Belize City, Friday, 15 July 2022 (CRFM)—Delegations from the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and Plant and Food Research Limited (PFR) of New Zealand have concluded a month-long tour in the Caribbean, including Cancun, Mexico, to gain firsthand knowledge of how the region has been coping with the persistent Sargassum problem. Incidentally, the mission was taking place as Sargassum influxes for the month of June hit a new historical record, underscoring the urgency of scaling up collaboration and private-public partnerships to convert Sargassum into economically viable, climate resilient products.
The CRFM contingent, comprised by Mr. Milton Haughton - Executive Director, Dr. Sandra Grant - Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Maren Headley - Programme Manager, Fisheries Management and Development, and Mrs. Beverley Sutherland - Project Coordinator, was joined by PFR’s Head of International Development - Dr. Suzie Newman, and her team: Ms. Rosie Paterson-Lima - Program Manager International Development, Mr. Wilson Huang - Senior Commercial Manager, and Dr. Mario Alayon - Scientist & Development Engineer.
This tour marks an important milestone in the New Zealand-funded Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience in the Caribbean project, which seeks to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries through the creation of inclusive value chains. The partners are now transitioning from phase 1, which involved raw material safety testing and harvesting operations review, to phase 2, which will focus on product and process development for Sargassum-derived products. Following the mission, the team is accessing the information gathered to formulate a plan of action for phase 2.
The first leg of the mission took the CRFM and PFR teams to Barbados, where they met with Hon. Adrian R. Forde, Rph. - Minister of Environment, National Beautification and the Blue and Green Economy and senior Government officials with responsibility for Blue Economic Growth and Fisheries, individuals from the private sector, and representatives of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the University of the West Indies’ Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (UWI-CERMES), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), between June 8-10, 2022.
Subsequently, the mission traveled to Saint Lucia, where they also met with Hon Jeremiah Norbert, Deputy Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, and other senior government officials and individuals from the private sector, including the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO) from June 11-14, 2022. They met with representatives of Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, in addition to community leaders in some of the heavily impacted coastal communities in Vieux Fort, Micoud and Dennery.
On the third leg of the mission, the CRFM and PFR contingents traveled to the Dominican Republic, where they met the District Director of Punta Cana Town – Mr. Ramon Antonio Ramirez, as well as representatives of the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo and private sector representatives involved in collection and management of Sargassum.
From there, the mission traveled to Belize, where the representatives of the CRFM and PFR met from June 21-26, 2022, with officials of government ministries responsible for Tourism, Agriculture, and Blue Economy, as well as CARDI, the University of Belize, and members of the private sector. While in Belize, the CRFM and PFR mission also traveled to the island of San Pedro for a site visit, to assess the areas that are being affected by Sargassum.
The final leg of the mission was Mexico. During June 26-29, 2022, the representatives of CRFM and PFR visited two (2) private sector companies, one which makes liquid fertilizer and soil enhancer from Sargassum, and the other which manufactures construction supplies from Sargassum.
“We were able to observe firsthand the effects of the Sargassum influx in the countries we visited. This allowed us to better understand the ongoing initiatives to utilize the Sargassum. The mission furthermore enabled us to make some critical connections with both private and public sector partners that will be useful as we move into the second phase of the Project,” said Ms. Sutherland, the Project Coordinator for CRFM.
Based on the information gathered during the tour and the analysis done on the samples that were collected in the first phase of the project, the focus will be on the formulation of liquid fertilizers and construction supplies.
The June 2022 Outlook of Sargassum blooms in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, recently published by the University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab said, “…the total Sargassum [in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Central Atlantic area] amount increased from ~18.8 million tons in May 2022 to ~24.2 million tons in June 2022, thus setting a new historical record.”
President of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines National Fisherfolk Organisation and Deputy Chair of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations, Mr. Winsbert Harry and two other fishers, Cafu Guy and Mac Clement St. Rose (L-R) receiving safety and navigation equipment to replace those lost in an at-sea accident earlier this year.
The equipment was obtained through the Secretariat of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience. The CRFM Secretariat coordinated the marine sub-component of the IDB-funded Pilot Program for Climate Resilience - Caribbean Regional Track which was executed by the Mona Office for Research and Innovation (MORI) at the University of West Indies at Mona, Jamaica.
A key output of the marine component was the FEWER (Fisheries Early Warning and Emergency Response) mobile app which gives fisherfolk the tools to prepare and respond to the effects of climate change-related disasters.
The FEWER APP can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
Sargassum seaweed has been inundating Caribbean beaches since 2011. (Photo: CRFM 2019)
Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience to mitigate harsh impacts on Caribbean States
BELIZE CITY, 2 MARCH 2021 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and Plant & Food Research, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, will host a virtual training workshop on Wednesday, 3 March 2021. The session—which will be conducted with the assistance of Prof Mona Webber of the Marine Science Centre, UWI, Mona Campus, Jamaica—will focus on techniques for harvesting, handling, species identification and processing of Sargassum seaweed for initial evaluation.
It will be attended by the four target countries for field work, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, and Jamaica, as well as other interested CARICOM States and organisations such as CARDI, CERMES UWI, University of Belize, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation (CNFO) and IAEA.
The training supports the effective implementation of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade-funded project entitled, Developing Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience in the Caribbean, due to commence in April 2021. In addition to the target countries, other CRFM Member States will benefit either directly or indirectly from the project, which aims to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries through the creation of inclusive value chains.
