Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD, said the project represents conversion of efforts to advance SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), and to support recovery from COVID-19.
Among other issues, participants addressed queen conch harvesting methods and management practices, and anticipated project benefits, such as ensuring that conch fisheries are robust and harvest is sustainable, and that small-scale coastal produces are empowered to produce and trade domestically and internationally.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have launched a project, which aims to empower small-scale coastal producers in Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to produce and trade queen conch (Strombus gigas) products in domestic, regional, and international markets.
The project was launched on 7 October, during a webinar on the theme, ‘Seizing the Trade and Business Potential of Blue BioTrade in Selected Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Countries.’
Jaqueline Flood, Director, Economic Affairs and Regional Integration, OECS, moderated the discussion.
Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD, Didacus Jules, Director General, OECS, and Ivonne Higuero, Secretary-General, CITES Secretariat, offered opening remarks.
Durant said the project represents conversion of efforts to advance SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), and to support recovery from COVID-19. She noted that Blue BioTrade provides opportunities for sustainable development across value chains, and can help lessen negative impacts on marine ecosystems. Highlighting that the global queen conch market reached an estimated USD 74 million in 2017, Durant explained that the species is listed in CITES Annex II due to early uncontrolled harvesting.
Jules described queen conch’s food and non-food uses, and outlined its links to Caribbean culture. To enhance conch conservation and management, he stressed the need to assess and monitor harvesting, control trade, improve traceability, and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Higuero noted that the first Global Biodiversity Summit highlighted marine species as an area of concern, and mentioned CITES recommendations for the sustainable, traceable, and legal trade in queen conch, and Conference of the Parties (COP) decisions on the species’ management and utilization.
In a statement, Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, highlighted the importance of balancing production against conservation.
Via recorded message, Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica and OECS Chairman, said the project can become the blueprint for sustainable management of value chains while meeting SDGs 14 and 12.
Stephen Fevrier, OECS, noted that the project has been validated by external agencies, and the methodology and approach have been tested. He said it is as much about sustainability as it is about resilience building and responses to environmental impacts.
David Vivas Eugui, UNCTAD, defined Blue BioTrade as the collection, production, transformation, and commercialization of goods and services derived from native biodiversity, in a way that is environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.
Lorena Jaramillo, UNCTAD, noted BioTrade’s alignment with the SDGs, UNCTAD mandate, and multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) such as CITES and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). She highlighted seven principles of BioTrade: conservation, sustainable use, equitable benefit-sharing, socioeconomic sustainability, legal compliance, respect for actors’ rights, and clarity on the right to use and access resources.
Government representatives from the three beneficiary countries addressed, among other issues:
- Queen conch harvesting methods, its ecological importance, and economic value across the value chain;
- Queen conch management practices, measures, and regulations;
- Anticipated project benefits, such as ensuring that conch fisheries are robust and harvest is sustainable, and that small-scale coastal produces are empowered to produce and trade domestically and internationally; and
- Difficulties in implementing market strategies.
In ensuing discussion, participants highlighted, among other issues, potential uses of queen conch blue blood for biotechnology, and determining a baseline to measure sustainability and ensure success of interventions.
The 18-month project is funded by OECS, with support from the EU. [Project Launch and Webinar Webpage] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]