The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) was officially inaugurated on 27 March 2003, in Belize City, Belize, where it is headquartered, following the signing of the “Agreement Establishing the CRFM” on February 4, 2002. It is an inter-governmental organization with its mission being to “To promote and facilitate the responsible utilization of the region's fisheries and other aquatic resources for the economic and social benefits of the current and future population of the region”. The CRFM consist of three bodies – the Ministerial Council; the Caribbean Fisheries Forum; and the CRFM Secretariat. Its members are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Ministerial Council
The Ministerial Council is the highest decision making body of the CRFM, and is responsible for formulating the policy of the Mechanism. It is comprised of the Ministers responsible for Fisheries in each Member State. Among other things, the Ministerial Council is responsible for:
- receiving and considering policy proposals from the Forum;
- promoting the efficient management, conservation and development of shared, straddling and highly migratory marine and other aquatic resources of the Caribbean Region through attainment of competence over the resources and through co-operation with the relevant competent organizations;
- promoting and facilitating human resource training and development in the fisheries sub-sector at the professional, technical and vocational levels in Member States;
- promoting and supporting programmes designed to establish, facilitate and strengthen fisheries research, including the acquisition and sharing of relevant data in Member States;
- promoting and encouraging technical co-operation in the fisheries sub-sector, including technology transfer, information exchange and networking among States of the Caribbean Region and beyond;
- supporting efforts aimed at ensuring safe, healthy and fair working and living conditions for fishers and fish workers; and
- submitting annual reports to the Council for Trade and economic Development (COTED) and the council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).
The Caribbean Fisheries Forum
The Forum is made up of one representative from each Member; each Associate Member and each Observer. The CRFM Secretariat will be the secretariat of the Forum. The Forum, among others, is responsible for:
- recommending for approval by the Ministerial Council, arrangements for sustainable fisheries management and development in Member States based upon the best available technical and scientific data and information;
- reviewing the arrangements recommended by the Technical Unit for sustainable fisheries management and development in Member States;
- promoting the protection and rehabilitation of fisheries habitats and the environment generally;
- encouraging the establishment of effective mechanism for monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries exploitation;
- encouraging the use of post-harvest practices in the fisheries sub-sector that maintain the nutritional value and quality of products;
- recommending for approval by the Ministerial Council, co-operative and other arrangements relating to fisheries; and
- receiving and examining the draft Work Plan and Budget of the Mechanism and submitting recommendations thereon to the Ministerial Council.
The Technical Unit (Secretariat)
The Unit comprises a permanent body of technical, scientific and support staff. The staff is located at two offices: one in Belize, the headquarters of the CRFM; the other in the eastern Caribbean. The Secretariat is responsible for, among other things:
- providing technical, consultative and advisory services to Member States in the development, assessment, management and conservation of marine and other aquatic resources and, on request, in the discharge of any obligations arising from bilateral and other international instruments;
- collaborating with national fisheries authorities;
- collecting and providing relevant data on fisheries resources, including sharing, pooling and information exchange;
- promoting the conduct of trade in fish and fish products according to applicable agreements;
- supporting and enhancing the institutional capacity of Member States in fisheries’ areas such as: policy formulation; economics and planning; registration and licensing systems; information management; resource monitoring, assessment and management; education and awareness building; harvest and post-harvest technologies;
- implementing the Work Programme recommended by the Forum and approved by the Ministerial Council;
- seeking and mobilizing financial and other resources in support of the functions of the Mechanism;
- establishing, in consultation with the Member States, and where appropriate and approved by the Ministerial Council, a network of relationships comprising non-CARICOM States as well as CARICOM and non-CARICOM organizations, bodies and institutions whose work and interest coincide with that of the Mechanism;
- encouraging, supporting and, as appropriate, providing effective regional representation at relevant international fora;
- serving as the Secretariat to the Ministerial Council and the Forum, and as the central coordinating body for the Mechanism; and
- addressing urgent or ad hoc requests outside of the regular work program presented by Member governments.