agenda was shaped by technical panels, thematic workshops, oral presentations, and field trips.
The objectives of the symposium were to strengthen and improve fisheries by building mechanisms for improved governance of the lobster fishery and promoting effective implementation of regulations. In addition, the symposium supported the application of good fishing practices for growth, control, and maintenance of the lobster fishery throughout Central America. At the event, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries announced a two year extension to allow scuba dive fishing to continue while fishers transition to different livelihoods. The symposium included workshops to promote safe diving during the two-year extension on scuba dive lobster fishing.
- Approximately 170 individuals attended the event from eight countries representing four sectors: environment, government, private sector, and civil society.
- Twenty-eight representatives from the Honduran government, DIGEPESCA, attended including 17 who participated in different workshops.
- The symposium was technically supported by USAID MAREA and the regional authority, OSPESCA. Different donors contributed to the event including USAID MAREA, BCIE, NOAA, OSPESCA, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and more. Some were particularly interested in seeing the G-FISH SLI continue and discussions were started about how to make it a regional effort.
- This technical event enabled captains, divers, operators, and processors directly involved in the extraction of lobster to receive training and learn about the regulatory framework for the next fishing season.
- DIGIPESCA publically announced the two-year extension with the confirmation of OSPESCA.
- DIGIPESCA shared their interest in developing a new fisheries law based on best practices citing FAO management guidelines.
- The technical themes of the workshops reoriented the focus toward implementing a strategy for a sustainable, profitable, and safe fishery throughout all of Central America. Eleven representatives from diverse Central American fisheries presented their efforts and successes in collaborative activities throughout Central America.
- Provincial authorities including the Governor of Gracias a Dios (The Moskitia) and Governor of Atlántida (La Ceiba) attended ensuring the ongoing political advocacy strategy for the lobster fishery with the Commission on Fisheries in the National Congress is based on sound practices.
- The dive industry was well represented with the participation of 55 captains and divers, members of the Association of Industrial Fishing Caribbean Honduras (APICAH), and five seafood packing companies (EMPROMAS).
- The workshop on safe diving in the lobster fishery was made mandatory by APICAH and 55 captains and divers were trained for three days and received DAN certification.
- The MASPLESCA Initiative held a training workshop for 16 DIGEPESCA inspectors on the application of rules OSPESCA 02-09 on the lobster fishery in Central America.
- The lionfish demonstration and tasting allowed many to see and taste the lionfish for the first time and resulted in industry discussions on how to move forward.
- The symposium received TV and print media coverage. The media were heavily involved in coverage of the event and interviewed participants.
For more information, see the full report (right click and "save as" to download pdf).
Engaging with Partners: SLI engaged international and national partners to create collaborative actions in some technical expertise field: COBI (trap lobster certification), NOAA, Project Green Jungle (lionfish), and EDF (catch shares). SLI continues to develop new relationships
DIGEPESCA prepared a two-year extension request to the regional fisheries body, OSPESCA, for lobster diving. The justification for the request is that Honduras is not ready to transition due to lack of alternative livelihoods and economic opportunities in La Moskitia. Closure in 2011 will hurt the community and cause unemployment unduly affecting families in that region. The SLI was approached about the extension request and has been working with DIGEPESCA and the SLI stakeholders to convey and create an action plan for the transition if the extension is approved. This action plan will be based on concrete actions and clear changes amongst all the partners and lobster stakeholders to measure the gradual decrease of the lobster diving until total closure after the extension period. Simultaneously, preventive measures against health concerns, including hyperbaric medicine first aid and other trainings, need to be taken during this extension period in order to prevent accidents and human loses.
In January 2011, the SLI engaged the Central American Markets for Biodiversity (CAMBio) project, which promotes conservation and sustainability through enterprise development, to bring support to SLI partners looking for alternatives to dive fishing for lobster as a livelihood. CAMBio prepared and executed two trainings focused on the guidelines for applying to the CAMBio loan program for fisheries and tourism projects. These trainings were for a diverse audience of fishers and the SLI working group members. Moskitia and Garifuna fishers looking for alternative livelihoods were trained on how to apply for CAMBio loans. In addition, the CAMBio Coordinator for Honduras agreed to assist fishermen in the technical loan and grants application processes going forward. This will bring economic growth and safeguard livelihoods in La Moskitia and the north Garifuna region.
