Belize City, Friday, 7 October 2022 (CRFM)—Fisheries Ministers from across Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) issued a formal statement at the end of their 12th Special Meeting held on Friday, 7 October 2022, announcing a year-long celebration in 2023, to observe the 20th Anniversary of the CRFM.
The celebration will showcase the vital contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to the regional and national economies, and to food and nutrition security, livelihoods, job creation, trade, and blue economic growth.
In their deliberations today, the Ministerial Council of the CRFM also took some important decisions to, among other things, advance small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the region, in collaboration with fisherfolk organizations as well as regional and international development partners and donors.
The full Ministerial Statement on the CRFM's Anniversary celebration appears below:
Friday, 7 October 2022
The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM)—comprised of Ministers responsible for Fisheries across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)—meeting at their 12th Special Meeting held on Friday, 7 October 2022, hereby declare that 2023 shall be observed and celebrated as the 20th Anniversary of the CRFM.
The Fisheries Ministers note that 2023 will mark 20 years since the CRFM was officially inaugurated as a specialized, inter-governmental CARICOM Regional Institution 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.”
In this regard, the Ministerial Council reaffirms its full support for the CRFM@20 Action Plan and calls upon the CRFM Secretariat, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the CARICOM Secretariat and our regional and international development partners and donors to support its implementation.
The Ministers note that the CRFM’s 20th Anniversary campaign will focus on the CRFM’s achievements over the past two decades and inspire a fresh vision for the future of the fisheries and aquaculture sector, while seizing new opportunities for maximizing the benefits of the Blue Economy for sustainable development of our countries and the welfare of our people.
The Fisheries Ministers underscore the important value of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the regional and national economies of CARICOM, and the critical importance of its contributions towards achieving the mandate issued by the CARICOM Heads of Government at the Thirty-third Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference, to reduce the region’s food import bill by 25% by 2025.
The Ministers also emphasize the sector’s unique role in sustainably harnessing the vast and diverse wealth of the Blue Economy. This unparalleled value of the sector will be brought into focus during the CRFM’s Anniversary Celebrations, with special emphasis on sustainable livelihoods and employment, food security and nutrition, and domestic and foreign trade.
The Ministerial Council of the CRFM unreservedly reiterates its full support for all activities outlined in the CRFM@20 Action Plan, including the 3-day Scientific Conference and series of webinars on important topical issues on fisheries, aquaculture and blue economic growth which the CRFM will convene as a part of the CRFM’s 20th Anniversary celebrations, to highlight the scientific contributions of the CRFM, its Member States, and regional and international partners, to the advancement of the sector.
"Climate change and ocean acidification pose significant threats to fish production on top of the many other pressures, such as overfishing, habitat degradation, pollution and invasive species—all undermining our food and nutrition security..."
-- Mr. Milton Haughton, CRFM Excecutive Director
The Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Mr. Milton Haughton, has underscored the need for access to financing and technology in addressing the threats which climate change pose to Caribbean fisheries and aquaculture. In addressing the Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week 2022 (LACCW) side event in July on Anticipating climate risks and preventing disaster: climate resilient development pathways in Latin America and the Caribbean, he emphasized the need to build partnerships as well as capacity at the local and community levels. He also spoke of the need to pursue an integrated approach to implementing and mainstreaming the best practices developed over the years to improve resilience and empower coastal communities.
Mr. Haughton expressed concern that adverse climate change impacts will inevitably result in reduced availability of fish for local consumption and export—compounding the threats that already confront the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
"Climate change and ocean acidification pose significant threats to fish production on top of the many other pressures, such as overfishing, habitat degradation, pollution and invasive species—all undermining our food and nutrition security," he stated.
