Fishing for Resilience

April 20, 2023

The sky is a deep blue, almost black, still twinkling with stars. And while most of the world still sleeps, long before the rising sun, Whitebait fishers are headed to the shore. In the quiet waters of the pre-dawn awaits their livelihood – a tiny fish that serves a nation. But, this idyllic scene is not saved from the ravages of a changing climate. Fisherfolk fall headfirst into the category of vulnerable communities - plagued by changing weather patterns, increased disasters and irregular catches. The Tri Tri Fishers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who depend on this little fish for their livelihoods and are seeking ways to navigate the uncertain climate as they adapt and bolster their resilience to ensure that they can support themselves and their families; but they need help. 

And the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Enabling Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER) Project has answered the call. With support from the Government of Canada and the United Kingdom, EnGenDER launched its Climate Smart Fisheries Project which is supporting the fishing community by providing supplies such as freezers, raincoats, buckets, saron, tarpaulins, submersible lights, ice boxes and water boots to boost their fishing capacity, quality of catch and support the various stages of operation from harvesting to processing and storage. These efforts will help improve the value chain and improve livelihoods. But in addition to this, the project is also promoting collaboration and the sharing of knowledge! The collective knowledge gained by these communities over generations was “exchanged” with their Caribbean neighbours in Dominica through a UNDP-led Knowledge and Experience Exchange between the two communities. One of the beneficiaries from this project is Rayanna Burke who was fishing from the time she was 10 years old with her great-grandmother and stated, “Everything I learned from this program, I’m going to use it for myself, my family and the generation to come and I’m very grateful.”

These little fish and the communities that make a living from them, are vital to the Vincentian and Dominican culture and essential to supporting coastal communities. With an influx of funding for equipment (which will reduce wastage, and make fishing more efficient) as well as learning from one another to find best practices, the sun will be sure to rise on flourishing communities of Whitebait fishers.