SLI continues to engage the CAMBio Project to support other workshops, such as the second annual Lobster Symposium and trainings for the SLI working group members. Those activities aim to increase knowledge about fisheries management tools and fisheries laws. CAMBio requested that SLI prepare a six month calendar of activities that CAMBIO could help support.
The SLI identified the lionfish invasion as an opportunity to promote alternative fisheries. Spiny Lobster staff has been in discussion with Project Green Jungle and NOAA in order to collaborate on this alternative fishery and build knowledge about lionfish. SLI working group members are proposing a lionfish workshop amongst the SLI stakeholders to learn about the fishery along the north coast of Honduras to create potential alternatives for Miskito divers and Garifuna artisanal fishermen.
Guidance for the Sustainable Seafood Campaign: the SLI started providing technical guidance for the Sustainable Seafood Campaign led by the Roatan Marine Park (RMP). The SLI is reviewing seafood guides and campaign materials to promote the sustainable consumption of seafood in restaurants in Roatan and Utila. SLI partners are working together to strengthen the network of local partners, including restaurants and hotels, to launch the seafood campaign. SLI involvement has allowed the campaign to gain more visibility than originally anticipated. In late March, Roatan Marine Park started the first trainings of restaurant staff.
Technical Exchange: early in 2011, the SLI was invited to participate in a technical exchange workshop for fishers held in Baja, Mexico called "De Pescador a Pescador" sponsored by NIPARAJA and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The SLI Working Group selected two lady fishers from the Honduran fisheries system to represent the Honduras lobster fishery at the workshop. Upon return, the SLI has engaged the two women to share and promote the valuable information gained at the workshop with presentations to transfer knowledge about the importance of sustainable fisheries and how they bring value to a community.
Formation of a Congressional Special Committee: In March 2011, Roberto Reynaud was appointed the new Director of DIGEPESCA. Shortly following his appointment, the SLI engaged the new Director by both providing information about the work SLI has done mobilizing the lobster fishery system and meeting with him and selected SLI working group members. This meeting featured the role of the SLI and its engagement with DIGEPESCA and important topics such as the lobster diving closure and the new fisheries law for Honduras. SLI will continue to be in communication with the Director and his advisors. As a follow up, the fisheries law will soon be released to the working group so they can be actively involved in the action plan for extension of the lobster diving closure process.
Members of the Spiny Lobster Initiative (SLI) Working Group took advantage of an opportunity to speak directly with congressional representatives and lawmakers during a session of the National Legislative Congress held in La Ceiba in May 2011. SLI members created momentum to bring lobster fishery onto the agenda, particularly in regards to the legislation and political visibility. Working group members first met with Venancio Sabio, the Atlantida-La Ceiba Governor who agreed to lobby other Congressmen about the important role of SLI and to bring lobster fishery into the political agenda. Mr. Sabio was able to get two governors from Moskitia and Bay Islands, as well as three congressmen from Moskitia, Bay Island; and Atlantida on board to discuss the lobster fishery issue at the upcoming Congressional session.
While the National Congress was in La Ceiba, the WG members met with congressmen and discussed the new fisheries law and the diving issue in particular. With the support of the governors from Atlantida, Bay Islands, and La Moskitia, they drafted a petition to ask Congress for the creation of a Congressional Working Group on fisheries. When Congress was in session, the fisheries issue was brought to the floor in front of the full Chamber (128 members), and the congress agreed to create a special Commission on Fisheries, which included representatives from Bay Islands, Moskitia, and others. Subsequently, the Working Group helped draft the technical objectives with the Organization of Fishing and Aquaculture in Central America (OSPESCA) and talked to participants at the symposium to create mandate for the newly formed Commission. The Fishery Commission in the Congress is now playing a key role in the formulation and approval of bills for the fishery sector in Honduras, including the lobster fishery.
Honduran Fishery Law: The governmental authority in charge of regulation and fishery management, DIGEPESCA, a SLI partner, has been working to develop the new fishery and aquaculture law for Honduras through a series of technical meetings and has hired a consultant to coordinate the process. During August and September, DIGEPESCA held a series of regional consultations with fisheries stakeholders across Honduras based on recommendations from SLI Working Group members. This was important to have a genuine consultation process amongst the stakeholders for drafting the new fisheries law. Several SLI members and lobster stakeholders were invited to participate in these consultation workshops, and in La Ceiba, Roatan (Bay Islands) and La Moskitia, SLI co-facilitated. During these events important feedback and critical comments and suggestions were collected. DIGEPESCA is currently drafting the final version of the bill, which the Minister of Fisheries will submit to the National Congress in late October, at which point debate will start around the new law.