The CRFM Executive Director also stressed the need for CRFM Member States to take the whole-of-government approach, rather than a siloed approach to combating these myriad challenges and threats arising from climate change. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has placed a high priority on supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as disaster risk management across the Community. In this regard, in 2005, the CARICOM Heads of Government established the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). The CRFM maintains a close partnership with the CCCCC as well as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), in addressing adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management in the fisheries sector. Furthermore, the CRFM works closely with several other key partners, including Member States, donors, local civil society and NGOs, to develop and implement best practices.
In 2018, the CRFM’s policy-makers, the Ministerial Council, adopted the Protocol on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture, an important protocol to the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) which promotes cooperation and collaboration among Caribbean people, fishers and governments in conserving, managing, and sustainably using fisheries and related ecosystems, as well as improving the welfare and livelihood of fisherfolk in the region. Another key instrument is the CRFM’s Regional Strategy and Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture (2020-2030) .
Mr. Haughton noted that at the national level, several CRFM Member States have developed climate change policies and strategies, providing a roadmap at the national level to address the problems arising from climate change.
Fisherfolk in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines received equipment obtained through the CRFM Secretariat under the CIF/IDB Pilot Program for Climate Resilience - Caribbean Regional Track.
He also highlighted several projects that the CRFM has been involved with, which address the issue of climate change. These include the Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector Project (CC4FISH) and the Caribbean Fisheries Co-management Project (CARIFICO), which promoted the development and deployment of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) capable of withstanding category 5 hurricanes, thereby reducing damaging impacts to the environment, including ghost fishing.
The CRFM was also integrally involved in the IDB Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) - Caribbean Regional Track, which was funded by the Climate Investment Fund (CIF). The CRFM Secretariat coordinated the marine sub-component of the Regional Project, which was executed by the Mona Office for Research and Innovation (MORI) at the University of West Indies, Jamaica. The CRFM coordinated the development and testing of the Fisher Early Warning and Emergency Response (FEWER) Moobile App in collaboration with UWI. The CRFM is partnering with CDEMA, in an effort to expand the reach and uptake of this tool and scale up its benefits across the region.
The CRFM’s collaborative work has extended to the mainstreaming of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF)—a very important parametric insurance arrangement to help counter the impacts of adverse weather events and other natural disasters affecting the fisheries sector—and the roll-out of the Caribbean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainability Facility (COAST)–an innovative climate risk insurance mechanism to promote food security; livelihoods of fisherfolk; resilient fisheries; sustainable management of coastal infrastructure; and disaster risk reduction in the Caribbean.
The CRFM has also supported the expansion of the Caribbean’s Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) Network , through which stations have been installed in some Caribbean countries with support from the CCCCC.
The most recent initiative of the CRFM is being implemented in partnership with the Government of New Zealand through Plant and Food Research Limited. The Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience Project seeks to turn the large swaths of Sargassum seaweed that have been inundating Caribbean beaches and coastal waters annually since 2011, into commercially viable products that would provide new opportunities for enterprise, livelihoods, employment and economic growth.
To access the body of CRFM documentation on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, visit the CRFM Portal . You can also register to become a member of the portal.
#CaribbeanFisheries #climatechange #LACCW #CRFM
© 2022 Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
CRFM Member States highlight Caribbean Instruments and new Norway collaboration to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry
Published Thursday, 4 August 2022 by the CRFM Secretariat
Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported Fishing (also called IUU Fishing) has been on the radar of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and its seventeen (17) Member States for more than a decade. The commitment of the CRFM and its Member States to address this very challenging and persistent problem has been unwavering, and the timeline below features the major milestones attained over the past 12 years–the most recent of which is the CRFM’s support of the International Declaration against Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the Copenhagen Declaration) and the Norwegian supported Blue Justice Initiative.
These provide an international framework which complements the Caribbean framework, developed under the auspices of the CRFM, guided at the policy level by its Ministerial Council.
At a side event at the UN Ocean Conference, held in Lisbon, Portugal on 29 June 2022, the CRFM co-hosted a panel with the Blue Justice Secretariat, Norway and the Blue Justice Initiative on Caribbean and international efforts and mechanisms for combating IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.
