Santa Marta, Colombia – On November 4, 2012 The Billfish Foundation (TBF) and the Secretariat of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) collaborated to put on an ‘Expert Workshop on the Assessment of Socio-Economic Impacts of Recreational Fishing – the Caribbean, a Beginning’ in conjunction with the 65th annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) held from November 5-9, 2012.

The expert workshop was attended by 29 experts from countries and territories including Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique, the Caribbean Netherlands, Barbados, and the United States.

The purpose of the workshop was to 1) review and finalize a manual that can be utilized to evaluate the socio-economic impacts of recreational fisheries in the wider Caribbean region and 2) create awareness and build capacity for socio-economic assessments of recreational fisheries. Members of the workshop worked with Rob Southwick and Brad Getner in development of the manual which will provide the foundation of a framework for establishing the baseline for the socio-economic impacts of recreational fishing throughout the Caribbean.

Ellen Peel, President of TBF stated that “establishing a manual is just the first step in a process of assisting governments, businesses and citizens of the wider Caribbean to become aware of the strong economic benefits that flow from the billfishing and other recreational fishing tourists within the region.”

The final draft of the manual will be tested in three countries throughout the Caribbean and upon completion, the countries will provide feedback about the functionality and effectiveness of the manual produced in conjunction with this workshop.Following the testing period, the manual will be translated into French and Spanish and distributed for use throughout the Caribbean.

Additional partners of the workshop included the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI), CFMC, CRFM, IGFA, and OPESCA.