Delay in Fishing Season: SLI facilitated dialogue between the between the Miskito Diving Association and APICAH to delay the opening of the fishing season by one month to August 1st, 2011. APICAH requested a disposition from the government to delay the opening of the season by one month because the lobsters were still small and divers were still undergoing training, and the extension was granted. The agreement to delay the opening of the fishing season was an important accomplishment in order to conserve resources and guarantee that lobsters grow to legal size before being fished, and a direct result of APICAH's attendance at the SLI Lobster Symposium.
Despite this delay, when the fishing season officially opened in August, the lobster production was still not as expected and economic losses were reported. Additionally, lobster divers experienced difficulties with the arrival of rainy season; therefore, some members of APICAH further advocated for a mini closure among the diving industry and were able to collect the necessary signatures from partners to comply with a mini-ban.
The mini-ban is set to occur from mid-October through November. The ban is intended to protect lobster resources since they were not adequate yet for commercialization. During the closure period, a series of trainings on safe diving have been planned for Miskito divers and medical examinations can also be performed.
During the course of 2010, the Spiny Lobster Initiative Working Group catalyzed many actions, collaborating to bring about positive change to the Honduran lobster fishery in 4 focus areas: environment, economic, social, and policy. Below are some of the achievements by the Working Group in each focus area.
- Identified knowledge gaps and collected data on fisheries in the north coast of Honduras.
- Identified zoning sites to conserve the spiny lobster.
- Assisted with the Roatan Marine Park and Utila Center for Marine Ecology collaborative sustainable seafood campaign.
- Facilitated the Association of Miskito Divers initiation of action for government assistance to create an Environmental Plan for the Marine Shelf in La Moskitia.
- Began widening access to new markets for lobster and other fisheries.
- Held trainings for stakeholders in the fishery value chain about how to improve best quality product for exporting.
- Worked with the private sector (processors and boat owners) in regard to learning about certification standards for trap lobster fisheries.
- Hosted a roundtable for journalists in La Ceiba on the state of the lobster fishery in Honduras in April 2011.
- Assisted with the exploration of alternative livelihood options for Garifuna and Moskitia fishers.
- SLI Working Group serves as a Technical Advisory Group for the Minister of Fisheries and the Director of DIGEPESCA.
- Divers Industry Association began negotiations with the Government about the transition of lobster diving in 2011.
- SLI Working Group initiated a consultative process with GOH to help with the implementation of the new fisheries laws.
Some key activities of the Spiny Lobster Initiative in 2010 included:
Spiny Lobster Fisheries Technical Symposium: More than 200 Honduran and Nicaraguan participants came together June 19, 2010 in La Ceiba, Honduras for the first Spiny Lobster Fisheries Technical Symposium. The Symposium was a collaborative effort of more than 30 members of the Initiative. The concept and agenda were created by members of the Spiny Lobster Working Group with technical leadership from WWF. The Symposium was funded with contributions from the Central American Economic Integration Bank, Grupo Kativo (commercial paint company promoting green products), the Association of Honduras Industrial Fishers (APICAH), the Caribbean Fishers Association (APESCA), DIGIPESCA (the Honduras Fisheries Directorate), the Honduras Navy and UNDP, as well as USAID through the SLI project. Participants included representatives from the Honduras and Nicaragua private sector, government, civil society, environmentalist, donors, and the media. After the symposium, the Central American Integrated Economic Development Bank expressed interest in providing loans for several of the new proposals.
For a full report of the symposium, click here.
Involving the media as a partner in the Initiative: One of the principles of SCALE is to involve the media as partners rather than simply a channel of (paid) communication. The media strategy focuses on collaborating with the Honduran Environmental Journalist Association to co-sponsor meetings, trainings and field trips. The first "Journalist Fishing Sector Discussion" was conducted in mid-April.
Strengthening networking and communication: The Initiative is supporting communication and networking among an increasingly wider number of groups, organizations, companies and government agencies interested in supporting a sustainable fishery. This is achieved through a monthly Spiny Lobster Initiative newsletter, facilitating Working Group and other intersectoral meetings, establishing interactive portal forum, and supporting intersectoral communication.