"It is a very difficult problem that requires enhanced regional and international cooperation and collaboration to effectively eradicate."
- Dr. Gavin Bellamy, CRFM Representative (Jamaica)
Dr. Gavin Bellamy, Chief Executive Officer, National Fisheries Authority, Government of Jamaica, affirmed that “...governments [in the Caribbean Community - CARICOM] have accorded high priority to combating fisheries crime in the region. It is a very difficult problem that requires enhanced regional and international cooperation and collaboration to effectively eradicate.”
Dr. Gavin Bellamy
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
He said that, “The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has been coordinating regional efforts to prevent, deter, and eradicate IUU fishing and crimes in the fisheries sector.” He added that despite the progress made, there was still a long way yet to go.
H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran, Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway, describes IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry as a threat to our common future. He cautioned that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be attained unless this problem is addressed.
"Through the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism in CARICOM, no less than 12 [Caribbean] countries have decided to join the [Copenhagen] Declaration… In May 2021, the Caribbean ministers started with a resolution endorsing the Copenhagen Declaration and pledging support for the Blue Justice Initiative as frameworks for regional and international cooperation to combat organized crime in the fishing industry,” H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran said.
H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
The Caribbean countries are among 48 signatories to the declaration, which was first endorsed in 2018. Since then, Norway–which hosts the secretariat for the Copenhagen Declaration and the Blue Justice Initiative–has led the charge in supporting international efforts to implement the declaration. Its partnership with the CRFM and its Member States took root at Our Ocean Conference in 2019–when the the Blue Justice Initiative was launched–and since then, the CRFM and Norway have continued to partner to address this global problem.
Map © 2022 CRFM
Mr. Gunnar A. Stølsvik
Mr. Gunnar A. Stølsvik, Specialist Director, Fisheries Department at the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, said that the Copenhagen Declaration is a political statement and not a legally binding instrument. He added that the declaration recognizes the relevance of the entire fisheries value chain: from capture, to handling and processing, through to sale and the financing of operations.
“To build a [sustainable] blue economy, you have to make sure that the shadow blue economy does not occupy too much of a big space in that economy,” he said.
FOCUS ON CARIBBEAN ACTION TO ADDRESS IUU FISHING AND ORGANISED CRIME IN THE FISHING SECTOR
"There is no simple, no single, no short-term solution to IUU fishing… or to the related organized crime and the networks focusing their commitment and efforts in keeping… the status quo,” said Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr, MP - Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, The Government of Jamaica. He added that successful responses will require a holistic and integrated approach where policies are linked to the drivers of IUU fishing.”
Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr, MP
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
Minister Charles proposed that Jamaica could serve as the regional Blue Justice hub for the Caribbean, and that the sub-regional office for the Blue Justice Initiative could be established in that country.
He said that support within the region and beyond is required to assure success, including independent action by States, bilateral action by adjacent states, and multilateral action by all parties involved in the fight.
The Minister outlined some key actions by Jamaica:
Minister Charles noted the devastating toll that IUU fishing has had on Jamaica, as well as the world. He said that the scourge of poaching, especially by foreigners, “has caused Jamaica billions of dollars in lost earnings and has prevented thousands of Jamaicans from accessing gainful employment.” He said that Jamaica has suffered annual losses of $6 million in direct export earnings and 5,500 jobs, which has had a multiplier effect on families. The country had put in place a 2-year moratorium on the Queen Conch fishery due to poaching, primarily foreigners.
According to Minister Charles, it is estimated that catches from IUU fishing constitute more than 30% of reported catches, but for some species, IUU fishing may account for up to 3 times the permitted amount.
"The devastating impact of IUU fishing results in overexploitation and the eventual collapse of important fisheries, thereby exacerbating poverty and threatening the livelihoods of the most vulnerable citizens in our country,” the Minister said.
