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Tuesday, 11 August 2015 12:46

SPS Fact Sheet #2

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul 30, (CRFM) – The Caribbean region's ability to cash in on a potentially lucrative, international export trade in fish and seafood is being held back by huge gaps in measures to protect food safety and animal health, experts say.

But the experts, who are investigating food handling policies in CARIFORUM countries, are set to propose a new regime for sanitary and phytosanitary – SPS – measures in CARIFORUM states.

Since starting their work in April, Jamaican SPS expert Dr. George Grant, international legal consultant Chris Hedley of the United Kingdom and experts from the renown Icelandic food safety agency, Matis Ltd., have discovered that in most instances compliance with globally established standards are voluntary – a worrisome development they say that stops member states from tapping into
niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings.

There are also either no legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region or where they are practised they are disorganised and informal, say the experts.

"It's the prerogative of the government, or the official, competent authority to develop a system whereby the food safety measures can be validated, inspected and can be regulated," Dr Grant says.

In two months of national consultations on SPS measures sponsored by the European Union in a number of CARIFORUM nations, Dr. Grant said there are no documented and transparent protocols for ensuring safe food handling and monitoring food processes.

Several Caribbean nations are yet to include these standards in their national regulatory system, something that has long been mandatory in many of the developed nations to which regional fisheries and food industries might seek to export.

But the CRFM supported by a team of Seafood safety experts, veterinary expert and lawyer is developing a region-wide set of food safety and environmental safeguards which they hope to unveil for adoption in late August.

"The set of protocols we are developing is to have them formally presented and documented so that countries can use them as guides to developing their own particular protocols and practices," Dr. Grant says.

As they travelled through Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states and the Dominican Republic which make up the CARIFORUM group of nations, the team assessed benchmarks for food safety in individual countries.

The news of the progress towards SPS compliance is encouraging. The experts note that most fish processors have implemented the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) standard for fish and fish product exports.

But as the Caribbean fishing industry and food makers seek to take advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to gain access to markets in European Union, there is an extra layer of requirements based on official controls.

The EU is requiring that exporting nations put enforceable legislation in place in each country to govern the SPS standards.

Through an EU-funded project, implemented by the CRFM and Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), the team is hoping to establish a uniformed set of procedures across the industry.

"The question of where to draw the level in terms of how strictly you regulate food
safety is really very much a national policy decision," Hedley says.

He cautioned that the process can be complicated, costly and potentially counter- productive: "We don't want to over-regulate and sort of crack a nut with a sledgehammer, if there are not substantial food safety problems.

"The more you regulate food safety and the stricter and more you demand in terms of that side of regulation, the more expensive products become, the less people are able to meet those requirements and they may be forced out of the business."

The aim, the legal expert says, is to step up protection measures, level the playing field, manage the risks involved in food protection and facilitate trade across the Caribbean and internationally.

"There is no end point to that, it's not like there is a single target we're going to aim for and then that's it - we can rest on our laurels. New challenges [are] arising all the time. It is a continual process of improvement," Hedley adds.

Yet, compliance is critical to the effectiveness of the new standards.

"[The EU] want to make sure that the legislation is properly in place in the country, that these requirements are not just voluntary but with specific legal requirements to implement these food safety procedures and that there are penalties in terms of not complying with them. So the businesses that don't comply with them can be taken out of the licensing process."

SPS legislation will need to be backed up by a system of government checks, controls and monitoring systems, says the SPS legal expert.

As the two-man legal team sifted through the paperwork – or lack of it – among Caribbean fisheries processors and exporters, another team of environmental monitors has been travelling the region, inspecting processing plants, cold storage facilities, testing laboratories and aquaculture facilities.

But the experts are anxious that the drive towards SPS compliance is not seen solely as jumping necessary hoops in the export trade. Hedley suggests that even if the region becomes compliant there is still no guarantee there would be an appetite for their goods in the EU. For Grant, another, often overlooked beneficiary is the Caribbean consumer who can rely more safely on wholesome food from the sea.

Fisheries managers, officials, scientists are expected to meet in Barbados on August
24 and 25 to pore over technical documents the SPS experts will produce, and their recommendations.