Connecting the Donors: At the request of several donors, the Initiative facilitated a Donor Meeting. The objective of the meeting was to share information about their funding and projects related to the Mosquitia in order to identify areas of overlap, synergy and coordination. Donors included the Central American Integrated Economics Bank / CAMBio Project, TNC, UNDP, UNDP/ Millennium Challenge Observatory, USAID Honduras, USAID DC, WWF, and OSPESCA Results included: 1) The creation of a summary matrix of donor activities, 2) Focusing projects on alternative livelihoods that support the environmental Chapter 17 of the CAFTA agreement, and 3) Providing technical assistance for alternative livelihoods that are environmentally sustainable and economically viable.
Supporting stakeholders to implement their commitment: The fact that stakeholders continued to keep their commitments to action in spite of the difficult political and social situation and without any Initiative funding indicates that the SCALE process generates enough cross-sectoral local ownership, empowerment and commitment to not only bring the necessary people to a WSR workshop, but to continue working together in new ways and take the collaborative actions needed to have an impact at scale. Examples of stakeholders keeping their commitments include:
- The Roatan Marine Park NGO is coordinating collaboration with DIGEPESCA, the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), TNC, WWF, the Honduras Tourism Institute, the Honduras Hotel Association and the Spiny Lobster Initiative to develop a Responsible Restaurants Campaign. The objective of the campaign is to decrease consumption of several pressured species including grouper, conch, hawksbill turtle, parrotfish and under-sized lobster. Local restaurants that join the campaign will go through a membership process that includes training and monitoring. In exchange, they will be able to be able to post the Responsible Restaurant Campaign logo and be included in advertising and other promotional activities as restaurants that are environmentally responsible. A Seafood Guide booklet and other materials will educate restaurants and consumers about food sourcing and the importance of not consuming these species.
- The Working Group was concerned that the Roatan private sector was not well represented at the WSR. They initiated a meeting in Roatan in December to discuss how this important stakeholder group could become more involved. The meeting resulted in a major Roatan private sector opinion leader joining the Working Group (and asking that his logo be included on Initiative materials), a follow-up meeting of the private sector in La Ceiba and the initiation of the idea of having a Spiny Lobster Symposium to discuss and share marketing strategies and BMPs.
- The Mosquitia Divers Active Association (APGADH), the Industry Caribbean Fishery Association, (APICA) asked Initiative staff to facilitate a series of meetings to identify best practices for divers and boat owners for this last 2010 season. Compensation, insurance, boat policies, and divers' contracts were some of the agenda items.
From June 3-5, 2009, 55 participants from the government, private, civil society, and environmental sectors connected to the Honduras spiny lobster value chain came together for a Whole-System-in-the-Room workshop. The objectives for the "Working Together For the Sustainable, Safe, And Profitable Utilization of the Spiny Lobster in Honduras" were to 1) create a space for reflection and analysis among the principal actors involved in the area of lobster fishing in Honduras, 2) strengthen the existing communication networks, identify synergies and promote new alliances, 3) create new strategies and identify future areas for action, and 4) make commitments for concrete actions towards reaching common short, medium and long term goals.
Using the Future Search methodology, participants looked at the past, present, and future of the spiny lobster fishery. By the end of the three days, eleven common ground goals were identified:
- Expansion of the market
- Integrated development in the Mosquitia
- Integrated intra-sectoral work
- A well regulated and ordered Lobster fishery
- Certification of the lobster fishery
- Management of the spiny lobster based on interdisciplinary investigation
- A sustainable and profitable lobster industry (best practices)
- Increased awareness and education.
- Compliance with the regulatory framework
- Conservation and protection of the marine resources through management tools.
- Regional and bi-national integration.
Each stakeholder group identified potential projects and specific action plans for what they will do to support the spiny lobster fishery. For a full report of the WSR, please click here.
After the WSR, the initiative Communications and Networking Facilitator followed up with the participants to confirm their commitment to the Initiative and share information about what actions each group had taken since the WSR. A monthly Spiny Lobster Initiative newsletter was created and distributed to all WSR participants. The Honduras Facilitator also conducted an analysis of the main stakeholders to see what they needed to further their action plans.