Hon. Andre Perez - Minister of the Blue Economy & Civil Aviation, Government of Belize, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impacts on our economies and the increasing threats to our resources by climate change and climate variability make the fight against IUU fishing even more urgent and critical.”
Hon. Andre Perez
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
Minister Perez said that it is crucial to adopt new and modern tools in the monitoring and control of the region’s small-scale fishing fleet. He said that Belize–which up to 2022 had declared 11.3% of its marine space as no-take high biodiversity zones–is one of the few countries that are piloting the use of mobile transceivers on the fishing fleet as a means of combating IUU fishing.
He added that the Belize Fisheries Department and co-managers of marine protected areas had adopted the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) to enhance enforcement in national waters.
Other initiatives which the Belize Minister highlighted are:
Minister Perez said that the Copenhagen Declaration of 2018 complements the Castries (St. Lucia) Declaration on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, previously signed by members of the CRFM Ministerial Council back in 2010. He also noted other instruments to which Belize had ascribed, including the 2019-2021 Regional Plan of Action on IUU Fishing (RPOA-IUU) for countries that are members of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC), as well as the 2018 Strategy to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate IUU fishing in the territorial waters of the Central America region, formulated under the auspices of the Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA). With respect to Belize’s recently enacted domestic fisheries legislation, Minister Perez said that in addition to including high fines and penalties intended to serve as a deterrent against IUU fishing, it also has provisions similar to the Lacey Act of the USA which sets out penalties for violations of laws in other states.
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Our oceans have been a major crime scene… and we must pledge and recommit our efforts to act globally in solidarity, so that we can ensure that we bring an end to IUU fishing in our world,” said Hon. Saboto Caesar - Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry & Labour, Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Hon. Saboto Caesar
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
"I want to send a very clear message to every Member State of the United Nations: for meaningful change to take place, it first begins with a clear expression of the political will to bring about change, and sadly there are still some Member States of the United Nations that have not yet expressed that political will in a way that will benefit the thrust and the effort of others in the fight against IUU fishing,” Minister Caesar stated.
Measures highlighted include:
Minister Caesar stressed the need for resource mobilization to address IUU fishing and transnational organized crime. He said that bilateral and multilateral platforms and in-country budgets must be mobilized to address the matter.
CRFM MOVING AHEAD WITH ITS MANDATE
Dr. Emma Witbooi - Project Manager, Blue Resilience, The United Nations Development Program, reaffirmed their commitment and partnership. She noted that the UNDP has facilitated country-led Blue Action Dialogues which focus on fostering dialogue and cooperation between institutions and agencies that work to tackle fisheries crime.
Dr. Emma Witbooi
“We are delighted to be embarking on the process of working together with various CRFM and CARICOM Member States in initiating these dialogues,” said Dr. Witbooi, reiterating the gratitude of the UNDP for the very fruitful collaboration with the CRFM and CARICOM.
Mr. Joseph Cox, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, lauded the efforts of the CRFM to synergize with the Government of Norway and other partners, through the Blue Justice Initiative to address the challenges arising from IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the industry. He noted that Article 60 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas–an article dedicated entirely to fisheries management–commits the Member States of the Community to collaborate with each other in the ongoing surveillance of their Exclusive Economic Zone.
Mr. Joseph Cox
To this end, the Caribbean Community has invested in institutions such as the CRFM and CARICOM IMPACS [The Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security] to both improve our collective management of our living marine resources and to bolster regional capacity in security matters,” Mr. Cox said.
“It is clear that a high level of commitment is present. CARICOM leaders have paved the [way] for effective cooperation, sustainable capacity building… in improving the safety of the Caribbean Sea, and the protection and safety of our hardworking fishers and our fisheries industries across Member States,” he added.
GALLERY ON YOUTUBE
#CaribbeanFisheries #IUUFishing #CRFM
© 2022 Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
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.”
