A street scene in Cuba. Photograph from Shutterstock.

EDF: Cuba’s new fisheries law is first major policy shift in 23 years

Cuba enacted new fisheries legislation over the weekend that represents its first national change since 1996 and a major shift in current fisheries policy, helping to ensure coordinated management of marine resources between Cuba and other countries in the region, including the United States, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) reports.

The new law includes provisions to curtail illegal fishing, recover species populations, track the health of dozens of important finfish, shark and ray species, and protect small-scale fishers in coastal communities, while expanding the use of data-limited methods.

A key feature of the law will be a new licensing and management framework for the commercial fishing industry, which took root in 2009 and now counts 18,000 private harvesters operating out of 160 ports. It also includes a process for updating rules and licensing systems for the emerging recreational fishing sector.

The proposed changes were first presented by the Ministry of Food Industry (MINAL) in March after the Agrifood and Constitutional and Legal Affairs Commissions of the Cuban Parliament jointly consulted some 462 government officials and 863 guests, according to Prensa Latina, the state media agency.

Cuba already protects about 25% of its coastal waters, however, declining commercial fish populations, including several species of grouper and snapper, have been a serious problem, EDF said.

The reforms put Cuba "on a course to increase protection for some of the world’s most important and vibrant marine ecosystems while also ensuring a future for its fishers", EDF said.

See Undercurrent News article . . .