Belize City, Tuesday, 5 October 2021 (CRFM)—The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) held its Eleventh Special Meeting on Monday, 4 October 2021, and approved three resolutions which together chart a strategic and robust direction for the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector. The vision, which looks ahead to the year 2030, is for the effective management, conservation and sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources, to maximize social and economic benefits, such as food and nutrition security, and jobs in the CRFM Member States.
During the Eleventh Special Meeting, the Ministerial Council approved, by way of resolution, the Third CRFM Strategic Plan, 2022 – 2030. The Council directed the Caribbean Fisheries Forum (comprised of the Chief Fisheries Officers and Heads of Fisheries Departments in the 17 Member States), as well as the CRFM Secretariat and other partners to take appropriate action to develop and implement the programmes, plans and projects considered necessary to achieve the goals and objectives articulated in the Third CRFM Strategic Plan. The CRFM will collaborate closely with other stakeholders, regional and international development partners, and donors in implementing the CRFM Strategic Plan, which was prepared using a shorter, simpler, visually appealing, and illustrative format which is more user-friendly and suitable for wider dissemination to stakeholders and development partners.
Furthermore, the Ministers underscored the need for the CRFM and its Member States to significantly enhance the mobilization of financial and technical resources to support accelerated blue economic growth, particularly in respect of the living marine resources and sustainable aquaculture in the CARICOM Region. In this regard, the Ministerial Council also approved the CRFM Resource Mobilization Strategy, to also span 2022 to 2030.
The Ministers stressed the importance of giving high priority to mobilizing the financial and other resources required to implement the approved regional and national policies, and the Strategic Plan for the period 2022 to 2030, to improve food security, livelihoods, and economic and social resilience—especially considering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change on the food systems and economies of Member States.
The Council agreed that both the CRFM Strategic Plan and the Resource Mobilization Strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly over the 9-year period, to ensure that they remain relevant and responsive to the changing needs and realities in the Member States.
Finally, the Ministers approved a White Paper to guide the further development and approval of the Model Fisheries Legislation for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures for the CARICOM Region. The White Paper sets out the Council’s proposals and policy position concerning the CARICOM Model SPS Fisheries legislation.
The legislation is comprised of the Draft Model Aquatic Animal Health Bill and the Draft Model Aquatic Food Safety Regulations, which are being developed with funding from the European Union. They are aimed at assuring safety and quality of fish and seafood available for domestic as well as export markets, in line with international standards, while improving the income of fishers and maximizing economic gains for the sector.
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The task to develop the Third CRFM Strategic Plan started in 2020 with an independent performance review of the CRFM. The review process was facilitated by extensive consultation and participation by Member States, development partners and stakeholders at all levels in the region. Interviews with key stakeholders were done both in-person and virtually, in collaboration with the CRFM Secretariat.
The target groups were Chief Fisheries Officers, Directors of Fisheries or Fisheries Administrator from the CRFM countries, Ministers and Permanent Secretaries / Chief Executive Officer of the respective countries, CRFM staff, fisherfolks, fishing enterprises, processors, exporters, research and academic institutions, NGOs, from CRFM countries and representatives from CRFM partner institutions.
Also, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum held four Special Meetings and the CRFM Ministerial held one Special Meetings specifically to provide oversight and guidance for the review process and preparation of the Strategic Plan. These official and informal engagements provided invaluable inputs and guidance that contributed to the elaboration and validation of the Third CRFM Strategic Plan.
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BELIZE CITY, 4 MARCH 2020 (CRFM)—A new US$46 million initiative to promote Blue Economic priorities in the Caribbean, in support of the sustainable use and conservation of the region’s vast and diverse marine ecosystems and resources, gets underway with a two-day inception workshop on 5-6 March at the Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City.
Marine ecosystems account for over 80 percent of CARICOM States and territories, supporting not just fisheries, but also tourism, ocean transportation, energy, and other economic pillars. They are also critical to the sustainable livelihoods of coastal communities and food security for markets even beyond their borders. Despite threats that confront the region—not the least of which are climate change, ocean acidification, marine pollution and irresponsible fishing—the Blue Economy model still holds great promise.