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) joins the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in celebrating its 49th year of existence! CARICOM's establishment on July 4, 1973 paved the way for the creation of this vibrant regional community, which we now serve. The CRFM is a specialized CARICOM Institution which was established in 2002 by CARICOM Heads of States, to promote sustainable use of the living marine and other aquatic resources by the development, efficient management, and conservation of such resources. We are committed to working together with all CARICOM Institutions, Member States and People to realize the vision & objectives of the integration process, towards socio-economic development and improving the quality of life of the People in the community.
Effective management, conservation and sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture to maximize social and economic benefits in the CRFM Member States.
Promote and facilitate responsible and sustainable use of the region’s fisheries and other living aquatic resources for improved food security, livelihood, and welfare of the people of the region.
OUR ULTIMATE OUTCOMES
▪ Sustainable growth for all CARICOM Member States
▪ Reduced environmental vulnerability
▪ Improved quality of life for all the Community
▪ An integrated Community with equity for all
On Monday, 6 June 2022, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines celebrated its 45th National Fisherfolk Day under the theme “Collective action for a safe and resilient Caribbean Fisheries.”The fish catch competition was one of the highlights of the day, with a total of 2,798.31 pounds of fish being caught by 14 boats. The boat ‘Humble Me,’ captained by Earl Medford brought in the heaviest catch of 411 pounds.
During the celebrations, the Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour (MAFFRTIL), the Honourable Saboto Caesar, and the Chief Fisheries Officer, Mrs. Jennifer Cruickshank-Howard, encouraged young people to become involved in the fisheries sector and noted that a training program targeting them would soon be launched. Special mention was also made of the recently launched Fleet Expansion Program, which is aimed at poverty alleviation, wealth creation, improving food security and the sustainable usage of the blue economy’s resources. This was the first time since 2019 that there were in-person activities and celebrations given the COVID-19 pandemic and the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in 2021. The Minister pointed out that while the celebrations were scaled down due to the current COVID-19 protocols and the two-year hiatus, they were welcomed by all stakeholders and plans for the 46th celebrations were already in the pipeline.
The Minister was the chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council from 2021-2022 and is an International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) 2022 Champion. His selection as a champion recognizes his commitment to ensuring and safeguarding the social and ecological sustainability of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the region.
Photos courtesy: Communication Unit - Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour (MAFFRTIL), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Belize City, Monday, 25 April 2022 (CRFM)—Fisheries Ministers from countries that comprise the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) met on Friday, 22 April 2022, at their 16th Regular Meeting, to advance the institution’s strategic actions to build resilience and boost sustainable fisheries and aquaculture production, through targeted initiatives aimed at maximizing sustainable blue economic growth and improving access to international markets, while tackling the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and transnational organized crime in the industry.
Ministers highlight importance of blue economic growth in reversing declines in fish production and exports resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and in accelerating regional economic development
Before handing over the mantle of leadership to Suriname, the outgoing chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council, Hon. Saboto Ceasar, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Transformation, Forestry and Fisheries of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, emphasized that whereas much had been achieved during the previous year, significant work remained to be done. He informed the meeting that at the 37th session of the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (LARC37) held in Ecuador in March 2022, the CRFM Member States reiterated the request to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), for the deployment of the Norwegian Research Vessel (RV) Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, to conduct an independent marine resource survey of the marine living resources in the waters under the jurisdiction of CARICOM States. During this 16th Meeting of the Ministerial Council, the Ministers reiterated the crucial importance of moving ahead with the research, as it would provide an invaluable evidence base to drive informed blue economic development across the region, and expedite the region’s economic rebound and recovery from the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fisheries and aquaculture sector, which is already beginning to show positive signs of revitalization with more fishers and vessels returning to sea. The Meeting also discussed other ongoing initiatives to strengthen capacity for evidence-based decision making, including the Iceland-funded CARICE Project and FAO/WECAFC-Fisheries Resources Monitoring System (FIRMS) partnership.
