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
Friday, 19 September 2014 16:03

Seabob Fishing Season Closes in Guyana

Fishing season closes for Seabob in Guyana

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries Department, has implemented a closed season for the Guyana`s seabob (shrimp) fishery.

This 2014 closure was ratified by Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy in keeping with protocols previously established between the Seabob Industry and the Ministry. The timeframe approved is September 8th, 2014 to October 26th, 2014 (6 weeks), both dates inclusive.

The closed session is supported by the Guyana Association of Trawler Owners & Seafood Processors (GATOSP).

In this regard, all Seabob fishing vessels were advised to dock from midnight on September 7th and will remain in port until midnight October 26th, 2014. Closed seasons are specified time periods where no fishing is permitted for a particular fishery and has been an ongoing activity for several years in Guyana; its implantation is closely monitored by the Fisheries Department on an annual basis. Such an intervention is not only limited to Guyana but has fast became a global practice aimed at allowing various fisheries to multiply or replenish, thus ensuring growth and sustainability.

The Seabob fishery in Guyana has been well known over the years for generating foreign exchange earnings and revenue through exports regionally and to markets in North America and Europe. The major industrial stakeholders include: Pritipaul Singh Investment, Noble House Seafoods, BEV Processors, Guyana Quality Seafoods and Fisheries Department.

Seabob data submitted by these companies are used to conduct annual stock assessments at the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Annual Scientific Workshop. As much as seventeen member states participates annually at these meetings of which Guyana has been one of the more frequent attendees. It is important to note that attendance at these meeting support frequent stock assessments of an identified fish stock and it is a pivotal prerequisite to the country achieving Marine Steward Counsel Certification (MSC) for a particular fish stock.

Measures are currently being put in place for the seabob fishery to be assessed to achieve this certification shortly. MSC certification basically signifies that harvesting and management of a particular fisheries resource is being done in a sustainable manner which in turn allows for access into global markets for sale of produce.

The seabob stock was last assessed in June, 2013, where it was deemed fully utilised but not over fished. As a result of this, a proposed Harvest Control Rule (HCR) (considered as `best practices` in fisheries management) was drafted following deliberations with the consultant, GATOSP and Fisheries Department. Considerations were given to fisher earnings, political acceptability and the level of precaution required. It was noted that any proposed HCR would undergo further evaluation through future stock assessments, which it was hoped would include improvements on the 2013 assessment. However, it is not anticipated that this would dramatically change any results. An overall days-at-sea limit was proposed; 87 licences each with an allocated 225 days at sea.

The proposed rule was evaluated in June, 2014 by members of the Continental Shelf Fisheries Working Group (CSWG) which comprises representatives from Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The group endorsed the rule on the basis that was considered to be consistent with attaining maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and maintaining the stock above the limit reference point. This limit was acceptable to industry, because it would not limit current fishing activity as long as indicators remained high, and would allow the fishery to take advantage of strong recruitments. The stock is currently in a good condition which was indicated by the attainment of favourable catch rates by fishers. Despite these achievements the current fishing effort employed is lower than the maximum limit stipulated in the HCR which augers well for sustainability.

The Minister has also approved the closed of the prawn fishery for the same period.

Fisheries Department
September 2014


Published in Press release


Belize City, August 27, 2014:  The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will on September 5, 2014 give oral arguments to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany in response to a request for an advisory opinion on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in African waters.

ITLOS, which is made up of 21 Judges, including two from the Caribbean, namely, Judge Dolliver Nelson (Grenada), and Judge Anthony Amos Lucky (Trinidad and Tobago), is hearing oral submissions from States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and International Organisations with an interest in the subject.

Professor Pieter Bekker

Legal Counsel for the CRFM, Professor Pieter Bekker of Dundee University, UK (photo left) will join representatives of nine (9) countries and the SRFC, the European Union (EU), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in presenting oral arguments.

Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM, noted: “The hearing is as important to the Caribbean as it is to the States that have sought advice, as it could set significant precedents for the way illegal fishing is dealt with in the future, particularly regarding the liability of flag States for IUU fishing conducted by their vessels.”

He continued: “IUU fishing is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that inflicts great economic and environmental harm on States that are victims, especially developing countries such as CARICOM countries, with limited capacity for monitoring, control and enforcement of their fisheries laws.”

