Bridgetown, Barbados, 29 March 2023 (IICA): Fish processing establishments and fishers across the Caribbean now have access to a new online hub of fisheries food safety resources. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in partnership with the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) today announced the launch of the new Fisheries Food Safety Hub, developed with funding from the European Union (EU) under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Project.
“At the European Union, we view our environmental and health ambitions – set in the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy – as drivers for raising global standards through trade. Ensuring fisheries food safety is at the core of these standards, allowing not only for exports to the EU, but also within Caribbean countries. We therefore welcome the launch of the Fisheries Food Safety Hub which will serve as a learning platform for stakeholders and as a product of the longstanding partnership between the EU, IICA, and CRFM,” stated EU Ambassador, H.E. Malgorzata Wasilewska.
The purpose of the Fisheries Food Safety Hub is to increase accessibility to fisheries food safety compliance materials. It serves as the central access point for a wealth of food safety resources for the Caribbean, primarily developed under the 10th and 11th EDF SPS Measures Project. These include guides and manuals, training videos, infographics, and policy documents covering the entire fisheries value chain: pre-harvest, harvest, and post-harvest. The Hub also features resources developed through complementary initiatives to strengthen food safety in the region, including the Leadership Institute of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO).
IICA and the CRFM developed the Hub for stakeholders from both the public and private sectors in the fifteen CARIFORUM countries. The partners especially catered to the needs of fishers and fisher organizations, as well as aquaculture farmers, thereby expanding the reach of the project’s online platform to the agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture sectors.
“Having ready access to current scientifically based information on a timely basis is fundamental for strengthening compliance with international Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and ultimately contributes towards improved market access and trade in the Caribbean Region. Hence IICA is very pleased to collaborate with the CRFM with funding from the European Union to develop this important information resource for the fisheries sector,” stated the Head of IICA’s Agricultural Health, Food Safety and Quality Programme, Dr Jose Urdaz.
Mr. Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism said: “The Fisheries Food Safety Hub is a very important development and will be beneficial to all our stakeholders in the CARIFORUM countries—from producers to consumers, as well as national and regional regulatory authorities with responsibility for ensuring safe and wholesome supplies of fish and fishery products to local markets, and for monitoring the implementation and compliance with trading measures and standards to promote sustainable trade. This is of particular importance given that food safety is of highest priority, especially in the context of expanding trade while also reaching the target of a 25% reduction in the Caribbean’s food import bill by 2025, as mandated by our Heads of Government."
Mr. Adrian LaRoda, Chair of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations, said: “The Hub itself will be very beneficial to the CNFO, as it is another platform for us, small-scale fishers, to be able to share our message... to reach a greater number of participants, particularly those who are not within the CNFO constituency.” Mr. LaRoda added that CNFO members will take advantage of the Fisheries Food Safety Hub, and they will continue to update the information from the CNFO Leadership Institute which is featured on the Hub, and to use the platform as a part of their ongoing efforts to strengthen the capacity of fishers in the Caribbean.
Mr. Udo Karg, the Acting Chair of the Suriname Seafood Association and CEO of Ocean Delight, underscored that food safety is the highest priority. One of Suriname’s export establishments, Ocean Delight, is featured on the Fisheries Food Safety Hub, as one of entities which received training under the 11th EDF SPS Measures Project. All the materials for that training are available for open access on the Fisheries Food Safety Hub. Mr. Karg also sees the Food Safety Hub as a marketing tool which demonstrates the work done in Suriname to ensure fisheries food safety, particularly for exporting to the EU.
Mr. Eardley Simmons, Managing Director of Bequia Seafood in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which has been in operation since October 2017, agreed that the Fisheries SPS Hub can be used as a tool to strengthen capacity in the fisheries sector. He said that they would greatly benefit if they could get assistance from another processing plant to train their workers, and this exchange could help them to improve their standards by learning from what other establishments have been doing to address their challenges. Bequia Seafood could, in turn, offer training to other establishments in the region.
The resources that are showcased on the Fisheries Food Safety Hub will help persons in the fisheries and aquaculture sector to strengthen their knowledge on food safety, and especially the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures that are important for trade within and outside of the Caribbean Region.
The Fisheries Food Safety Hub is linked with the e-Library of the project, available on edfspscariforum.online, which offers authoritative digital resources dedicated to stakeholders interested in Agricultural Health, Food Safety and Food Quality in the CARIFORUM region.
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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 13 December 2016 (CRFM)—The fisheries industry on Wednesday moves one step closer to making the Caribbean fish and seafood trade safer and more profitable when experts meet in Barbados to finalise a raft of model regional laws, policies and procedures.
The Caribbean region’s ability to cash in on a potentially lucrative, international export trade in fish and seafood – already worth 315 million US dollars a year – is being held back by gaps in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) said.
But the experts, who are wrapping up an 18-month-long project to investigate fish handling policies and design a new seafood safety regime for the region’s fish and fishery products, are set to introduce a new regime for SPS measures in CARIFORUM states.
“The continued viability and further development of the fishing industry of the CRFM region face several challenges, some of which are related to inadequate development of SPS systems to suit the specific needs of fisheries and aquaculture operations,” said CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton ahead of the two-day meeting.
Haughton said the experts are meeting to bring forward work begun a year ago on preparing model legislation.
The meeting will unveil model fisheries and aquaculture SPS legislation that is to be presented to CARICOM with the intention of being enacted in each exporting nation. The model legislation has been developed in consultation and communication with policymakers, fisherfolk, processors and other industry players.
Compliance with globally established SPS standards is voluntary – a worrisome development that experts say is stopping member states from tapping into niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings.
Investigations by international consultants on the project exposed large gaps in legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region.
The experts found barriers to trade of fish and fisheries products due to inadequate SPS standards; minimal legislative standards for aquaculture; concern about food security and decreasing use of local, fresh seafood – the solution for which improved SPS support is an essential component, the CRFM said.
With the impact of global environmental changes including climate change on the Caribbean, the regional fisheries agency said there is need for improved management and monitoring of the natural environment that sustains fisheries and aquaculture production.
The meeting is to be streamed live daily for regional media, industry figures, officials and anyone interested in fisheries and the safety and health of fish and seafood in the region, the CRFM said. The proceedings may be followed on the CRFM’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/TheCRFM.
Government officials from each CRFM member state are to review and endorse the final documents to allow final approval. These will then be recommended to CARICOM’s Council for Trade Economic Development (COTED), the regional bloc’s forum of trade ministers, as well as other CARICOM bodies.
The two-day meeting is the high point of a European Union-funded project to help CARIFORUM countries introduce laws, regulations and a governance system to guarantee safe seafood for export to EU markets and beyond.
The project, which is being carried out by the Belize-based CRFM and supported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), aims to ramp up food safety standards to enable CARIFORUM fish exporters to take up trading opportunities under the EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The project is financed under the EU’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project.