Hedley describes it as tool kit or resource paper which can be taken forward.

"This is a technical assistance project providing technical documents; actually they have to be developed in the real world politics and law and national sovereignty and go through the proper processes at the national levels and at the regional levels."


Published in Press release



15 May 2015


Published in Documents


St. George’s, Grenada, 13 May 2015 (CRFM): Fisheries Ministers from Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are expected to sign off on the Declaration on Spiny Lobster by way of a resolution, when they convene the 9th Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM on Friday, 15 May 2015 at Flamboyant Hotel in St. George's, Grenada.

The non-binding declaration establishes a roadmap for closer cooperation among the 17 CARICOM/CRFM States to ensure long-term conservation and sustainable use of the lobster resources.

The Ministerial Council meeting is scheduled to open at 9:00 a.m. The feature address will be delivered by Honourable Roland Bhola, Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Grenada, who will assume the chairmanship of the Council on the occasion of the meeting from Honourable Johnson Drigo, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dominica.

Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM Secretariat in Belize, said: “This is another important policy-level meeting of the CRFM Member States as they seek to strengthen cooperative arrangements, to realize the full development potential of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the region.

“Our vision and long-term goal is to transform the region’s fisheries and aquaculture into sustainable systems, in order to optimize the sector’s contribution to food and nutritional security, improved livelihoods and wealth generation, through the application of science and technology, good governance, and inclusive, sustainable development strategies.”

When they meet this Friday, the Caribbean Fisheries Ministers will be reviewing the progress being made in the implementation of existing policy instruments and programs. In charting the way forward, they will also make decisions on the next steps in the transformation process.

High on their agenda will be the endorsement of the process now underway to develop the Plan of Action to facilitate the implementation of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP).

The Fisheries Ministers will also discuss an initiative recently announced by the Government of the United States during the Caribbean Energy Summit on climate risk insurance for the Caribbean fisheries sector. This is in line with efforts to achieve Climate Smart Food Security (CSFS) using a Risk Insurance Facility (RIF).

The Ministerial Council will finally receive a full report on the outcome and recommendations of the 13th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, held in St. George’s, Grenada at the end of March this year.

The Ministerial Council of the CRFM is the arm of the CRFM which has primary responsibility for determining the policies of the organisation, resource allocation, cooperative agreements, and related decision-making.


Published in Press release
Friday, 13 February 2015 16:04

Preliminary List of Meetings 2015



DATE (2015)




14 Jan

Meeting of the Secretary-General, Ambassador / Change Drivers and Heads of Community Institutions to Consider the Implementation Plan for Community Strategic Plan

Georgetown, Guyana


20 - 23 Jan

Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond area of national jurisdiction

UN HQ, New York


21 Jan

CARICOM-Japan Friendship Year: JICA Seminar

Kingston, Jamaica


2 – 3 Feb (Officials)

5 – 6 Feb (Ministerial)

53rd Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) – Environment and Sustainable

Georgetown, Guyana


2 Feb - 20 Mar

Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf -37th Session

UN HQ, New York


5 – 6 Feb

Meeting of the Senior Maritime Administrators of the Caribbean in 2015

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago


10 – 12 Feb

Caribbean Water Information Generator Second and Final Stakeholder Consultation Workshop

Bridgetown, Barbados


16 - 20 Feb

Meeting of the ICCAT Working Group on Stock Assessment Methods

Miami, USA


19 – 20 Feb

24th Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum

Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines


23 - 24 Feb

Caribbean Green Economy Conference 2015 which will be held from 23 to 24 February 2015 in Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica


23-27 Feb

Meeting of the Global Record Informal Open-Ended Technical and Advisory Working Group

FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy


23 - 27 Feb

Inter-sessional Meeting of the Panel 2/10th Meeting of the IMM Working Group

Madrid, Spain


25 - 26 Feb

Regional Consultation to formulate a Plan of Action for Invasive Species for the OECS

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia


5 March

CARICOM Thematic Group - Agricultural Health and Food Safety Systems (AHFSS)



