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.
Grand Cayman, Thursday, 27 October 2016 (CRFM)—The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the top policy and decision-making arm of the CARICOM agency, is meeting today in Grand Cayman for its 6th Special Meeting. The meeting is being held as part of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which is being hosted in Cayman under the theme, “Investing in Food and Agriculture.”
High on the Ministerial Council’s agenda are plans to develop marine capture fisheries and aquaculture across the Caribbean, with the aim of reducing the region’s US$4 billion food import bill, while building a Caribbean seafood cuisine brand that the region and the world can embrace as a safe and healthy choice.
The 17-member Council is meeting at The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa for a three-hour session, to advance proposed legislation and guidelines which will support an enabling environment for a harmonized regime of food safety.
At the Ministerial Council’s recent meeting in Jamaica, chairman Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries of Jamaica, urged the region to explore the untapped market of open-sea fish and aquaculture and to lock in a bigger share of the US$136-billion global industry.
Chair of Ministerial Council: Hon. Karl Samuda, CD, MP; Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries, Jamaica (Official photo)
Today, the fisheries ministers are looking at strategic interventions which the region can make to develop the full potential of its marine capture fisheries and aquaculture, in line with the current push towards the Blue Economy and Blue Growth, which aims to maximize benefits from the region’s expansive maritime spaces.
With the recent battering of some CARICOM countries by hurricanes and storms during this hurricane season, the need for the region to establish better mechanisms to provide risk insurance for fishers is also a high priority. The Council is reviewing the progress made towards the activation of the Caribbean Ocean Assets Sustainability Facility (COAST), which includes a risk insurance facility for fishers.
The Caribbean Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) is developing a new sovereign parametric policy for the fisheries sector, and a micro-insurance policy for small-scale fishers based on the template for the existing Livelihood Protection Policy (LPP) that targets farmers and labourers. Fishers will soon be able to purchase the policy and obtain quick payouts when they experience losses due to storms, heavy rainfall, high winds and other climate related variables.
The CRFM Ministerial Council is also discussing a model protocol for responding to the influx of sargassum seaweed that has been affecting fisheries, coastal and marine ecosystems and other economic activities in the waters of Caribbean countries. The initiative by the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO/WECAFC) to establish a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation in the Wider Caribbean Region and a proposal by South Korea for the establishment of a World Fisheries University are also being considered by the Ministerial Council.
The meeting of the Council precedes the 62nd Special Meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), scheduled for Friday. The CRFM—which is represented at the meetings in Cayman by Executive Director Milton Haughton—has lead responsibility for the development of the marine fisheries and aquaculture industries, highlighted by COTED as priority commodities.
Belize City, Friday, 23 September 2016 (CRFM)—Fifteen fisheries personnel, including senior fisheries officers, fisheries officers, analysts and policy officers, traveled to Australia this week to participate in a specialized training course on “Enhancing Fisheries Management Capacity in the Caribbean Region.”
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) partnered in developing the 4-week course, to strengthen the region’s capacity in fisheries law and fisheries management.
More specifically, the training—which is being held at the Innovation Centre at ANCORS, University of Wollongong, ranked among Australia’s top 10 universities—is intended to address the conservation and protection of living marine resources and biodiversity; monitoring and surveillance; as well as measures to curb illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
“This is a great training opportunity for CRFM Member States, and we are grateful for the valued contributions which Australia continues to make to help advance fisheries management and development across the CARICOM region. The CRFM appreciates this sustained support,” said Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Australian Government institution which is funding the training, awarded Australian Awards Fellowship to nominees who were selected from 10 CRFM Member States.
It is expected that when the training concludes on October 15, they will partner with relevant stakeholders to help improve frameworks and cooperative agreements at home and across the wider Caribbean, to achieve sustainable fisheries, which would, in turn, mean more dollars for the fishing industry and improved socio-economic conditions in beneficiary states.
This training builds on two previous training workshops, successfully held in Australia in 2012 and 2014. It helps to fulfill a Memorandum of Understanding which the CRFM and ANCORS signed back in 2012.
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.
Applications are invited from interested and suitably qualified nationals of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Member States to fill the position of PROGRAMME MANAGER – RESEARCH AND RESOURCE ASSESSMENT
The deadline for the submission of applications is 30 April 2016.
Title: Preparation of A Practical Guide for the Implementation of St. George`s Declaration on Conservation, Management and Sustainable Use of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus)
Summary: The CRFM Secretariat is inviting expressions of interest from suitably qualified resource persons to undertake a short term assignment to prepare A Practical Guide for the Implementation of St. George`s Declaration on Conservation, Management and Sustainable Use of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus). The project will be conducted between 15 January and 5 March, 2016
Study on the impacts of rising cost factors such as capital, labour, maintenance and energy costs on fishing operations in the CRFM Member States and REBYC-II LAC participating countries
The CRFM Secretariat is inviting expressions of interest from suitably qualified persons to undertake a short term assignment to review the impact of rising cost factors, such as capital, labour, maintenance and energy costs on fisheries operations in the CRFM Member States and REBYC-II LAC participating countries, and propose appropriate policy options and strategies for dealing with the resulting issues in order to improve efficiency, improve on productivity and sustainability, and reduce economic risks to the sector. The project will be conducted over a period of ten (10) months between December 2015 and November 2016.