The current initiative, entitled “Blue Economy (BE): Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus (CLME+): Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus,” is a 4-year project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with a grant of US$6.2 million and co-financing of US$40.1 million. The Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) will be the lead implementing agency while FAO will be a co-implementing agency. The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will be the project executing agency. The GEF-funded “BE-CLME+ Project” will promote blue economy development in the Caribbean region through marine spatial planning and marine protected areas, the ecosystem approach to fisheries, and development of sustainable fisheries value chains.
The expected results of the project include focused climate-smart investments into national and regional marine spatial planning (MSP) efforts that inform development and implementation of national blue economy strategies. The multi-country project will also focus on extending or strengthening marine protected areas to preserve marine ecosystems and ensure sustainable livelihoods to coastal and fishery communities. The project is also expected to result in the establishment of a regional MSP for ecosystem-based fisheries, inclusive sustainable fisheries value chains, and new or expanded marine protected areas in at least five Caribbean countries. It will also support improvements in knowledge management, monitoring and evaluation, based upon knowledge and experiences from the project and experiences with climate-resilient blue economies from other regions and other Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters projects, in partnership with IW: LEARN (the GEF’s International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network).
The Inception Workshop, to be held on 5-6 March, will be attended by representatives of the six participating countries: Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama and Saint Lucia, as well as partner agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Development Bank of Latin America, SICA/OSPESCA, UWI-CERMES, JICA, UNDP-GEF CLME+ Project and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation (CNFO). Officials from the CRFM, CAF, FAO/WECAFC and the Belize Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development will address participants at the opening ceremony, to be convened at 9:00 a.m. on 5 March.
It is expected that at the conclusion of the workshop, the participating States and partners will have agreed on the main activities, milestones and timeline to develop the detailed project document and workplan for submission to the GEF for consideration by November 2020.
Belize City, Belize, Monday, 21 November 2016 (CRFM)—The coming of the digital age presents novel opportunities for the fisheries and aquaculture sector of the wider Caribbean to build a more robust data and information system that would augment the monitoring of production trends and traceability of catches, support more sustainable management regimes through increased people engagement, and facilitate stronger international and regional trade.
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are teaming up to capitalize on opportunities for Member States to strengthen data collection and management systems through the use of modern technology, such as smartphones and wireless communications to bridge gaps in the system.
“Strengthening our fisheries data and information management systems is extremely important going forward. It is necessary in order to improve resource conservation and management and also improve the socio-economic benefits from the fisheries. It will help in improving income and revenue from the fisheries and strengthen the countries’ capacity to participate in international trade,” said CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton.
Haughton said that “…our decisions really need to be based on good knowledge of the resource systems—both in terms of the state of the targeted fish stocks and the marine environment, as well as the activities on land after the fish is taken; that is, activities in the processing and marketing sectors. We really need to have accurate data and information to understand what is happening and to make informed decisions about what is happening in the sector.” Unless traceability is established through enhanced data and information systems, it will become increasingly hard for countries in our region to trade internationally, he said.
Haughton highlighted these challenges in his recent discussions with Marc Taconet, Chief of the Statistics and Information Branch of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Economics Division at the FAO in Rome.
Taconet was on a working visit at the headquarters of the CRFM in Belize City, Belize, last week. He and Haughton talked about strengthening CRFM-FAO cooperation, and they collaborated on a concept note for cooperation in improving data and information systems across CRFM Member States for fisheries and aquaculture. A planning meeting is tentatively slated for February/March 2017.
“There are innovative technologies such as the use of mobile phones, tablets, and remote inputs; and the co-involvement of fish workers is necessary to be set up. This is one of the needs that were strongly expressed,” said Taconet, in speaking of wider discussions with fisheries experts from the Caribbean.
He said that one gap is the lack of an integrated software system—an issue that was raised when he paid a courtesy call on counterparts of the Belize Fisheries Department, located on the same premises as the CRFM.
According to Taconet, the timeline to reach ‘cruise speed,’ with an upgraded data and information system is two to three years.
The CRFM and the FAO are currently sourcing funds to undertake this new joint initiative, which furthers a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed this January between the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)/Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (FAO-WECAFC), the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, and the Organisation of the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector (OSPESCA), in Cartagena, Colombia, to facilitate, support and strengthen the coordination of actions to increase the sustainability of fisheries.