6 March

Agriculture Food and Nutrition Cluster Meeting



10 - 13 Mar

Strategy Meeting for Action on Blue Growth and Food Security

St. George’s, Grenada



CRFM/ UF SG Meeting & Presentation on CRFM to Faculty and Staff



16 - 17 Mar

11th Round of Informal consultations of States Parties to the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement

UN HQ, New York


16-18 Mar

Expert Group Meeting on Enhancing the Science-Policy Interface in SIDS

St. Lucia


17-18 Mar

7th Caribbean International Food Safety and Security Conference

Montego Bay, Jamaica


17 - 19 Mar

FAO/WECAFC Logical Framework/Project Design Workshop pf Project “Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector”

Bridgetown, Barbados


23 - 27 Mar

Blue Shark Data Preparatory Meeting

Madrid, Spain


30 Mar – 31 Mar

13th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum

St. George’s, Grenada


2 April

Delivery of ITLOS Advisory opinion in Case 21 on IUU Fishing

Hamburg, Germany


6-10 April

16th Meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultive Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

UN HQ, New York


9 or 10 April

SPS TAC Meeting (Electronic)




WECAFC/CRFM/IFREMER Working Group on Shrimp and Groundfish -1st Regional shrimp and groundfish fisheries management investment planning workshop (Suriname, April 2015, dates TBD) –IDB supported.

Paramaribo, Suriname



FAO/WECAFC Inception workshop project "Sustainable management of bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean trawl fisheries ” – GEF IW supported




WECAFC/CRFM/OSPESCA/CFMC Working Group on Recreational Fisheries – 2nd meeting on billfish management and conservation planning + WECAFC/FAO Project inception workshop of the Caribbean Billfish project   (component of the Ocean Partnerships For Sustainable Fisheries And Biodiversity Conservation – Models For Innovation And Reform), –World Bank supported.

Barbados or Miami


24-27 April

Fisheries Legal Component - EU-sponsored Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Programme in the CARIFORUM Region - in-country legal mission

The Bahamas


27 Apr - 1 May

Group of Experts of the Regular Process for global reporting and assessment of the state of marine environment, including socioeconomic aspects

UN HQ, New York


29 April - 1 May

Fisheries Legal Component - EU-sponsored Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Programme in the CARIFORUM Region - in-country legal mission



4-5 May

Fisheries Legal Component - EU-sponsored Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Programme in the CARIFORUM Region - in-country legal mission



4 - 8 May

Bigeye Data Preparatory Meeting

Madrid, Spain


7-9 May

Fisheries Legal Component - EU-sponsored Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Programme in the CARIFORUM Region - in-country legal mission



11 - 12 May

1st Meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on FADs

Madrid, Spain


11-13 May

Fisheries Legal Component - EU-sponsored Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Programme in the CARIFORUM Region - in-country legal mission

Dominican Republic


13-15 May

CARPHA/ PAHO/ IICA Regional Foodborne Diseases Surveillance and Food Safety Workshop

Trinidad & Tobago


15 May

9th Meeting of the CRFM Ministerial Council

St. George’s, Grenada


18 - 22 May

Convention Amendment Working Group, COM

Miami, USA


20 May - 17 Jul

Training Programme on Ocean Governance: Policy, Law and Management

Nova Scotia, Canada


28-29 May

Final Meeting of E15 Expert Group on Fisheries Oceans and trade System



31 May- 4 June

Field Mission under the SPS Environmental Consultancy



2 June

First CARICOM-Indian Joint Commission

Georgetown, Guyana


8 June

World Oceans Day



3-6 June

CARICOMP-2 Meeting



7-11 June

Field Mission under the SPS Environmental Consultancy



8 - 12 June

Sub-Committee On Ecosystems Intersessional Meeting

Madrid, Spain


9-11 June

ITLOS Case 21 Follow-up Workshop

Dakar, Senegal


8 - 12 June

25th Meeting of States Parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

UN HQ, New York


10 - 13 June

Small Tunas Species Group Intersessional Meeting, SCRS

Madrid, Spain


11-12 June

16th OECS Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Use of Living Marine Resources



