Belize City, Belize, Monday, 9 January 2017 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is hosting a working group meeting at the Ramada Belize City Princess Hotel from 9 – 10 January 2017, to advance the implementation of a risk insurance facility for fishers in the region.
When Fisheries ministers from CRFM Member States met in Cayman in October 2016, they reviewed the progress made towards the activation of the Caribbean Ocean Assets Sustainability FaciliTy (COAST). This week’s working group meeting, which the CRFM is facilitating in collaboration with the US Department of State, will aid in the selection of a representative sample of Caribbean countries in which the initiative will be piloted.
The purpose of this week’s meeting is to chart the steps necessary to qualify a pilot country (or pilot countries) to purchase the COAST insurance product from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility Segregated Portfolio Company (CCRIF SPC) before the start of the hurricane season on June 1, 2017.
The CRFM notes that, “The COAST insurance scheme will offer an opportunity for countries to buy insurance to help protect their fisheries sector, and hence their food security, from severe weather while promoting resilience to a changing climate and encouraging the conservation of marine environments.”
COAST will provide 180,000 fisherfolk and associated industries in the Caribbean access to insurance for losses from severe weather. Duncan said that Jamaica has already expressed interest in COAST, which is also supported in principle by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ministerial group, and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO), in addition to the CRFM.
The COAST initiative is being implemented within the context of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP), which provides a useful framework for considering the requirements for country-led, climate-smart food security strategies in the fisheries sector.
The CRFM is the lead implantation agency for Caribbean states. The regional fisheries body is uniquely positioned to lead efforts to verify country-led plans and support the implementation of best practices for climate-smart food security in the fisheries sector. International organizations such as the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and The Nature Conservancy are lending their technical support. All collaborating agencies were invited to attend the working group meeting.
Joining CRFM Secretariat staff members, US State Department personnel and officials of the US Embassy in Belize at the COAST meeting in Belize, are representatives of the World Bank, which has supported CCRIF SPC, a Cayman-based agency serving 17 Caribbean nations and Nicaragua, in the creation of the COAST insurance product.
According to the CRFM, the World Bank also ensures that the project meets the development objectives outlined by the financial donors – the US Department of State – including incentivizing risk reduction and coordinating disaster management.
Belize City, Friday, 27 May 2016 (CRFM)—Officials from the Caribbean Community and the United States advanced talks in Washington last week at the 7th Annual Meeting of the CARICOM-US Trade and Investment Council, on several key concerns affecting trade between the US and the region, chief among then being the treat of a lawsuit by US-based NGOs over the harvesting of queen conch for trade. The threat of suit is of great concern to the region, which exports roughly US$185 million worth of conch meat a year to the US.
In February 2016, WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals notified the Secretary of Commerce and the Administrator of NOAA of their intention to sue the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service / NOAA Fisheries, and their officers and directors over the Government’s decision back in 2014 not to list the queen conch as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), which was represented at the meeting by its executive director, Milton Haughton, maintained that the petition is unjustified, as it is based on outdated and erroneous information. A listing that the species is endangered would result in an outright ban, while a listing that it is threatened would lead to more stringent export regulations, among other measures.
The NGO which wants to challenge the decision of the US federal authorities is reputed to have a 77% success rate in lawsuits against the US Government. In studying the impact of litigation by the NGO, US researchers, Dr. Ryan M. Yonk of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at the Southern Utah University and Dr. Randy T. Simmons of the Department of Economics and Finance at Utah State University, found that the litigation, which has mostly been over land issues in the US, could jeopardize industries representing over US$3 billion in local economies. However, US authorities have indicated that they will defend their position on the queen conch. CARICOM States will, meanwhile, be monitoring this situation closely.
At the Washington meeting, the parties also discussed US measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and their potential impact on our region. A Presidential Task Force was established two years ago to develop recommendations for “a Comprehensive Framework to Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud.”
CARICOM notes that the new measures being introduced to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud could have significant negative consequences for the export of fish and seafood from CARICOM to the US market, since importers in the USA and by extension exporters from CARICOM countries targeting the US market, would be required to implement administrative systems to certify that fish and fishery products entering the US market are not from IUU sources.
However, the measures being implemented by the United States could also create opportunities for fish and fish products exported from the region, by reducing the occurrence of IUU fishing in our region by third States and unfair competition.
In the recent meeting, CARICOM officials laid out both their concerns and expectations to the US representatives, including the need for support for fish traders and Government Fisheries departments so that they could make the necessary reforms to comply with the new US requirements for international trade.