The SRFC is seeking advice in response to four questions:

1) What are the obligations of the flag State in cases where illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities are conducted within the Exclusive Economic Zone of third party States?

2) To what extent shall the flag State be held liable for IUU fishing activities conducted by vessels sailing under its flag?

3) Where a fishing license is issued to a vessel within the framework of an international agreement with the flag State or with an international agency, shall the State or international agency be held liable for the violation of the fisheries legislation of the coastal State by the vessel in question?

4) What are the rights and obligations of the coastal State in ensuring the sustainable management of shared stocks and stocks of common interest, especially the small pelagic species and tuna?

The Case was initiated on March 28, 2013, when the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) representing seven African States sought the Tribunal’s assistance regarding IUU fishing by vessels registered in foreign States within waters under the national jurisdiction or control of its members and on the High Seas.  The SRFC includes Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and the Gambia.

The arguments in Case 21 can be viewed via live Web stream through the ITLOS Web site (

Published in Press release

ROSEAU, Dominica, April 24 (CRFM) – Developing a better strategy for international relations on fisheries issues - despite scarce finances - was one of the main talking points as the Caribbean fishing community's technical and scientific decision-making body, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, continued meeting here Thursday.

Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Executive Director, Milton Haughton told delegates that limited resources made it challenging for the region to participate in the several rounds of discussions including the UN General Assembly’s Annual Resolution on Sustainable Fisheries, Oceans and Law of the Sea, The Food and Agriculture Organization Committee on Fisheries and the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Fisheries Subsidies negotiations.

“The question is, are there ways that we can utilise the available technology now to overcome, to surmount some of these hurdles that have in the past hindered us from being as effective as we could be in intervening in the discussions to protect our interests?” Haughton queried.

A refined and structured strategy for international fisheries negotiations was important in giving the Caribbean a voice in the global dialogue as it relates to trade and facilitation, he added.

“At this level we are talking about policy development, we’re talking about the development of international instruments and there are significant benefits to be derived because policies are made, priorities are established and then resources flow in support of those objectives and priorities that are established and if we are not part of the discussion priority, if our needs are not part of the priorities then we’re left out in the cold.”

Information technology also allows the delegates to contact directly with stakeholders in the Caribbean fishing industry to give accurate information and perspectives on issues directly affecting them.

“These things end up having real effect on our economies and our people and the prospects for employment, the prospects for trading … so these are important things,” he said.

The CRFM head said his organisation will be reaching out more to our representatives and international bodies in New York, Geneva and Brussels, where information will be shared and form the basis of negotiating briefs.

During day one of deliberations on Wednesday, a new executive committee for the Caribbean Fisheries Forum was elected – Dominica now holds the post of Chairman, Grenada is the Vice Chair while Jamaica, Guyana and Montserrat are executive members.

The annual forum, organised by the Belize-based CRFM, the main coordinator of fisheries management in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), ends Friday.



Based in Belize, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) was established in 2003. It is the core of a complex interactive network of a wide variety of stakeholders in fisheries. Three bodies together make up the Mechanism. These are: a ministerial body, a Fisheries Forum (the main technical and scientific decision-making body) and a Fisheries Technical Unit or Secretariat.

CRFM promotes the sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources in and among Member States, by developing, managing and conserving these resources in collaboration with stakeholders to benefit the people of the Caribbean region.

Its membership includes all CARICOM countries, as full members. Other countries and territories in the Caribbean may join the Mechanism as Associate Members.

Published in Press release


CRFM Secretariat, Belize City, Wed. 25 June 2014—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Secretariat in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, hosted the 10th Annual Scientific Meeting from June 10 to 17, 2014. Thirteen CRFM Member States: Anguilla, Belize, Grenada, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands, participated in this year’s meeting.

photo 2The meeting benefitted from technical support provided by Professor John Hoenig, Consultant, Professor of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science; Nancie Cummings, Fisheries Expert at US National Marine Fisheries Service; Professor Hazel Oxenford from the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies, UWI, Cave Hill campus; and Dr. Paul Medley, International Fisheries Consultant from the UK.

