Slow Fish Caribe: the EU financed project on sustainable management models in protected areas comes to an end, supporting two Slow Food Presidia and the strengthening of local communities

The project Slow Fish Caribe: fortaleciendo modelos de conservación y aprovechamiento sustentable en áreas protegidas en el Caribe vinculadas a Slow Food (“strengthening conservation models and sustainable resource use in protected areas of the Caribbean linked to Slow Food”) is coming to an end. 

Based on the promotion of marine-coastal resources and the different cultures that depend on them, the project’s activities allowed for a diversification of production, restored value to the area’s symbolic products, strengthened production processes linked to artisanal fishing, and supported of the transformation and commercialisation of traditional gastronomyincluding the Black Crab of Providencia and the Spiny Lobster of Banco Chinchorro and Sian Ka’an, both of which are now Slow Food Presidia. 

slow fish caribe
CrabCayProvidencia. Photo by Juan David Cortés Hernández

The forum

The results of the project were presented on March 24, at the forum Slow Fish Caribe: sustainable management models in protected areas, part of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, where the focus will be on the lessons learned and the reflections of the project’s protagonists. During the forum, several speakers intervened: Matilde Ceravolo –  Deputy Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation in ColombiaLiliana Vargas – Slow Fish Caribe project coordinator for Colombia, Paula Barbeito – International coordinator of the Slow Fish networkMartin Quintero – Chef at Caribbean Place, Providencia (Colombia), Doris Bernard – representative of ASOCRAB, Providencia (Colombia) Marcela Ampudia – spokesperson of the Fi’wi Old Providence and Ketlina Slow Food Community (Colombia)José Angel Canto Noh – S.C.P.P. Cozumel President, María Elena, Sian Ka´an (Mexico). 

To see the forum, click here

The project

The project aimed to restore value to traditional knowledge and strengthen local management and use of marine-coastal natural resourcesas well as to diversify local production activities; to increase the economic and social well-being of local communities, promote the sustainable management of marine-coastal biodiversity through the responsible use of local resources, and to spread the good practices and results of the project across the Caribbean region through the Slow Fish Caribe network. 

Among the activities supported by this project, we are particularly proud of the lobster traceability system developed by the Cozumel Fishing Cooperative Society in Sian Ka’an (Mexico),” explains Paula Barbeito, Slow Fish coordinator at Slow Food. “By photographing the QR code lobsters are labelled with, consumers can meet the fishermen and find out the day and the fishing area, the biological data and much more.”

A lo largo de la costa caribeña de Quintana Roo se encuentran las reservas de la biosfera de Sian Ka’an y Banco Chinchorro. La langosta espinosa del Caribe (Panulirus argus) se llama chakay en la lengua Maya. Photo by Colectividad Razonatura A.C.

“For Amigos de Sian Ka’anparticipating in this project was a valuable opportunity to continue promoting sustainable fishing practices for Caribbean lobster, including criteria to evaluate the health of the marine ecosystems and improve the knowledge of local fishermen. Now cooperatives know more about the lobster market in the world, they’ve discovered tools to implement marketing strategies and excellent opportunities for their growth” added Liliana García Ramírez, Program Director at Amigos de Sian Ka’an. 

Besides fishing activities to reduce the pressure on natural resources such as the Providencia Black Crab and the Spiny Lobster in Mexico, the project has promoted alternative activities that generate revenue for the communities such as the strengthening of agricultural production to promote food security, tourism and strategies to enhance the value of the lionfish, an invasive species that has expanded rapidly throughout the reef ecosystems of the Caribbean. 

This project has been of great significance since it has allowed the international recognition of the Black Crab as a bastion of the Raizal culture and the social appropriation of the control of invasive species like the lionfish in the archipelago,” added Gilberto Myles, Deputy Director at Mares y Costas, Corporación CORALINA. 

Promoting locally– and internationally-sustainable practices and the good management of Natural Protected Areas, with the tools that were designed in the process and in the meeting modalities, has been very enriching for all participants,” commented Kim Ley-Cooper, Director at Colectividad Razonatura. 

slow fish caribe
Photo by Koltyo Lab

Furthermoreinitiatives have been developed to promote sustainable and responsible consumption
that prioritize the enhancement of symbolic food products in the areas where the project was active. 

We have experienced this project as a sum of efforts, just as capture, fishing, agriculture, handicrafts and tourism complement each other to guarantee a self-sustainable economic dynamic, the institutions have had to support each other to guarantee the good results achieved,” declared David Soto, Director at Fundación Activos Culturales Afro (ACUA). 

“The Slow Fish Caribe project was able to outline clear and concrete ways to protect the unique hydrobiological resources that exist in the Greater Caribbean, particularly in the archipelago of San Andres and Providencia under the Sea Flower Biosphere Reserve. However, the road ahead is complex and full of challenges. The health pandemic and then the harsh onslaught of Hurricane Iota have shown us that although the path is clear, it  is necessary to redouble our efforts to achieve long-term solutions to the challenges posed by climate changewhile improving the living conditions of communities and strengthening the capacity for action of local authorities. The European Union under the Green Deal will continue to support and strengthen such initiatives, for the people and for the planet,” said Matilde Ceravolo, Deputy Head of Cooperation at the European Delegation in Colombia. 

Launched in 2017, the project has seen Slow Food and its partners working on the Mexican coast of Quintana Roo and on the Colombian Caribbean coast in the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina. The project was financed by the European Union as part of the “EU Biodiversity for Life” initiative and was implemented by Slow Food in partnership with Fundación Activos Culturales Afro (ACUA), the Corporation for the Sustainable Development of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina (CORALINA), Colectividad Razonatura A.C. and the Amigos de Sian Ka’an organization, in cooperation with other partners in the Caribbean. 

This article is published in the framework of Slow Fish Caribe project with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Slow Food and can in no way be taken to reflect the position of the European Union. 

For more information on the Slow Fish Caribe project and to view audiovisual materials and documents produced within the framework of the project, please visit the website.