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Spiny Lobster Initiative

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The Spiny Lobster Initiative, working with Caribbean coastal communities of Honduras and Nicaragua, is the Global FISH Alliance's first targeted effort. By connecting stakeholders from fishers, divers, and trappers, to inspectors, processers, and importers, the alliance aims to foster open dialogue on common goals and collaborative actions to create system-wide change that will sustain the spiny lobster population.

Throughout the Caribbean, high demand has led to over fishing and destructive practices. Lobster stocks are reported to be down by at least 35 percent over the last several years. Fishers have had to travel farther and fish in deeper waters, and fishing in deeper waters means more commercial diving for lobsters, threatening both the lobster population and the divers themselves. Hundreds of young men have suffered permanent injury due to unsafe diving practices. And now a worldwide economic crisis has driven down the price of lobster to lower than the cost of production.

In both Honduras and Nicaragua, stakeholders demonstrate the energy and commitment to pull together and commit to changes that will help sustain the fishery. Working groups, formed in each country, planned Whole-System-in-the-Room (WSR) meetings to bring together those most invested in and concerned with the spiny lobster population. Both the Honduras and Nicaragua WSR workshops, held in June and September 2009, were a huge success. Each brought together nearly 80 people, respectively, to develop plans for action and network with each other, establishing meaningful connections based on empathy and understanding.

One of the largest buyers of Spiny Lobster is Darden Restaurants, who is committed to sustainable sourcing. Their alliance with USAID for the Spiny Lobster Initiative helps to focus the region’s attention on the need to protect the stability of ecosystems and the economy and the way of life of the coastal communities of Nicaragua and Honduras. As a major private sector stakeholder in the spiny lobster fishery value chain, Darden’s participation in discussions with other members of the system is key to collaborative action and the ultimate goal of improving sustainable fishery management, securing fisheries livelihoods, and conserving aquatic biodiversity.

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