11-16 June

Field Mission under the SPS Environmental Consultancy



16-18 June

10th EDF SPS Project - Fourth Meeting of the Technical Advisory & Technical Oversight Committee Meetings



September 2015 – March 2016

UNU-FTP Fisheries Training Programme



22 - 26 June

Dialogue between Scientists and Managers Working Group/WG Fisheries Managers and Scientist in support of the Western Bluefin Stock Assessment



23-25 June

FAD Fisheries Management Write-shop

St. Vincent and the Grenadines


29 June - 3 July

Field Mission under the SPS Environmental Consultancy



June (date TBD)

WECAFC Regional workshop on fisheries data collection, analysis, sharing and reporting –EU supported

Bridgetown, Barbados


2-4 July

36th Regular Meeting of Heads of Government



2 July (8:00-12:00)

Jamaica national Consultation on Fisheries Risk Insurance Initiative



6-9 July

Final Regional Training of Trainers Workshop for Fisherfolk Mentors



9-10 July

Seminar on Laws to Protect Oceans and Seas



6-11 July

2015 UF Ecosim/ Ecopath Lionfish Modelling and Management Training



6 - 24 July

21st Session of the International Seabed Authority

UN HQ, New York


13 - 17 Jul

Bigeye Stock Assessment Meeting

Lisbon, Portugal


20-21 July (Officials) 22-23 July (Ministerial)

4th Meeting of ACP Ministers in Charge of Fisheries and Agriculture



20 Jul - 4 Sept

Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf – 38th session

UN HQ, New York


23-24 July

8th CARICOM-UN Meeting



27 - 31 July

Blue Shark Stock Assessment Meeting

Lisbon, Portugal


24-25 August

Regional Validations Workshop, Fisheries Component of the EU Funded SPS Measures Project



1-3 September

FAO/ WECAFC Expert Meeting to Assess RFMO Arrangements & 1 day Meeting to discuss Fisheries Coordinating Mechanism for CLME Project



 7-8 September

 FAO/ WECAFC/ IDB/ CRFM/ IFREMER Workshop Investing in Ecosystem-based Shrimp and Groundfish Fisheries Management of the Guianas - Brazil Shelf



8 - 11 September

Sixth Meeting - Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for global reporting and assessment of the state of marine environment, including socioeconomic aspects

UN HQ, New York


14-15 September

Meeting of the Secretary General and Heads of Community Institutions, and 2015 Donor Coordinator Meeting

Georgetown, Guyana


14 September

1st Special Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum

Via GoTo Meeting


15-18 September

FAO/ WECAFC/ CRFM Statistics Workshop



16 September

SPS TAC Meeting (Virtual)



21 - 25 September

SCRS Species Groups Meetings (SC Statistics 21 - 22)

Madrid, Spain


24 September

First Meeting of the Consotium on Billfish Management and Conservation (CBMC)

Via Skype


28 Sept - 2 Oct

Meeting of the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics

Madrid, Spain


28 Sept - 2 Oct

First round- Informal consultations on omnibus resolution on oceans and the law of the sea

UN HQ, New York


29 September - 1 October

Common Wealth and UNCTAD Ad Hoc Expert Meeting on Trade in Sustainable Fisheries (AHEM)

Geneva, Switzerland


30 September

Meeting of CCS Agriculture Planners Forum



5-8 October

Third Regional Caribbean Fisherfolk Action Learning Group Workshop

Antigua & Barbuda


6 October

59th Special Meeting of COTED-Agriculture (Officials Meeting)

Georgetown, Guyana


8 October

59th Special Meeting of COTED-Agriculture (Ministerial Meeting)

Georgetown, Guyana


9 October

59th Special Meeting of COTED

Georgetown, Guyana


12 Oct - 27 Nov

Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf – 39th session

UN HQ, New York


14-16 October

SIDs Food Security and Nutrition Conference

Milan, Italy


15-16 October

Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation

Puerto Rico


19-23 October

Visit of Grenada Minister, PS, CFO to Belize re MPA Management and Meeting with the CRFM



19-24 October

CODEX Committee Meeting on Fish and Fish Products

Alesund, Norway


23 October

25th Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum

via GoTo Meeting


Oct (date TBD)

WECAFC/OSPESCA (CRFM?) Working Group on Sharks management and conservation– CITES supported

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago


26-28 October

CLME PEG/ SAP Interim Coordinating Meeting

Miami, USA


Oct/Nov (date TBD)

CFMC/WECAFC/OSPESCA/CRFM Working Group on Spawning Aggregations – CFMC/USA supported.