Hon. Parmanand Sewdien, Suriname’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, elected as the new chair of the CRFM Ministerial, presided over the deliberations. The Ministers received updates on several initiatives being implemented by the CRFM Secretariat and Member States in collaboration with regional and international development partners, in the context of the Third CRFM Strategic Plan, spanning 2022 to 2030. These include the US$48 million CAF-FAO-CRFM-GEF supported project on Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus project (BE-CLME+), which the CRFM hopes will commence later in 2022. The Ministers affirmed that this initiative could contribute greatly to the realization of the target set by the CARICOM Heads of Government at their meeting held during March 2022, to reduce the region’s overall food import bill of around US$5-6 billion by 25% by 2025.
Additionally, the Ministers discussed initiatives which the CRFM and its Member States are undertaking to address the Sargassum inundations that have been affecting the region, including efforts to explore opportunities, through a partnership with New Zealand, to safely harvest Sargassum for the development of products that would enhance the region’s economic and climate resilience. This is being pursued under a three-year project, spanning 2021 to 2023, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and implemented jointly by the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited (PFR) and the CRFM.
The Ministers also dealt with the vital need for strengthening the region’s access to international markets, through enhancing fish and seafood quality and safety, with enhanced sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. The CRFM Secretariat and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), through the 11th European Development Fund SPS Project, continue to work with Member States and the private sector to build their trading capacity, thereby also contributing to the wider goal of slashing the region’s import bill over the next three years. They also considered the progress of the ongoing negotiations at the World Trade Organisation to prohibit the provision of certain fisheries subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (or IUU) fishing and overfishing.
The Ministerial Council gave the greenlight for the CRFM Secretariat to work with development partners to facilitate knowledge and technology transfer for integrated multitrophic aquaculture—which enables cost-effective and environmentally friendly expansion of aquaculture, including mariculture. The Ministers also welcomed positive news on the progress of activities under the Japan-funded COASTFISH project, which builds upon a previous Japan-funded co-management project in the region, which has strengthened the conservation, management and sustainable use of coastal marine resources through greater involvement of fishers and coastal communities.
The United Nations has declared 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA), to celebrate and improve awareness of the significant role of small-scale fishers. In welcoming the IYAFA celebrations, the Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the small-scale fisheries and aquaculture for employment, livelihoods, food security and nutrition, and health and wellbeing of the people of the region and acknowledged the CRFM’s preparation of a series of activities, including a high-level policy dialogue with fishers to mainstream small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the ongoing blue economy dialogue.
Hon. Avinash Singh, represented the Ministry of Agriculture,
Trinidad and Tobago, represented by Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries – Senator the Honourable Avinash Singh, was elected as vice chair at the meeting and is, therefore, next in line to assume the chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council in 2023, when the CRFM will commemorate the 20th anniversary since its launch with a series of activities that the Ministers approved during this 16th Meeting of the Council.
The CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said that this was a very productive meeting. He noted that the Ministers recognized the urgency of addressing the challenges facing the sector and made several decisions that will contribute to a more sustainable, resilient, and productive fisheries and aquaculture sector and ultimately to improved national and regional economic growth, food security and nutrition, livelihoods and well-being of the people of the region.
--------- End of Release---------
Videos courtesy: FAO
Belize City, Friday, 8 October 2021 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), an inter-governmental organization of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), announced this week that several of its Member States in the CARICOM region had signed The International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry, also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’. The countries simultaneously affirmed their resolute support to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry by supporting the Declaration and the Blue Justice Initiative. The Initiative will help to strengthen cooperation among countries and build capacity to address transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry and to combat IUU Fishing.
Speaking at a regional meeting of CARICOM Ministers responsible for Fisheries and Blue Economic Growth on Monday, 4 October 2021, Hon. Saboto S. Caesar, Chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council, and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labor, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, described the situation as “a very difficult problem,” adding that much needs to be done to tackle this growing threat that has been undermining the progress of the region.