Since 2011, periodic influxes of massive quantities of Sargassum seaweed have been entering Caribbean waters, resulting in substantial economic losses and adverse impacts on human and environmental health.
The Outlook of 2021 Sargassum blooms in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, released by the University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab on at the end of February 2021 indicated that, “…the eastern [Caribbean Sea] will likely experience increased amounts of Sargassum in March and April 2021, while some of the Lesser Antilles Islands will continue experiencing beaching events on both their windward leeward beaches." It forecasted that the situation could continue into summer, with the overall bloom intensity possibly like that of 2019.
In September 2020, the CRFM entered into a 3-year collaborative agreement with Plant & Food Research, to address Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries. Plant & Food Research and the CRFM are collaborating to explore the creation of new technologies and value chains from the Sargassum seaweed. The project aims to develop Sargassum-derived product prototypes and production processes, including a commercialisation strategy to support its marketing.
In September 2020, the CRFM entered into a 3-year collaborative agreement with Plant & Food Research, to address Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries. Plant & Food Research, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, and the CRFM, an inter-governmental organization which promotes and facilitates the responsible utilization of the Caribbean's fisheries and other aquatic resources, are collaborating to explore the creation of new technologies and value chains from marine biomass, particularly the Sargassum seaweed.
The overall aim of the project is to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries through the creation of inclusive value chains for Sargassum seaweed.
The CRFM has produced a leaflet with further details. View it online below or download a PDF copy HERE.
Several information and knowledge products have been generated by the CRFM coordinated marine sub-component of the IDB-funded Pilot Program for Climate Resilience - Caribbean Regional Track that is being generally managed by the Mona Office of Research and Innovation (UWI, Mona).
These products give key messages to fishers, fisheries managers, vendors and consumers on the impacts of climate change on life below water, and ways to adapt.
Download the posters listed below. Check out the video playlists on CRFM's youtube channel, titled 'Working for Climate resilience' (posted here also for convenience).
And check out CRFM's latest Research Paper Collection Volume 9 that gives the most up to date details of the technical studies revealing expected climate change impacts on the marine capture fisheries sector.
Belize City, Wednesday, 31 July 2019 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to enhance comprehensive disaster management and climate change resilience in the fisheries and aquaculture sector within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, signed the MOU for CRFM while the Executive Director of CDEMA, Ronald Jackson, signed on behalf of CDEMA. The signing took place during the Tenth General Meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United Nations (UN) System, on Wednesday, 24 July 2019, in Georgetown, Guyana.
The CRFM Executive Director said: “This MOU was prepared to facilitate enhanced cooperation between the CRFM and CDEMA, recognizing the need for effective and progressive responses to the urgent and growing threats of climate change and associated hazards, as well as the vulnerability of our fisherfolk and fishing communities which constitute a very important part of our food production system.”
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton (right), joins Ronald Jackson, CDEMA Executive Director, in inking a Memorandum of Understanding (attached) to strengthen cooperation in disaster management and resilience (Photo: CARICOM Secretariat)
Immediate attention will be given to cooperation for sustained support for the Fisheries Early Warning and Emergency Response (FEWER) ICT Solution that had been spearheaded by the CRFM during 2017-18 in the course of the Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR), supported by the Inter-American Development Bank and The Mona Office of Research and Innovation (MORI) at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Jamaica.
Other areas of cooperation include joint project initiatives, training, capacity building and awareness activities, data and information collection and dissemination, and a support mechanism to help CARICOM countries and fishing communities prepare for and manage the threats and risks arising from manmade and natural hazards, including storms and hurricanes. The agreement also addresses post-disaster rehabilitation and recovery support for the restoration of services, infrastructure and livelihoods, as well as the restoration of the physical and ecological integrity of the affected coastal ecosystems.
In commenting on the signing, the Executive Director of CDEMA indicated that, “This represents CDEMA’s commitment to partnerships with other regional Institutions in an effort to advance resilience.” He expressed enthusiasm that CDEMA would be able to support the hosting infrastructure for the FEWER ICT Solution. Mr. Jackson furthermore pointed out this was in keeping with CDEMA’s role in advancing a comprehensive programme for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems, as well as serving as a regional hub for warning infrastructure.
FEWER reduces fishers’ vulnerability to the impacts of climate change but also allows them to share local ecological knowledge to inform climate-smart fisheries planning and management, decision-making, as well as risk management in the fisheries sector. During 2017-18, the CRFM, IDB and UWI ICT experts worked with government authorities and fishers in Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to pilot the development of the FEWER. The CRFM-CDEMA partnership is an essential step towards sustainably rolling out FEWER to other countries.
The CRFM’s Ministerial Council had signaled its support at its 13th Regular Meeting held this June 2019 in Saint Kitts and Nevis, for the CRFM’s partnership with CDEMA, which had been developing as both CARICOM inter-governmental agencies mobilized to support to Member States in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.
In October 2018, the Council approved a protocol on climate change and disaster risk management under the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy, for which the CRFM has the implementation lead.
The CRFM has also been working with the CCRIF and World Bank to introduce risk insurance to protect the fisheries sector against disasters. The Caribbean Oceans and Aquaculture Sustainability Facility (COAST) Parametric insurance policy for the fisheries sector was launched at the beginning of July 2018. The policy was developed by CCRIF and the World Bank with support from the Government of the USA.
The 17 Member States of the CRFM are also members of CDEMA. They are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Republic of Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands. The Virgin Islands is the only CDEMA member that is not a member of the CRFM.