Miami or Panama City


3-6 November

CTA/ IICA Agri-businees Forum



8 - 9 November

WECAFC 7th session of the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) – FAO supported.

Panama City, Panama


9-11 November

WECAFC/ OSPESCA/ CRFM/ CFMC Working Group on Recreational Fisheries - 2nd Regional Workshop on Billfish Management and Conservation

Panama City, Panama


9 – 13 Nov

68th Annual GCFI Meeting

Panama City, Panama


10 - 17 Nov

24th Regular Meeting of the ICCAT Commission



10 - 17 Nov

Informal consultations on resolution on sustainable fisheries

UN HQ, New York


27-29 Nov

Commonwealth Heads Conference



18 - 24 Nov

Second round- Informal consultations on omnibus resolution on oceans and the law of the sea

UN HQ, New York


23-24 November

ACS/ CSC SYMPOSIUM: Challenges, Dialogue and Cooperation towards the Sustainability of the Caribbean Sea



1-2 December

2nd WECAFC Reorientation and Strategic Planning Workshop - EU supported

Trinidad and Tobago


3 December (tentative)

4th SPS Technical Oversight Committee Meeting




Fisheries & Tourism Work Group to review Study Report




The Workshop which was organised by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Secretariat in collaboration with the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation (CNFO) with support from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), brought together stakeholders from the fisheries sector as well as the media to deepen their understanding of the “blue growth concept” on 20 – 21 November 2014, in St. Georges, Grenada.


Published in CTA Project


The four-wing flyingfish, scientifically known as Hirundichthys affinis, has long been the subject of attention in the region. Growing to just about 25cm in length, living at most just 1.5 years, and being caught in the fishery from as early as 5 to 7 months, this species supports a fishery that is of direct, significant importance for food and nutrition security and employment in at least in two CRFM Member States, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Flyingfish is also becoming more important as a source of bait for the expanding offshore fisheries that target large pelagic species such as dolphinfish, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, and billfishes, which are top predator fishes for which flyingfish is a natural food source. Consequently, flyingfish is a key species in the food web as any drastic declines in the size of the population is likely to affect fisheries for large pelagic species, many of which are high-priced. Considerable research has been conducted on the biology, ecology, genetic stock structure, distribution and migration of the four-wing flyingfish as well as attempts at assessing the health or status of the stock.


Fisheries are an important source of food, income and cultural identity for Caribbean communities. While reef fisheries in the Caribbean are frequently over-exploited, offshore pelagic resources also targeted by the US sport-fishing industry may generate alternative economic benefits and divert pressure from reefs. Key to the efficient harvesting of thinly-distributed pelagic fish is the use of fish aggregation devices (FADs). Traditionally, FADs were deployed by individuals or close-knit groups of fishers. Recently, governments have deployed public FADs accessible to all. There is concern that public FADs are exploited less efficiently and produce conflicts related to crowding and misuse.

In partnership with Counterpart International, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism and the Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Fisheries Divisions, Florida Sea Grant collected information from fishermen on their use of FADs that were deployed privately, by small groups or by the government. This allowed for a determination of governance arrangements that were most profitable and provided input to stakeholder meetings with FAD fishers to identify best practices for sustainably using and co-managing FADs.

The fishing trip analysis shows that catch and profitability are higher when FADs are managed privately or by small groups and access to the aggregated fisheries resources is somewhat restricted. An engagement strategy that introduced an activity planner as a best practice to increase information sharing helped strengthen the rapport between government and fisheries stakeholders. Study results are helping shape regional implementation of policy, which favors FADs co-managed by fishers and government, but can benefit from positive aspects of FADs managed privately or by small groups.

Published in Press release

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