Hon. Saboto Caesar hosts high-level Ministerial Meeting.
“Available data indicate that IUU fishing accounts for up to 30% of the total global catch, valued at several billions of US dollars…,” Minister Caesar said, adding that “There is a growing body of evidence showing that drug traffickers, human traffickers, small arms traffickers, and traders in contraband goods, among others, are using fishing as a cover to conduct their nefarious activities.”
Minister Caesar said that the CRFM Member States are very grateful for the support and leadership being provided by the Government of Norway in tackling the problem, through efforts such as the Blue Justice Initiative and the Blue Resilience Project.
“We recognize the value of the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the global fishing industry that was done in Copenhagen, Denmark, in October 2018. It provides a solid framework for countries like ours in the Caribbean to work together with regional and international partners to better understand the problem, share information, and build the necessary legal, regulatory, monitoring, control, surveillance, and enforcement capacity to defeat and eradicate transnational organized crime and IUU fishing," Minister Caesar said.
The CRFM Ministerial Meeting was convened during the 16th Annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture to provide an opportunity for Caribbean countries to formally express their support by signing the declaration. Even ahead of the meeting with representatives from the Government of Norway, the CARICOM Secretariat, and other regional and international development partners, CRFM Member States began to express their resounding support for the instruments, and the Ministerial Council issued a resolution after its 15th Meeting held in May 2021, setting the stage for this week’s milestones.
Member States have attested to the monumental cost of IUU fishing to the region. Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica, detailed the quantifiable cost on Jamaica’s economy, which has lost billions of Jamaica dollars in earnings as well as thousands of jobs. The devastation caused by IUU fishing forced a 2-year moratorium on the queen conch fishery, implemented from 1 February 2019 to 31 March 2021, to allow the fishery time to recover.
“As it relates to queen conch fishing, it is estimated that over the last 20 years (since the year 2000), Jamaica has lost at least US$284 million due to foreign IUU fishing,” said Minister Shaw, who provided a conservative estimate based on illegal foreign motor fishing vessels caught in Jamaican waters and an extrapolation of the estimated average rate of poaching.
“The closure of the queen conch fishery possibly resulted in annual losses of approximately US$6 million in direct export earnings and loss of jobs for some 5,500 Jamaicans. The multiplier effect, resulting from the loss of jobs and export earnings may be as much as US$20 million during the 2-year period,” Minister Shaw added.
Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica, detailed the quantifiable cost on Jamaica’s economy.
Jamaica was one of the 12 CRFM Member States which signed the Copenhagen Declaration en bloc this week and simultaneously endorsed the Blue Justice Initiative. As of Friday, 8 October 2021, 12 CRFM Member States had deposited signed instruments with the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, Belize. Those Member States are The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, The Turks and Caicos Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago.
"We need to continue to strengthen our collaboration, and I think we will begin to turn the tide on this very difficult issue that we are dealing with—of unlawfulness in the fishing industry and the depletion and degradation of our resources—and to sustainably use and develop these resources for the benefit of our people,” CRFM Executive Director, Mr. Milton Haughton, said, in addressing the Ministers.
Mr. Haughton added that going forward, the CRFM Secretariat will be collaborating with the UNDP and officials from Norway to organize a regional workshop involving technical officials from the Fisheries Departments and Maritime Security Agencies from Member States and Regional Institutions, to map out future needs and identify at least one high priority intervention to be supported under the Blue Justice Initiative.
“This is exciting! I want to take this opportunity to thank all the countries, the Ministers, and the Permanent Secretaries, that signed on to the declaration ... I also want to thank our colleagues from Norway, UNDP, FAO, UNODC, as well as our regional partners: CARICOM IMPACS and the Regional Security System (RSS) for the excellent support and collaboration," the CRFM Executive Director said in closing the meeting.