Belize City, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 (CRFM)--Fisheries experts from across the Caribbean region are traveling to Guyana this week for the 14th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum -- the primary technical deliberative body of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). The Forum will be meeting in Georgetown on Thursday, 7 April and Friday, 8 April to undertake its annual stocktaking and planning for the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
The event will bring together more than 50 participants, including directors of fisheries, chief fisheries officers, and other development partners, such as NGOs and international organizations like the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which work with the CRFM in promoting the development, management and conservation of the Caribbean’s fisheries resources.
Justin Rennie, Chief Fisheries Officer of Grenada, will demit chairmanship of the Forum to Denzil Roberts, Chief Fisheries Officer of Guyana, for the 12-month period spanning the new program year which commenced on 1 April. A new vice chairman will also be selected.
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, highlighted the most pressing issues on the agenda: “We’re discussing a lot of emerging issues in the region. We are looking at how to improve conservation and management of key species, apply and use the value chain approach in order to increase benefits, such as increased income and export potential. We are discussing sanitary and phytosanitary capacity as a part of our overall strategy to strengthen our trade capacity, so that we can indeed export more to key international markets and also to provide greater quality and safety in terms of the fish and seafood that we provide for our people as well as our guests and tourists coming into the region.”
Haughton added that the 17 CRFM Member States are also looking at ways to strengthen the linkage between fisheries and tourism, “because the tourism sector is a huge sector and we believe we have a golden opportunity to enhance the linkages between fisheries and tourism to derive more benefits—more income, more employment opportunities—for our fishers and their communities.”
The Forum will also review the region’s progress in implementing the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP), as well as initiatives to strengthen research, and institutional and human capacity through the CRFM’s collaboration with a number of development partners such as the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Florida in the USA, the International Ocean Institute, Dalhousie University, Canada; the University of Wollongong in Australia, and the United Nations University in Iceland.
This collaboration is vital in ensuring that CRFM Member States are equipped with the human and institutional capacity needed to tackle the increasing challenges of sustainable development that confront them—challenges which are being exacerbated by climate change.
One such challenge is the emergence of the Sargassum seaweed on the region’s beaches and in the coastal waters.
“Last year and 2011 we had massive influx of Sargassum seaweed on our beaches that affected our fisheries. So we are putting in place measures to deal with the Sargassum seaweed should it return in the future—we hope it won’t, but just in case it does—and from all indications, we are expecting to have more of this seaweed coming on our shores and in our coastal waters,” Haughton said.
Haughton said that associated with the Sargassum seaweed are large numbers of juvenile dolphinfish (locally known as mahimahi)—which is a very important target species in the Eastern Caribbean.
“Our fishermen, of course, once they see these in large quantities, even though they are juveniles, they will catch them. So we are promoting the implementation of emergency, precautionary management measures; that is, minimum size limits for the dolphinfish fishery,” Haughton said.
Aquaculture is also big on the agenda, and the Forum will discuss a new 5-year aquaculture action plan, which they will be asked to endorse. Since land mass is limited in our region, non-conventional aquaculture schemes are being promoted and explored.
“Aquaponics is something that has been growing in the region—this is growing fish and vegetables together in a limited area using re-circulating water systems. This is more suitable for the smaller islands, like Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados,” Haughton explained.
On the second day of the meeting, the Forum members will discuss a proposal from the United States to support fishers through a risk insurance facility, Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), which will be handling the technical details for the development of the policy. Under this regime, CRFM Member States will make contributions to the scheme in addition to the initial contribution of the USA.
The Caribbean Fisheries Forum will conclude its meeting with recommendations to be submitted at the next meeting of the CRFM’s Ministerial Council—the chief policy making body on fisheries in the Caribbean Region.
IICA as the implementing agency for the 10th EDF sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Project and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), a Partner under the Project to develop/strengthen the national and/or regional regulatory and industry capacity related to health and food safety in fisheries and aquaculture to meet the SPS requirements of international trade in areas such as inspection, import/export certification, diagnostics, risk assessment, surveillance, reporting.
Closing date for receipt of Expression of Interest has been extended to 6 May 2016 at 4:00pm Eastern Caribbean Time. Click here for further details