Target: Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
Goal: Prevent destruction of coastal ecosystem by enforcing sustainable fishing procedures
Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer, is under pressure from environmentalists and locals alike to actually enforce protective legislation which has already been passed. Passing environmental protection laws and not enforcing them is akin to not passing the laws at all. The government of Antigua and Barbuda must give the Fisheries Department the needed power to ensure sustainable fishing practices are employed.
The particular legislation, the Fisheries Act, would include much needed “closed seasons” for marine animals such as lobster and conch. It would also require licensing of fishermen and specify permitted types of fishing gear. However, the passing of the Fisheries Act did not coincide with approval of the necessary regulations and those regulations have now been perpetually treading water for six years, stuck in the doldrums of governmental bureaucracy. Without regulations, little to no enforcement is possible for local and national fishery officers.
As a result of this gaping lack of enforcement power, extensive over-fishing and use of fishing techniques like “gill netting” continue to devastate the coastal habitats, including legally established Marine Protected Areas. Gill netting is especially damaging as the nets capture endangered sea turtles and other species which are not the desired targets of fishing expeditions.
In addition, the absence of enforced regulation has been utilized by Chinese fishing outfits who exploit the local fishermen with enticing prices and a demand for increased output. As they revel in their fresh exports, the populations of fish, other marine species, and the vitality of coral reefs decrease at an alarmingly quickening rate.
The fishing industry is an integral aspect of Antigua and Barbuda’s economy. According to the Antigua Conservation Society, the lobster fishing industry could collapse completely if current trends are not addressed immediately. While fishing exports remain an import aspect of economic strength for the region, if it is not done in a sustainable manner, the marine ecosystem will suffer profound destructive consequences and the local and national economy may not ever recover.
Sign this petition and demand swift, but thorough, action to approve regulations of fisheries enforcement in Antigua and Barbuda.
Dear Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer,
As the leader of an island nation, you have a deeply important obligation to enforce protection of the richly diverse marine ecosystems that surround you. Much of the economy relies on fishing exports, as you well know, thus it is extremely important that fisheries regulations are put in place to stop unsustainable fishing practices.
In 2006, the government of Antigua and Barbuda passed the Fisheries Act. For six years now, no regulations have been approved that allow the Fishery Department to enforce this legislation. As a result, the lobster industry is close to collapsing, coral reefs are experiencing rapid decline and foreign interests are exploiting local fishermen.
The fragile coastal ecosystem cannot support such blind reaping of resources. Sustainable, regulated fishing measures are urgently needed before the marine devastation becomes irrevocably permanent, and your economy suffers a possibly equally permanent blow. Please put regulations in place that allow enforcement of fishing procedures so that these harsh possibilities do not become a depressing reality.
[Your Name Here]