In keeping with the MOU between the CRFM and the IOI, The CRFM Secretariat is pleased to share with you Course announcement for the 2016 IOI Training Programme on Ocean Governance: Policy, Law and Management, to be held at the Dalhousie University in Canada, from18th May to 15th July 2016.
The training programme is specifically designed to benefit mid-career professionals who are responsible for some aspect of coastal or ocean governance including but not limited to personnel from Fisheries Department, Foreign Affairs, Coast Guard / Defense Force, or private sector organization. Given the under-representation of women in the upper echelons of administration and policy-making, particular emphasis is placed on trying to achieve equal numbers of female and male participants, and to create a forum where men and women can learn together, sharing different perspectives and examing issues from different viewpoints.
The programme is expected to include: • Ocean Sciences • Law of the Sea & Principled Ocean Governance • Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management • Sustainable Development • Fisheries and Aquaculture • Energy • Maritime Security • Marine Transportation • Media and Communication • Integrated Maritime Compliance & Enforcement • Negotiation • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) • Project Cycle Management • Performance Management.
Persons from CRFM Member States who are interested in being considered for the available fellowships should contact the Fisheries Division /Department for further information.
Further information on the training course may also be obtained from IOI-Canada’s website ( www.dal.ca/ioihfx ).
VIDEO: Safe Seafood from the Caribbean
A short film on the work of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) to upgrade food safety standards for fish and seafood from CARIFORUM nations [Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Dominican Republic] in a bid to access export markets and guarantee safer seafood to Caribbean consumers; from national consultations and a regional validation workshop in mid-2015.
FORMAT: MP4 1280 x 720 NTSC
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 25 August 2015, (CRFM) – Industry figures and government officials from across the Caribbean fishing industry Tuesday wrapped up two days of talks here acknowledging they were at the very early stages of introducing a new regime for safe seafood for local and international consumption.
The two-day meeting is part 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 Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (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).
Milton Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
“Developed countries – the EU, United States, Canada … all have standards that you must meet in order to export to their market,” said Milton Haughton, CRFM executive director. “In our countries we may not meet all those standards currently and so we want to put in place the systems which are quite complicated to be able to enter those markets to satisfy their requirements so that our products can be exported.”
The EU is requiring exporting nations put enforceable legislation in place in each country to govern SPS standards.
“The experts here (were) discussing the regulations, the human resources (and) the institutional arrangements that are required to monitor, evaluate (and) test for various pathogens, and to ensure that we do have a good system in place that meets with international best practice.” Haughton said.
So far, compliance with globally established standards in the region is voluntary – a worrisome development that experts say is stopping member states from tapping into niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings.
A two-month long assessment by international consultants has exposed large gaps in legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region.
The meeting discussed how to introduce a region-wide set of food safety and environmental safeguards which were presented for review by a team of legal and scientific consultants who moved through the region assessing the state of industry over the last two months.
As they travelled through CARIFORUM group of nations – the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic -a team of consultants from Jamaica, Britain and Iceland inspected processing plants, cold storage facilities and testing laboratories.
The CRFM head expressed the hope that adopting SPS measures region-wide could also have spinoff benefits for local consumers.
“It’s not only about exporting and earning exchange; it’s also ensuring that our people have healthy and safe fish and seafood to eat,” he added. “Given the challenges that we have in this region for economic development, employment and earning foreign exchange, we have to make use of all the resources that we have including ensuring that we can get good prices for our fish and also have safe fish and seafood for our own people.”
Belize, one of the region’s leading fish and seafood exporters, is hoping to learn from other CARIFORUM countries represented at the meeting while offering to sharing information with smaller exporting nations that would help improve food safety standards.
Delilah Cabb Ayala, SPS Coordinator, Belize Agricultural Health Authority
“For the first time, we’re having a forum where we could start discussing (SPS) issues as a region,” said Delilah Cabb Ayala, SPS Coordinator for the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA). “Each country has been looking at their own legislation, trying to ensure that they make the necessary amendments, just to be able to have access to the EU and the other trading partners with which we are currently trading.”
Last year, Belize exported an estimated 44 million US dollars in shrimp alone from total exports worth 64 million US dollars.
Cabb Ayala said the regional effort to harmonise SPS rules across CARIFORUM will be a “lengthy process” but with nations such as Belize ahead of others, she is hoping that proposals will emerge that "take into account all the different levels that we are dealing with within the region."
She continued: “(This) meeting to ensure that we have harmonised procedures is a good thing. Additionally, it allows for technical experts to bring to the fore their current situations, and at that level try to come up with proposals that can actually be implemented at the national levels."
“We could learn from other countries. In the discussions, I said I will be sharing some information that we are implementing in Belize. So countries could look at our proposal and if it is for them adaptable, they could readily move with that.”
The two-day meeting posed questions regarding primary and secondary legislation, including coming food safety laws and protocols, processes for appeals, and procedures for licensing, export and controls.
The meeting considered strategic priorities at the national and regional level and began discussions on a governance structure for food safety and fisheries. The officials also considered how to integrate their work into the development of the fledgling Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) based in Suriname and the progress towards the setting up of national health and food safety authorities.