Reef and Fishery Assessment of Navassa Island National Wildlife Refuge

On April 23, 2009 scientists from the NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami Florida (SEFSC) departed from San Juan, Puerto Rico aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. Their destination: the Navassa National Wildlife Refuge. Along with the NOAA scientists are researchers from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM/RSMAS), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Director of the Fondation pour la Protection de la Biodiversité Marine (FoProBiM), an NGO based in Haiti.
This work is funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Research on Navassa Artisanal Fishers

Having previously visited Navassa six times with both NOAA and FWS I am here this time (yes, again!) to work with the scientific team in general, but, specifically with the Haitian fishers.
Due to extremely poor economic conditions combined with unregulated and unsustainable exploitation of marine resources back in Haiti which have caused the overexploitation of resources, the fishers often find it worth the hazardous crossing (35+ miles!). Under sail in their tiny 12’-15’ handmade wooden boats, usually without a motor, the crossing, which can take two or more days is extremely dangerous and there have been several occasions when boats have not made it home, with the loss of the 4-6 man crew.
My primary role on the cruises/expeditions it to talk to the fishers present at Navassa and to determine what type of activities they are engaging in including: where the fishers are coming from, what types of gear they are using, what they are catching, how long they stay, how many come, etc. Over the many trips to Navassa, as well as work FoProBiM has undertaken back at the home fishing villages of the Navassa fishers, we have developed quite a bit of trust with these fishers and they have generally been willing to cooperate in this research.
Along with the above activities undertaken at Navassa back in Haiti FoProBiM is undertaking resource use conflict resolution, association building, and environmental education classes, as well as trying to determine what can be done to develop sustainable fisheries and/or alternative income generating activities so the fishers will no longer need to take the dangerous voyage to Navassa. --Jean Wiener

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