In its efforts to build the Caribbean's capacity for the statistical analysis of fisheries data, so as to improve on the information base available for informed fisheries management decisions, the Secretariat facilitated training for twelve persons under the activities of the CRFM Data, Methods and Training Working Group. This Working Group initiated efforts to identify and agree upon the ten most important commercial fisheries in the region to be analysed or assessed in the future, and for which the management performance will be monitored and evaluated on a regular basis.

The group also committed to updating national fisheries sampling plans to improve the quality of the data available for fisheries analyses and stock assessments in the coming years, and provided recommendations for further training and use of available ICT tools to share information on best practises in the use of statistical software for fisheries analyses.

Under the auspices of the Pelagic Fisheries and Reef and Slope Fisheries Working Groups, data were analysed for the scad fishery in Dominica, the dolphinfish fishery in St Lucia, the large pelagic fishery in Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines, the pelagic fishery in St Kitts and Nevis, the longline fishery in Trinidad and Tobago, the reef fishery in Anguilla, the needlefish fishery in Montserrat, the mutton snapper fishery in Belize, and the Queen Conch fishery in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Reef and Slope Fisheries Working Group also developed specific weight conversion factors for the Queen Conch in Belize and the Bahamas, to fulfil trade requirements under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Working Group intends to conduct further analyses in the inter-sessional period. It also reviewed and endorsed the 2013 assessment of the Pedro Bank (Jamaica) Queen Conch fishery and the respective, estimated total allowable catch, and it provided scientific inputs to a proposed draft regional declaration for the management, conservation and sustainable use of the spiny lobster.

photo 1Fisheries Working Group reviewed and endorsed the rules developed for management of the Guyana seabob fishery. The group considered specific measures to improve data collection and monitoring of the fishery, as well as to address issues of by-catch in trawl gear.

In support of Guyana’s attempts to boost trade through ‘sustainable fishery certification’ by the Marine Stewardship Council, the Continental Shelf 

Data collection, quality control, data preparation for analysis, and analytical methods were the general areas highlighted for attention during the inter-sessional period. Specific priority areas include improving the quality of regional data for the blackfin tuna, in support of the CRFM’s contribution to the 2015 stock assessment to be conducted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas; improving data collection systems to facilitate the implementation of the Sub-regional Fisheries Management Plan for the Eastern Caribbean Flyingfish endorsed by the CRFM Ministerial Council on 23 May 2014; developing a data collection and information system for fisheries which use fish aggregating devices; and collecting and analysing data on the lionfish. Training of data collectors, improvements in national data collection programmes and stakeholder awareness building on the importance of data collection were other critical areas identified for attention.

Regional scientists, following the intensive one-week period, returned to their respective countries with a renewed sense of commitment and dedication to begin work during the inter-sessional period in preparation for next year’s scientific meeting. In keeping with international best practice, the outputs of the meeting will be posted on the CRFM’s website ( and shared nationally and regionally with a range of stakeholders, including decision makers associated with the fishing industry.

photo 4

Published in Press release


Perspectives on resource management and environmental policy from the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), Faculty of Science and Technology, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.

The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) initiated this occasional outreach publication, Policy Perspectives, to share lessons learnt from ongoing research. The interdisciplinary applied research at CERMES emphasizes learning-by-doing through collaboration. The information in Policy Perspectives may be used by policy-makers and advisers to strengthen linkages between interdisciplinary research and integrated policy-making in the Caribbean.



Perspectives on resource management and environmental policy from the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), Faculty of Science and Technology, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.

The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) initiated this occasional outreach publication, Policy Perspectives, to share lessons learnt from ongoing research. The interdisciplinary applied research at CERMES emphasizes learning-by-doing through collaboration. The information in Policy Perspectives may be used by policy-makers and advisers to strengthen linkages between interdisciplinary research and integrated policy-making in the Caribbean.



The 67th Annual meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute will be held in Barbados, during 3–7 November 2014 at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa. The meeting is being hosted by the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.


The theme of the 67th GCFI conference is “Small islands, big issues: applying fisheries and marine science to solve problems and create opportunities.” The United Nations General Assembly has designated 2014 as the "International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS)" or IYOS. The SIDS process started in 1994 with the UN Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS held in Barbados. This resulted in the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS (BPOA) that identifies priorities for addressing the special challenges faced by SIDS. Coastal and marine resources feature prominently in the BPOA and the Caribbean region contains the largest number of SIDS.

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