A number of compelling elements defined the recent 7th Annual Meeting of the CARICOM-US Trade and Investment Council, held last month. One such element involved the subject of lawsuits. A current lawsuit threat coming from U.S.-based Non-Government Organization NGOs regarding the harvesting of queen conch for trade proved to be a driving force to this argument.
Antigua and Barbuda is a member of CARICOM, which is said to be highly concerned about this lawsuit threat. Not only is CARICOM concerned about the short-term implications of this lawsuit, but they are also highly concerned as to the long-term implications of the potential ruling, as well.
As you can imagine, there are several elements to the ongoing threat that are worth understanding in more elaborate detail.
CARICOM And The Lawsuit
At the moment, the region currently derives a great deal of money from exporting conch meat to the United States. At the moment, it is believed that the region exports approximately one hundred and eighty-five million dollars in conch meat to the U.S. This would certainly suggest a keen interest in anything that might damage that figure, or even eradicate that figure altogether.
It was in February of 2016 that WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals made it clear to officials that they were planning to bring a range of sizable lawsuits against a range of interests. This list would include the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and all of their officers and directors. This makes for an impressive list. It certainly makes sense as to why all of these organizations and groups would be on the target list from the WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals.
It is the belief of the WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals that all of these groups and individuals should be held responsible for not taking the state of the conch seriously. In particular, the environmental organization is upset at all of those groups failing to list the queen conch as threatened or endangered.
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (which is also known as the CRFM) does not believe that there is any justification to the petition whatever. They are of the opinion that the petition is based upon information that is not only outdated, but is also extremely incorrect, as well. There is an opinion that listing the species as endangered would end with a complete ban. On the other hand, listing it as threatened could lead to such as changes as stricter regulations concerning exports, and much more.
What does this mean for the future? Will the decision, should anything actually come of all this information, set a precedent that will be difficult to shake? This remains to be seen. However, it is worth keeping in mind the success rate of the NGO against the U.S. government, in regards to lawsuits.
Analyzing The Future
In regards to the lawsuit, it is worth keeping in mind that the NGO has a success rate of seventy-seven percent. This is definitely a profound, unshakable element to this larger story. As you can perhaps imagine, there are several more elements to this story to regard.
The long-term implications of the lawsuit could be devastating. Beyond the fact that this decision could cause serious damage to that one hundred and eighty-five million-per year figure that was mentioned before. At the same time, a decision could also cause problems for a variety of local economies. The sum total of these local economies could arrive at a figure in the range of three billion dollars. Nonetheless, the United States continues to asset what it perceives to be a logical extension of its authority. They have made it clear that they are going to maintain their position on the current state of the queen conch.
In the meantime, you can be certain the CARICOM states are going to continue to study this situation in the closest detail possible.
The recent meeting with Washington revealed some interesting subjects, to be sure. The subject of IUU fishing was discussed in elaborate detail, with the potential impact of these practices on the region being a particularly hot button issue. Naturally, it is the concern of CARICOM that IUU measures could negatively impact their export interests, amongst other things.